Saturday, June 13, 2015

Discussions Only We Know: Taking Notes

Discussions Only We Know

Taking Notes

Have you ever read a book and then a week later you can’t remember anything about it? This can be a real problem when it comes to reviewing books. If you can’t remember the details of the book when it comes time to write you review, then how do you actually review it? Personally, I try to review each book within 24-48 hours after finishing each one. This helps the details stay fresh in my mind, and it also keeps me from getting backed up on reviews and having to review 10 books in one sitting.

When I read physical books all the time, the idea of highlighting and making notes in the book was enough to make me want to vomit. I’ve never had the nicest handwriting and drawing a straight line is impossible. So underlining, highlighting, and making notes in a physical book is always a big fat no-no for me. In the past, I would often take notes in a notebook, but that can sometimes be laborious and stops the flow of reading. Plus carrying an extra notebook around with me isn’t ideal. However, when ebooks rolled around, I loved the added bonus of being able to highlight passages and make notes without “messing up” the book itself. I’m sure all ereaders have some function that will do this, but I’m only familiar with the way kindle does this.

Now I make notes all the time. And doing so has really helped me in writing my reviews. I no longer go to write my review of a book and think “what was that book even about?” Or at least if I do think something similar, I just refer back to my notes. Well truthfully, I refer to my notes whether I remember the details of the book or not. Sometimes the only “notes” I have are a few highlighted passages. But sometimes I actually do type notes and save them. Highlighting alone allows me to go back to specific parts of the book that I wanted to remember and usually spur my exact thoughts from the original reading without the added need for my thoughts to be written down. But sometimes I want to make a prediction or note something specific that might not be obvious from the text highlighted.

I’d gotten so used to being able to take notes and highlight in my kindle that when I started using the elibrary (Overdrive Media Console/Camilla.Net) I found myself annoyed that I couldn’t do either. Granted this makes a little sense because you’re not saving the books you check out from the elibrary onto your device. Instead you only have those books temporarily. So in order to adapt, I started taking screen shots with my phone of anything I would have highlighted. With my phone, I can make notes on the “back” of each photo, but this isn’t exactly ideal either. Usually, I just take the screen shot and hope that re-reading the passage when it comes time to write my review will be enough to spark my initial thoughts and remind me about what I wanted to say to begin with.

Naturally taking screen shots of books I borrowed from elibrary made me realize that I could utilize this tool for physical books as well. I can’t take a screen shot, but I can take a picture of the page I’m reading for reference later. That helps me in two ways for physical books. Once I finish a physical book, I want it to return to the proper place on my bookshelf immediate (or return it to the owner that I borrowed it from). So on top of keeping track of the pages I want to reference in my reviews, it also prevents me from needing the actual physical book with me when I write my review. I simply refer to the pictures on my phone for my notes.

Using these tools in the ways mentioned above has really covered all of my note-taking needs and helped me remember what I want to say and the things I want to address about each book when writing my review.

What about you guys? Do you take notes for book reviews or do you rely on your memory alone? Are you okay with writing/highlighting/underlining in physical books? Or is that taboo for you? Do you utilize the highlighting and notes function on your ereader? Or not so much? Have you used your phone’s camera or screenshot abilities in the same way? What other techniques do you use for taking notes while reading? I’m really curious if you guys have some better ideas than I’ve been using. What do you think? Let me know!

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