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How to Read and Annotate Books Efficiently For School

How to Read and Annotate Books Efficiently For School

By Lela S.


Cringe Ru annotations

When you read a book for fun, you normally enjoy what you’re reading (I mean, it is for fun after all). I don’t know about you, but I tend to finish books I choose myself rather quickly. However, when you read a book for school, it’s an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT story. You’re given around a month to finish the whole thing, yet you cannot bring yourself to catch up with the deadlines of, say, 75 pages a week. On top of that, you’re given the assignment to annotate the book in a specific way. And these annotations will be evaluated. This article will show you how to read a book for school in the most efficient fashion.


First of all, before I tell you how to annotate, I must tell you how to read. Please do not speed read the necessary pages in each language like I do (currently we’re reading one book in English and one book in French, and it’s about 75 pages per week, which amounts to 150 pages) the night before the due date. Instead, try your best to space out your reading. If the pages are for Monday, November 28, for instance, you should start reading before or on Wednesday, November 23. Reading 15 pages per day starting on that date is a manageable amount. If you start before, that’s even better: you can start the previous Monday, November 20, and finish on Friday with more than enough room. I beg you, if you want to be able to properly read the book and annotate properly, do not follow in my footsteps and read half the book the night before the teacher picks up the book to evaluate your annotations.


Second of all, if the annotation assignment is evaluated, you must write down and pinpoint exactly what you need to annotate. For the book that I’m currently reading for school, Ru by Kim Thuy, I’m supposed to indicate relations between the characters, as well as when and where each “chapter” takes place. Once you know exactly what you’re going to do, make sure you’re going to be consistent with the way you annotate the evaluated items. For example, every time after reading a “chapter”, I go back and ask myself when and where that scene took place, what piece of evidence in the text lead me to assume that, and if any new relations between characters have developed.


Also, this is purely personal, but if I have to annotate and a thought comes to my mind when I read a certain passage, I immediately write it down. Whether it’s relevant, appropriate, or not, I jot it down in the margin. I once wrote “cringe” and “is she mentally okay” in one of the scenes that I found bizarre in the previous book we had to read, Kukum by Michel Jean. Turns out, the annotations were graded by us handing over our book to the teacher and the teacher reading through what we wrote. Some notes I wrote in the margin were as questionable, if not more questionable, than the scene I had commented on, and I ended up with 100 percent in the annotations. Therefore, please don’t be afraid to write down anything you consider fitting (after annotating the stuff that’s actually graded, of course).


Thank you so much for reading this article!

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