October 10, 2013 • Cee • Discussion

three c's

Note-taking is really important and convenient, especially when you read books and want to recall your thoughts or scenes that occurred. I wholeheartedly support note-taking. I’m a fairly good note-taker when I’m in class because I don’t want to miss anything the professor says (it may be important, which is always the case).

However, if you came in here under the impression I’ll teach you a thing or two about being a good note-taker when reading books —

You are sadly mistaken.

Didn’t you see the description for this seminar?

Bad Note-taking 101

An introduction to the history of Cee’s note-taking abilities (or lack of) for books. This course examines the benefits of note-taking with a journal or on a laptop, and the reasons why Cee note-takes and why she gets distracted a few sentences in. Particular focus will be given to the factors that prevent her from making proper notes like specific distractions as well as to how those distractions prolong her lack of productivity. This course will, hopefully, dissuade you from unhealthy note-taking habits. Students are required to take this course and are expected to engage in this discussion. (Note: This course is in no way trying to teach you how to be a good note-taker, per say.)

However, if you just do the opposite of the things I do (which is to avoid distractions), you should be fine. Maybe.


Importance of Note-Taking for Books

Main point: To not forget important things you want to talk about! (It may be scenes that had you – on the edge of your seat in excitement or anxiousness, rolling on the floor from laugher, angry beyond belief, screaming like a fucking banshee, bored to tears, pondering about the themes and the symbolism.)


Hand vs. Fingers
(or properly known as – Journals vs. TextEdit: Which Do I Prefer When Note-Taking?)

Hands (Journals)

PROS: Handwriting!, DOODLES, it’s extremely personalized, easy to take with you

CONS: Hand will cramp up after awhile (because I don’t write by hand as much anymore + I don’t hold my pen the proper way), having too many journals = clutter, can’t erase/delete whatever I wrote because I don’t like how it’s phrased (I’m a perfectionist!)

Fingers (Laptop/TextEdit)

PROS: Fast typing, “delete” is my best friend (it’s easier to erase sentences I don’t like so I can rewrite it), my hand never tires, I can sort of multi-task, less clutter in real life (since I don’t have to store the notes on my desk or bookshelf)

CONS: Bright screen + Internet = super distracting

So, have you figured out which I prefer?


My Process

  1. I have a book that I have to read – for school, for my blog, for whatever. It’s necessary that I finish the book (or attempt to) because if I don’t, I will eventually get behind schedule (ie. be screwed).
  2. I grab my notebook or my laptop to take notes on whatever I’m reading. (I am extremely forgetful. I can’t recall shit even if my life depended on it. Hence, the usefulness of taking notes.)
  3. I jot down a couple of notes about what I find interesting, what I think is important, or what I think the characters/images/themes symbolizes. (Bullet points are my friend.)
    1. These notes tend to be proper sentences and the length of paragraphs, which actually distracts me from the text I’m reading. I like making my thoughts articulate. Also, if I take notes about my thoughts for a book review, I usually like to type out sentences I’ll use for that review. It kind of defeats the purpose of note-taking for later use. Whoops?
    2. Sometimes, when I look back at the notes that aren’t full sentences, I get confused because I don’t understand what I wrote down. It’s like I wrote in a foreign language. And I’m extremely unorganized when it comes to note-taking.
    3. It may be easier to highlight or underline things or write things in the margins of the book, but I don’t like desecrating the pages. It’s too precious to me (even if doing those things “adds character” to the book).
    4. I’m a thorough person (when I try to note-take); I don’t want to miss anything, so I want to make sure I get everything down, which takes foooorrrreeevverrrr and then I give up.
  4. I get distracted. Surprise, surprise. (Sarcasm, ya’ll.) I will only have a few sentences on the page. I feel like my mind does things the way a hummingbird moves (or jerks around), moving from one thing to another quickly even without finishing whatever I was doing before.
  5. I stop note-taking and start doing something entirely different because my brain demands it.
  6. Lack of productivity. Procrastination. FAILING.
  7. The end results: Coming to class unprepared (’cause I can’t remember what happened in the book even though I read it the other night); having to reread the book again as I try to type up a review (this happens frequently, ie. The Beginning of Everything); having lots of text documents or notebooks that are left in a pile in the corner of my room, unfilled (which I really hate. Who wants a free composition books with two pages (or less) of notes written in it?). It’s not good.


What Distracts Me (or What Goes Wrong)

  • My thoughts
  • The Internet – Twitter, Tumblr, blogs
  • Hunger/Food
  • People
  • Emails (I’m always checking it every 15 minutes.)
  • A need for my writing to be perfect
  • Bright screen
  • My sitting position
    • I have a bad habit of reading in bed, so when I take notes, I am essentially juggling a book and a notebook (usually a laptop) on my lap. However, if I’m not reading on my bed, I sit down at the table, but the chair/seat is usually uncomfortable because I have no leg room to cross my legs or move them around. (Leg room is absolutely necessary when I work on a table.)
  • Books staring at me (they mock me!)
  • Knocked doors (I’m expecting books from the mailman.)
  • Text messages
  • Basically, if you snapped your fingers, I will begin to do something that sends me on a cycle of “doing things I shouldn’t be doing.”


But seriously, note-keeping tips?

You’re asking the wrong person for advice.

I can only say: “note-taking is cool.” You can quote me.


Do you take notes when you read? Or do you majorly fail at it like I do? (High fives for us, right? ;D) What does everyone do? How do you note-take? What’s your process like?

(I feel like this post somehow became about my distractions instead of note-taking. I did talk about note-taking, right? I would apologize, but I’m too tired to be sorry. )

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9 Responses to “THE THREE C’S: CANDID CONVERSATIONS WITH CEE | Bad Note-Taking 101”

  1. LOL This was so funny! I’m awful at taking notes IN class (because I’m reading my own books while the teachers talk) and while I’m reading, because I just have a hard time stopping to take down notes. It’s tedious. However, I do take notes as soon as I’m done with the book. I write down a list of what I liked and what I didn’t like and I find that it helps me write my reviews later on. That way I don’t have to write my reviews immediately after finishing, I can hold off on doing that for a bit if I took down some notes. :)

  2. Amy M. says:

    I’m terrible at taking notes as well! I really wish I was better at it. If I write any notes, it’s typically hand written. Mainly because I don’t read near a computer all the time. I do try to make sure to at least always write some notes once I finish a book. So I at least have my final thoughts of the overall book on paper. It also helps for me to write character names down. Sometimes I get mixed up between the book I’m writing a review for and the book I’m actually reading.

  3. Sam says:

    Lol! I do take notes. I use an app on my phone called Google Keep (I have an Android). It’s super handy! I don’t even know how I took book notes before getting this phone/app! I can colour-code my notes so that if I’m reading more than one book, it’s easy to keep them separate. Plus, the app is linked up with my computer in some cloud or something. So, I take my notes on my phone and then when I’m ready to write up my review, I just pull up the Google Keep website and all my notes are right there! I absolutely love it. It makes writing reviews so much easier and, like you, I have a bad memory when it comes to remembering important things about books. So, This makes my reviews fuller and more interesting (I hope).

  4. We must be sisters, you and I. Separated at birth because someone knew that if we were to be together, we would destroy the world… with books! But seriously. I’m exactly like you in this department. I’ll take notes in school (hell, I even make visual boards to stick up in my room so I remember important details for tests), but when it comes to books and note-taking — nope! And ha, if you know distractions, then you’ll know that they’re extremely hard to overlook. Like, impossible. That’s why they’re called distractions. ;)

    But that’s not exactly true. I take notes when I want to, like when I find something that’s just so ridiculously silly to ignore, and I really don’t want to forget about it, then I’ll type out something on my phone and leave it for later. Or if I want to take note of some quotes that I can’t highlight — I won’t highlight in my books, haha — then I’ll leave a note as well. AND YES. I know what you mean about your “points” becoming more like essays! If I just read an especially bad book, I tend to have a lot to say. Most of the time, though, I just prefer to enjoy the book without any note-taking distractions.

    No, wait. I’m just too lazy. C’mon, cut me some slack. I already do enough note-taking in school, and now you want me to do more for my leisure reading?!

    My number one distraction is definitely the internet. And Twitter. But the internet more. *sigh* Us procrastinators. :D

  5. Charlotte says:

    Hahaha. I guess we’re twins when it comes to bad note taking. In fact, I consider myself very inconsistent when it comes to note taking because there are a lot of times that I don’t take note at all. I just rely on my memory to write my reviews so sometimes I do forget things.

    But when I do take notes, it’s also a mess. I write on my notepad, I take notes via goodreads reading status update, I sometimes take notes using text messaging, I also use the highlighting and commenting system in ADE, Kindle, and PDF, and/or take notes using microsoft word. So you can imagine how many hours it will take me to write a damn review if I am facing a lot of disorganized notes. Nyahahaha.

    As for school, I also employ the same techniques. It’s very rare that I get organized when it comes to note taking. If I can remember it well, I only did the organized note taking when I attended Statistics, Chemistry, Calc and Social Studies 101. They’re my fav subjects so I think they deserve the best. As for the rest, even toilet paper will do.

    Thank you for this post. It surely encouraged me to be more disorganized in note taking. Bwahahaha.

  6. I’m bad at taking notes too. Sometimes I don’t take any. Sometimes I highlight passages or take notes on my Kindle. Sometimes I start my review and take some notes in the draft there.

  7. Samantha says:

    Note taking IS cool, I just haven’t quite got that hang of it yet. I rcently finished a book and thought back about that AMAZING quote that I just LOVED and realised that I hadn’t made a note of the page, let alone the quote! Happily, Google is my best friend and found the quote for me. Point number one for note taking.

  8. I totally agree with you, note taking is cool. :)

    I try to be good about taking notes but sometimes I get so into the book that I totally forget to write anything down and also like you, I get distracted really easily and I have horrible memory. Ask me about a book I read only two weeks ago and I can probably only tell you a couple of things about it, if that. It’s safe to say that I try to take good notes but I don’t always succeed. I use post it notes and keep them posted on the cover of my book. My notes are usually just short little sentences or page numbers. Gosh I guess I really do need to take better notes because my reviews would probably be way better.

    Great post!

  9. This had me cracking up man! I think note taking is good but I refuse to do it for books I read for fun? Why? Because then reading feels like school and I get enough of that. If I can’t remember something from the book when I go to review it, well, then it wasn’t very memorable was it?

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