Book Review: Annotation | @mcleod

I finally had a chance to read Annotation by Remi Kalir and Antero Garcia. Although I’ve never met Antero, Remi is my faculty colleague here at the University of Colorado Denver. Remi tells fascinating stories about annotation (no, really!), so I was excited to read his thoughts in print.

The book highlights five key functions of annotation: providing information, sharing commentary, sparking conversation, expressing power, and aiding learning. Chapter 5 on expressing power probably was my favorite, particularly the sections on the #MeToo poetry of Isobel O’Hare and Alexandra Bell’s use of posters to challenge racial stereotypes in The New York Times. The book has numerous interesting examples of annotation in action (hint: it’s not just people writing notes in the margins of printed books) and is at its best when it is discussing these real world exemplars.

Although I am an active reader, I’m not much of an annotator other than highlighting passages or quotes for later. Until I met Remi, I hadn’t really given much thought to the practice of annotation. The book gave me some new lenses through which to think about this practice.

Whether you’re a reading geek or not, Annotation is a quick read that should spark your thinking in some new directions. If you want to get a taste beforehand, here are a couple of podcasts with Remi to get you started:

Be sure to also check out the #SharpieActivism hashtag for another fascinating story of annotation. And, as always, I hope that you’re reading something fun and interesting too!

Image credit: Annotation, Remi Kalir