As a book reviewer, there are a few tools I tend to keep in my arsenal that have proved invaluable to me since beginning my book-blogging career. One of those is my Kindle Fire of course, but one I’ve never really talked about (and perhaps should) is the Kindle Notes feature.
For those of you who aren’t aware, or who don’t read with an e-reader such as a Kindle or a Nook, the Kindle has a feature that allows you to make notes and comments as well as highlight text (in different colors even!) as you read through your book.
This seems like a rather innocuous feature. I’ll admit, when I first got my Kindle Fire, I had no idea why anyone would even bother taking notes on a book they were reading. I’d heard several people mention that they occasionally made highlights or notes… but I really had no idea what that meant. ‘Do these notes get shared on the internet with other readers?’ I wondered… and yes, it turns out, you can share them on some books—but it only occurred to me later as I was doing book reviews how valuable the Notes feature really was.
A few weeks ago (okay, maybe we’re talking months at this point) I sat down one weekend and read through five books in a series (The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare!) I was engrossed, and before I knew it, I’d polished off the complete series. Unfortunately, at the time I was also rather busy with being sick and dealing with the Christmas holiday season… so like the lazy person I sometimes am, I made myself a sticky-note at my desk to remember and write some reviews about the books at a later date. I’d still remember the books in a few days. Right?
I was so very wrong. The holidays, and my illness dragged on for ages, and by the time I finally got around to writing those reviews (I’m still in the middle of them) I could no longer remember the books. It wasn’t that I couldn’t remember if the books were good. I know they were. I even remember that the last two are my favorite. The problem lies in distinguishing what happened in the books as individual events. I remember who died and what events took place…but not what book they took place in. As some of you can probably imagine, it’s very difficult to write a book review if you can’t remember what happened in the book.
As a book reviewer, I sometimes read through an egregious amount of books in a very short time period. (I’ve read 8 in the past three days) This has lead to the very useful, but sometimes unfortunate side effect that my brain tends to wipe it’s memory clean of a story after 24 hours.
So, to remedy this problem, I’ve spent the last few days skimming back over the pages of each of the five books page-by-page in an effort to separate the events in my mind and remind myself what I liked, and didn’t like, about each book. Here’s where the Notes come in:
If you’re a book reviewer, take notes. Highlight grammatical errors, funny dialogue, or brilliant scenes. Make comments as ideas and events strike you. There is nothing more valuable to someone who needs to write a 2k word article on a book than to be able to look back at your notes and skim for topics, names, and events to talk about. Sometimes your love or hate of the book can change from chapter to chapter, and it’s great to be able to look back and figure out where things started to change.
I’ve begun to make it a habit now to always write notes and highlight as I read through stories – and sometimes my comments are snarky, sarcastic, and hilarious shouts of fan-girl glee—but they’re always something tangible I can go back to in order to remind myself of some of my favorite, and least favorite, parts of each book.
I’m curious to know from other reviewers out there how, why, and if they use the highlight and notes features of their e-reader… and if you don’t, (or if you read hardcopies), I’d love to know if you’ve ever considered making notes, or if you have some other trick to reminding yourself. For me, it’s definitely a huge time-saver (and memory-saver!), and I know I’ll be making more of an effort in the future to continue to use this feature—if only to save myself the hours of skimming needed to replace those notes when I inevitably put off a review for another several weeks. I’m lazy. I can admit it.