Growing up, you could always find me with my nose in a book. Yet, it never occurred to me to write in those books; I never had a reason to use the margins to annotate and analyze anything I was reading, and quite frankly I didn’t want to. As someone who constantly overanalyzes everything, I enjoyed the fact that books were the one thing I didn’t feel I had to analyze. This began to change in middle school, when analyzing books so unfortunately became part of my grade.
From middle school onward, most of my English classes seemed to revolve around annotating different works of literature, whether it be a poem, a piece of fiction, a nonfiction article, or in one somewhat odd case, a nutrition facts label. When my teacher taught my class about annotating, we learned the GRAM method. With the GRAM method, I also learned a strong dislike for marginalia. For each new page of writing, I was taught to “Give a statement,” “Restate an idea,” “Ask a question,” and “Make a connection.” All this mundane annotating took place on photocopied pieces of each work, in pencil, and was always turned in for a grade.
Now that I am no longer “forced” to annotate what I read, I realize that all that practice writing marginalia was not for nothing. While I do not annotate works of fiction any longer, I do dog ear pages throughout the books I read that contain information I may want to refer to later in the book. In regard to readings for class, I do my fair share of marking up the text. I’ll print myself a copy of the text and proceed to highlight key themes, draw arrows connecting ideas to supporting evidence, and ironically, I still use the GRAM method in the margins, although they now go much more in depth than the superficial GRAMS I use to do for a grade. These annotations I keep solely for myself, mainly to keep up the façade that I still strongly dislike annotating (not really). In reality, I think everyone should have their own annotations because each work can be interpreted differently by different people.