Annotating a Novel


  1. There are many places to read novels online. (For online libraries to search click here.) Sometimes, I will find the novel for you, and other times you will want to find it yourself and annotate as you read.
    • You can do this in Microsoft Word using the "add a comment" feature.
      • To add a comment, go to the insert menu and click "comment" (this will often cause a comment toolbar to appear on screen and stay
    • You can also annotate in your wikispace by adding links, pictures etc.
  2. The first part of your assignment will be to research author:
    • Who is the author?
    • When was he or she born? When did he or she die?
    • Insert a picture of the author.
    • What nationality, or country is the author from?
    • Summarize his or her childhood.
    • Summarize his or her writing career.
    • Add links to the sites where you got this information.
  3. For the second part of this assignment, you will be doing some biographical research about the novel itself.
    • What genre would this novel fit into? (not just fiction or nonfiction, but is it science fiction, fantasy, historical, romance, etc.)
    • When was the novel written?
    • Why did the author write it?
    • What is it about? (Summary found online.)
    • Add links to the sites where you got this information. If you are copy and pasting quotations, you need to proper site the source and create a link to that site.
    • Is there any controversy that surrounds this novel?
    • What movies, television adaptations, satirical things have been written, spoken about, or filmed that refer to this book?
  4. For the third part of this assignment, what is the political and historical climate surrounding the time period the author was writing? What might have influenced their writing?
  5. "The voice you hear when you read silently is not silent; it is a speaking-out-loud voice in your head: it is spoken, a voice is saying it as you read. It's the writer's words, of course, in a literary sense his or her "voice" but the sound of that voice is the sound of your voice. No the sound your friends know or the sound of a tape played back, but your voice caught in the dark cathedral of your skull, your voice voice heard by an internal ear informaed by internal abstracts and what you know by feeling, having felt. It is your voice saying, for example, the word "barn" that the writer wrote but he "barn" you say is the barn you know or knew... The voice in your head, speaking as you read, never says anything neutrally - some people hated the barn they knew, some people love the barn they know so you hear the word loaded and a sensory constellation is lit: horse-gnawed stalls, hayloft, black heat tape wrapping a water pipe, a slippery spilled chirrr of oats from a split sack, the bony, filthy haunches of cows... And "barn" is only a noun - no verb or subject has entered into the sentence yet! The voice you hear when you read to yourself is the clearest voice: you speak it speaking to you." Thomas Lux
    • What went on in your head while you were reading? What were you visualizing, discovering, didn't recognize as words, undestand, mean, etc.? This is what you will annotate.
    • Listen to your inner voice as you read. This is what you include as you annotate.
  6. For this assignment, you will be reading a novel and adding your own annotations. You can add:
    • pictures (of actual people, or what you think they look like in your own mind; places; events)
    • video clips
    • links to web sites about different parts of the book
    • definitions (you can use the dictionary in your widgets - if you have an internet connection; use an online dictionary; use the dictionary software in your applications folder; etc.) Keep this dictionary open as a separate window as you are reading to save time.
    • comments (might be something that confuses you, or something you would whisper to someone else that is reading the same book, a funny spot in the book that made you laugh, etc.0
    • questions that come up as you read
    • when a sentence or statement reminds you of something from your own life
    • historical references to people, places or events
    • reference to pop culture
  7. Create a title page and chapter titles that include a picture and make the sections stand out as you read.