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My Reading History

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The host of Booking Through Thursday reflects:

Do you keep a list of the books you’ve read? How? In a journal? Through one of the online services? If so, WHY? To keep good records for future reference? To make sure you don’t accidentally reread? If not, why not? Too eager to move on to the next book? Too lazy? Never thought to bother?

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The book reviews on this blog are straight from my reading journals. I have adopted the same format since my first reading journal: the review should be no more than two pages, with at least two quotations/passages, with a brief plot summary and a note on the author’s language, style, and moral theme. I have recently started my fifth Moleskine® notebook on October 25, with my review on The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. The header of each entry will contain the title, the author, the dates read, and page number. Since I started school, reading and journaling had been hand-in-hand. While a reading journal can be helpful for recording observations and questions. I find mine to be more structured than mere “first impressions” or “personal reactions.” The two pages devoted to each book contain my overall impressions of the reading, particular passages or details stand out to me, and personal experiences or background relate to the reading. As you see, reading and reflection are like both sides of a coin. It doesn’t take too much time out of my reading—usually an entry over coffee during breakfast. If reading is the absorbing of author’s words, then reflection is the interaction. The journal is a transcription of my conversation with the book.

3 Responses

  1. I just finished writing in my reading log, actually. I do list everything, too, books read and the TBR. I also have another notebook for writing down passages. But yours is so much more wonderful because you’re able to pause and reflect every so often. Love your idea about reflection being your interaction with the book and your journal a transcription of your conversation with it. Hadn’t thought of it that way before but, yeah, that’s so true.

  2. I tried keeping a reading journal but because I often read books all the way through in one session I would forget to write in it and after a while I gave it up. Then I tried to review every single book I read on my blog, but found I was spending precious reading time blogging, so now I only review the occasional book. Instead I keep a reading log in which I record title, author, genre, page count, publisher and original date of publication, all of which I transfer to an Excel file at the end of each month, along with a grade indicating how I liked each book. In addition, I write down a short synopsis of the book and occasionally I will add a one sentence review in the log.

    I started doing this in order to get an overview of what I was reading and how much, but over the decade I have been doing it it has also provided me with an overview of how my reading fluctuates in terms of number of books and pages and which genres I have focused on at any given time. I wish I had started much earlier.

    I also keep a commonplace book in which I write down, in addition to all the other stuff that goes in such books, passages or sentences I like, new and interesting words and purple passages that make me laugh.

    Lately I have taken to pinning the cover image of each book I read on a Pinterest board and writing mini-reviews about them. It gives me a nice graphic overview of my reading, and I have been considering taking a screenshot and using it as the background for my reading blog.

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