My Sticky Flag Love Affair

Sticky Tabs in Books

Yeah, It’s Pretty Bad.

I don’t know how or when I started but I know I can’t stop. I’m obsessed with sticky flags and use them for every tidbit I find useful or interesting as I’m reading a book. The sad thing is that I actually do reference these flags later on, otherwise I’d probably just get rid of them after I finished reading the book (or at least that’s what I like to tell myself). There are too many little morsels of knowhow for me to write down and still salvage some of my sanity, so I keep the sticky flags in place.

There isn’t a color system for them, though the particularly helpful chapters or larger sections of text are marked by a sticky flag coming from the top of the book as opposed to the side, which is reserved for smaller pieces of information.

A sentence here, a paragraph there; on and on I go, sticking my sticky flags to and fro.

I often get asked the question “How do you find what you’re looking for when you go back to a book with that many flags?” and the answer is this: I flip. I flip through the book with a rough idea of what I’m looking for. Then I flip until I find a heading that has a similar notion of what I’m looking for and I look at the flags in that section. It doesn’t take as long as you might think, I swear! There’s always the Table of Contents to guide me when I’m truly lost in flag-land.

I love acquiring knowledge and it makes me nervous to read something useful and not be able to find it again. I also have an issue with putting empathy into inanimate objects — how would that book feel if it had so much knowledge to share with the world and yet it was never picked back up again? These two traits really drive my sticky flag habit.

I don’t believe in highlighting or writing inside books unless they’re workbooks designed for that kind of thing. I oftentimes flip through a book to skim it over after reading it the first time, and my sticky flags make it easier to skim over the important and relevant (to me) parts.

Maybe this isn’t the most effective method and yes, I could get a Kindle version of all of these books and digitally highlight, add bookmarks, and type up notes that I can review without going back into the content of the book at all, but there’s something about holding a book in my hand and being able to physically flip through the pages and not wait for it to load that resonates with me. I mostly do this with non-fiction, fiction that I’m not going to refer back to gets the Kindle treatment.

What’s your method for when you find something useful in a book?

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