Annotated Classics

Annotated versions of books are classics with notes in the margins that provide historical context, vocabulary definitions, explanations of something that’s happening in the text, and more. I have an annotated version of Pride and Prejudice, and I love it! A lot about Jane Austen’s time period was so different from ours, and reading the annotations illuminates a lot of societal norms and conventions that help the reader more fully understand why certain things are happening. When you read the annotations you just gain a different insight and a deeper understanding of what’s happening in the story. It’s sort of like reading with an English teacher or historical expert next to you, giving you little bits of information that make you go “Ohhhh, so that’s why!”  My annotated Pride and Prejudice also contains biographical details about Jane Austen that help the reader to see how things from her life played into her writing.

Here are a few others I’m looking forward to checking out:



I think it’s nice to read a book un-annotated once, so you can just enjoy the story, then go back and page through the annotated version to add an extra layer of understanding to it. This way the annotations don’t feel like interruptions, because you’re already familiar with the story. And yes, I am aware of how big a nerd that just made me sound. 


  1. Rebecca says: January 24, 2012

    I don't think I've ever read an annotated book before. It sounds fascinating! I adore Jane Austen especially and I'm sure I'd get a lot out of it.

  2. Holly says: January 24, 2012

    I LOVE annotated books (English lit major & master's, lol) I have a great version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, annotated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. These editions all look beautiful!

  3. Dorothy says: January 24, 2012

    So glad you posted this, I had never even heard a an annotated book! I once listened to a Shakespeare play on audio that had someone coming on and explaining things occasionally and it was very helpful and not intrusive. I think it was some kind of school edition.
    Must look into these books, thanks!!!

  4. Dancing Branflake says: January 24, 2012

    No way! I'd totally love this for books like Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair. I love diving into time period books but then I think, "I know I'm missing out on something here."

  5. sampenner says: January 24, 2012

    Agreed- I like the annotated versions of
    Books that leave me wondering what certain things meant. Glad you shared this!



  6. ashley nicole catherine says: January 24, 2012

    i haven't picked up an annotated version in years, but this is a great idea! thanks for the reminder 🙂

  7. Lisa Marie says: January 24, 2012

    I love reading Alice in Wonderland. I am going to have to pick up the annotated Alice to get a different perspective on this story. So cool!!

    Lisa Marie

  8. Erika [small shop] says: January 25, 2012

    What a great idea. Much more lowbrow but I did buy a version of Angels and Demons for my grandfather that talked about the art and architecture in the story, always thought it was so much more interesting!

  9. Carolyn says: January 25, 2012

    As an English major, I couldn't agree more. And coincidentally, I literally JUST started reading Dorian Gray about 25 minutes ago…now I wish I had an annotated version!

  10. Lisa @ Elembee, Etc says: January 25, 2012

    Definitely adding the annotated Pride & Prejudice to my to-read list. And the covers for Alice and Brothers Grimm are gorgeous!

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