You tell us: do you highlight your fiction books?


A few months ago, I came across an article that mentioned this Amazon site, where you can see the most highlighted passages, or books, of all time in the Kindle store. I was reluctantly fascinated by this, because I’m not generally a reader who highlights, especially in fiction. I’m much more likely to do it in non-fiction, so I remember key takeaways. I also turn off the feature that shows you what people have highlighted in the book you’re reading, when you read on a Kindle or Kindle app. Seeing the random underlines has always driven me a bit batty and interrupted the reading experience. Still, I know a lot of readers do highlight, and not just in their digital books, but in print copies as well. I can honestly say the only print books I’ve ever highlighted, or wrote in, were school textbooks. Even nonfiction books I read for pleasure, I didn’t highlight in print copies, but would instead take notes in a journal for later reference.

The whole notion of highlighting in fiction books makes me curious, why do people do it? I know some readers highlight passages they want to mention in the book review. Or maybe a line is one they think is particularly worth sharing? But there must be other reasons for highlighting fiction, and I’m curious to hear them.

You tell us: do you highlight your fiction books? Why (or why not?)

(as an aside, in addition to seeing popular highlights, you can also search for specific books and see what’s being highlighted in them, at the Amazon site.)


15 thoughts on “You tell us: do you highlight your fiction books?”

  1. Petula Winmill says:

    I’m like you I can’t see
    The point . I have turned
    Off the highlights on my kindle
    It annoys me to see them.

  2. HostyPenn says:

    When I was a tween and teen and over-emotional (I so do NOT miss those days), I’d underline what I thought were profound ideas in fiction books. Haven’t done that in forever. I make notes in cookbooks now, but pretty much don’t mark books up anymore at all.


  3. No highlighting, thank you. I just want to read and savor the thing – though I do try to review good books. So maybe highlighting would be a help…. nah. I only rarely quote what an author has written.

    Part of it, for me, is my Kindle is older (all buttons)and it’s a lot of WORK to highlight passages. Maybe if I had a touch model.

  4. I highlight for review purposes and I also highlight if I’m planning to interview the author. Say, there’s a passage that gives me a good question to ask (I don’t do questionnaires. I tailor each interview to the author/book.)

  5. Thorny says:

    I turned off seeing other people’s highlights because it’s annoying, but I do sometimes highlight for myself. I’m a writer, so I might see a few sentences that are just so good and “I wanna be like that when I grow up” so I highlight them.

  6. Kari Young says:

    I highlighted last night a passage from Mary Balogh’s The Proposal. If I find something interesting I highlight it. I don’t know why I do it because I rarely go back to my highlights.

    I also like seeing what other people highlight, then scratch my head and wonder why anybody would highlight that.

  7. Mary DeSive says:

    I highlight like crazy in both fiction and non-fiction, especially now that I have a Kindle (although it was always just light underlining in pencil in paper books, never highlighting). I love that the notes and highlights I make in my Kindle books end up on a webpage where I can refer to them later without having to scroll through the book. In non-fiction it’s usually a point I want to remember, while in fiction it’s often simply a turn of phrase I liked.

    1. Subbu says:

      At last, I found someone who does what I do!

  8. Katie says:

    I agree with HostyPenn–not only do I not miss those days, but (other than as a lit major at uni) I don’t really highlight in any books anymore. In fact, the last thing I think I highlighted at all was Hesse’s Siddhartha (a bit pompous, I admit). If I’m researching something, I copy it myself, usually onto paper because I’m old school, and make sure I have all the relevant attributes if I need to go back to it.

    It took my husband and I about a week to find the instructions to turn off seeing others highlights on the Kindle because it was so frustrating to have all that stuff cluttering up the text. Perhaps we should have read–and highlighted–the instructions!

  9. Hannah says:

    some people highlighted because they agreed to what the texts are saying, it’s like another way of sharing your thoughts… it helps a lot for people that can’t express themselves freely

  10. Rhianna says:

    I underline with a pencil because if there is a particular quote i like in the book i will underline. With a pencil because then i can erase if i need to. Also 6 yrs later u might read the book again and reread ur notes and have a different thought from 6 yrs ago.

  11. KaitheReader says:

    I never mark my books. The last time I did was when I was a kid and boy, did I get an earful. I appreciate a good unmarked book. I don’t really get the highlights. The text in a book carries me to the author’s world and for as long as I’m reading, I want to stay there uninterrupted – not get constantly drawn back by a few squiggly lines telling me this bit has been highlighted so many times. This means I have to read the sentence again, wonder why on earth that particular bit was highlighted, then shrug and try to delve back in… not worth it in my opinion.

  12. Millie says:

    I highlight my books because its such a profound and intricate way of knowing me…idk..i just imagine someone would care enough to grace my bookshelf and when they read it they will find the passages i loved, that way i will live forever through my books and through the people who read them. Maybe they will like the same passages as me and it could lead to some bigger enormity.

  13. Vandita says:

    I highlight and write in the margins of physical books because it’s like a conversation I’m having and it feels good to “write” back. Possibly making the copy unusable for anyone else, I agree, so it’s not too kind. But still fun. I too see other’s highlights in Kindle and wonder why they liked that sentence.

  14. Subbu says:

    I’m a passionate highlighter on Devices and a crazy underliner on Paperbacks.

    While reading on devices, I use all the 4 colours:

    1 – Characters’ names, their behaviour, their thoughts
    2 – Philosophical points I agree or disagree
    3 – Important events & transitions in the story
    4 – Doubts, and those that I feel requires researching

    While reading on paperbacks, I initially preferred pens for underlining. However, to avoid impressions on the consecutive pages, I started using pencils.

    I would love to hear from people who would like to help me with highlighting tips, so that I become a better highlighter. Even teeny-tiny tips are welcome :)

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