How Do You Take Notes Whilst Reading? – A Discussion

NOTEIn this post I am talking about how I take notes along with some examples. This post may contain minor spoilers.

I have a terrible memory. There are times when five minutes after finishing a novel I can’t even remember the main characters’ names. After deciding that I wanted to have my own book review blog I realized that if I wanted to write about the books I’ve been reading – I was going to have to start taking notes. Especially when there are times when I’m lucky enough to get copies for review before the books is released and it may be months from when I read the book to when I post my review.

As a curious person, I’d love to know how others take notes whilst reading. Do you take notes? 

I thought I’d share some of the different methods I’ve tried of making notes whilst reading novels. 

With all books I read I have a post it just inside the front cover with the names of the main characters on it with a very small amount of info about them. Sometimes I do diagrams just to explain to myself how everyone is related.

Examples of my note taking: I had to draw a family tree of sorts to keep track of how everyone knew everyone else in Nymph by Tonya Alexandra

Methods I’ve Tried

Notes in a notebook:
I’ve tried using a notebook. I write all sorts of things that come to mind whilst reading in this book…. but I think I might get carried away at times because sometimes my notes – even for a novella – end up being over 7 pages long…

Examples of my note taking: Here is just a fraction of the notes I took when I read Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.

Graphical Representation:
Then I tried out using a mind map of sorts. But to be honest it didn’t work for me. possibly because I had no idea where the story was going and my drawing skills were lacking. I think maybe I should try again with this method and see if it starts to stick with me.

Examples of my note taking: My attempt at mind mapping Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Post its and sticky flags:
I love using post its in novels. Can quickly write down small notes and stick them on relevant pages. I also am a fan of using sticky flags because it’s the easiest way to mark quotes that I want to remember for whatever reason.

Examples of my note taking: Many quotes I wanted to flag whilst reading Season to Taste by Natalie Young

For those times when I’m reading and don’t have access to pens or paper – I love the Evernote app on my phone. Easy to write down everything and have it in one place. I’ve used it on both an Apple phone as well as an Android – and the best thing? It’s free!

Examples of my note taking: My evernote notes for Banish by Nicola Marsh

Underlining and Comments in the Margin:
Okay…. so I’m not a fan of writing directly in a book but there are times when I’ve done it. I was reading Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan and ended up underlining nearly every word… with many notes in the margins. I just… wanted to mark and remember the whole book.

Examples of my note taking: Underlining galore when I read Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan


So here are the methods I’ve tried. Maybe you’ve tried some too. Did they work for you? Any methods you have tried that you think might work for me? Let me know what you thought. 🙂



  1. I actually wrote a post similar to this a while back on why I don’t take notes – mostly because reading is purely enjoyment for me and I didn’t want to turn it into a chore. But hey, if you like doing it, that’s a bonus! I’ve underlined a bunch of stuff in one of my TFIOS copies, because the quotes are so beautiful. If I want to remember a quote for a review, I just keep in mind the page number the quote was on. For some reason that works. You have lovely writing, by the way 🙂

    • Thanks 🙂 I can get why others don’t like taking notes. It does take you out of the story for a moment every time I stop to jot something down but it really helps me or I’d not remember
      Your TFIOS copy sounds special 🙂

  2. Oh gosh, you are amazingly dedicated. I NEVER take notes. Frankly I’m too lazy. I usually read a book in one or two days, though, so I can mostly retain it enough to write a semi-coherent review. Although, if I want to remember a quote, I take a quick pic of the page number on my iPod and hope to goodness I remember what exactly I wanted on the page. 😉

    • Never? Oh my! I can’t remember what happens in a book from getting off the train and onto a bus. I read most books in 1-2 days too but unless I’m reading it straight though I need helpful reminders.
      I take pictures of quotes and page numbers on my phone too! It’s super helpful.

  3. Omg you’re so thorough! I feel like the laziest reviewer compared to you now…I don’t tend to take notes at all, unless there’s something I really want to include in my review. This usually tends to be negative points, and quotes that make me dislike a character. I like to have them handy to justify my thoughts. I tend to remember the positives though, so I rarely have to keep tabs on them.

    Thanks for sharing your method, it’s so awesome to see the way other bloggers read and review. 😀

  4. I’ve tried taking notes before, but I always end up getting sucked into the book and forgetting to take notes! So now I just rely on Goodreads to remind me of the pertinent details, and if I really need to I’ll open the book again and get the character name that I forgot 🙂

    But yeah, I should take notes. I’m horrid at remembering anything! That’s why I reread series every time a new book comes out xD

    • You reread? Go you! I rarely re-read. Mostly because there are so many new books I want to read. Goodreads is great for things like that – I use it mostly when I can’t remember a certain charact4er’s name and had forgotten to write it down!

  5. Well I a going to be no help to you because I don’t write notes when I read! My memory is excellent when it comes to remembering recent reads, and I always try to write reviews either immediately after I finish reading the book or one book later (this is actually working better for me because it means that I am giving the book time to settle in my brain, haha).
    So … yeah. Sorry I couldn’t be more help! 😀

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