Thursday, February 22, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Writing in Books

It is that time again: Booking Through Thursday. I almost decided to skip this one but decided to go ahead and take a stab at it.

A couple weeks ago, we asked about how you take care of your books, with one of the questions asking whether you write in your books. Well, what about books that are meant to be written in? Like, say, a journal or diary? Do you keep one? Obviously, if you're answering this, you have a blog--do you just let your blog be your journal? Or do you also keep one for private stuff also?

First let me say that I love journals. There are quite a variety out there, many of them that catch my eye and make me wish I could take them home with me. Alas, I am not a very faithful journaler, and I prefer to type my thoughts rather than hand write them if truth be told. That makes those pretty little journals not so useful to me, I'm afraid.

When I was a child, I kept a diary which I would begin faithfully, hoping to write in it every day. As time would go on, I would write in it less and less frequently. I always liked the idea of keeping a journal or diary, but never got into a regular habit of doing so. A few years ago, my mother discovered one of my childhood diaries in a box and returned it to me. It was fun to read through it, returning to the thoughts of the 12 year old girl that I once was. A common theme I discovered was how often my parents got upset with me "for no reason." Of course, I was always the most perfect child who could do no wrong. Weren't we all? At least we thought so anyway.

Early on I discovered a love for writing. And in my middle school days, I entered the world of pen palling. Oh, how I loved to write letters! I had pen pals from all over the world and when I realized that I could have pen pals from all over my own country, I suddenly had many of those kind too. I still enjoy writing letters, although I am not as prolific as I once was. In some respects I suppose my letter writing was my way of journaling, making a record of my life and my thoughts, whether it be something going on in my life or that of my pen friend. I did not hold onto those letters, mailing them out to my friends across the country or seas, but the act of putting my thoughts into words has often proven to help me through some of the rough spots in life and to celebrate the joys in life.

As for actual journals, I do keep a travel journal, which only gets used when Anjin and I travel or have some sort of big event (like our wedding). It comes in handy for remembering all the little details so I can return to the memories again later in life. As soon as I get home from the trip, my notes go into the computer in a more organized fashion.

I do keep an annual journal file on my computer where I record events in my life (sometimes small and sometimes big), memories I want to hold onto, sometimes thoughts I want to put down, but it's nothing formal and I often neglect it.

There is also my reading journal. I started it a few years ago as a way record my thoughts about the various books I read. My reading journal is simply a Word document in my computer. I do have an actual reading journal in book format, which I use to jot down notes as I read a book. It comes in especially handy for books I am reading to review formally or discuss with a reading group.

My blog is an extension of my reading journal in most respects. I am a rather private person, and so the amount of personal information I share is limited. Although, I imagine you could figure out a lot about me by reading my thoughts on the books I read or even by my reading choices.

What about you? Do you keep a journal?


  1. I keep a prayer journal. I find that when I'm trying to pray many times my mind wanders to the laundry or work or what book I'm currently reading. This helps me keep my thoughts on track. Also if for some reason I'm interrupted I can pick right up where I left off rather than just not returning to prayer at all. I also keep this journal at work so I look a lot less crazy writing in a book than talking to myself (as it would look) while people walk by.

  2. That's a very nice idea, Aka-Nik. I especially like that you keep it at work so that you can pray there without too much curiosity. I admit that my mind tends to wander when I pray sometimes too. Or I'll fall asleep. :-S

  3. Very interesting! I'm the same way. I always liked the IDEA of writing in a journal every day more so than the actual practice. I got a journal as a Christmas present a few years ago, and I wrote pretty regularly for a while -- but now, not so much.

    I've noticed a pattern, though. When I'm writing more often on my blog, my personal journal-writing suffers. When I wasn't writing very often on my blog, I was getting more of my feelings out on paper. I think I prefer the feeling of community. :)

  4. It is funny to read letters and diaries you kept as a child isn't it? Makes you wonder how we ever grew up to be normal functioning adults (or DID we??)

    I keep a spiral notebook with everything I've read since 1995 listed. And my 'personal' journal is actually a book called 'List Youself' where each page asks you a question about yourself, like 'List your favorite qualities about your father' or 'List your favorite movie characters'. It's not very deep, but it is fun.

  5. I kept a daily journal for four years and then just stopped. I think my life may be too boring. I started my reading blog this year. Books give me a way to focus my writing. I also write fiction and poetry, so I guess I'm getting words on the page, just not in a journal anymore--but I too like how many of them look and almost buy them just in case I might start again--so far I have resisted.

  6. Just like you, I love to write too. I tried my hand on writing stories but of all the 3 scripts that I wrote, I didn't think it any good. So I kept the stories to my self for my pleasure.

    I kept all of my diary and journals that I have written in the past many years in my red chest that hold all of my past. I haven't yet re-read them. But eventually someday I will.

    But my main focus is to keep writing a journal on my niece :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog...please have a nice day :)

  7. Sometimes, it's easier to type than write longhand because the brain has the tendency to be a thousand times faster than the hand. So I'm thinking of what would happen a chapter ahead, and my hand is still writing the fisrt sentence of the story.

    But it doesn't matter so long as we get to write, right?

  8. I agree it is easier to type than hand brain always goes faster than I can write :)

    By the way, Wendy...we have started a group blog for all those people participating in the NYT Most Notable Fiction challenge if you are interested in joining us...should be's the link:

    Hope to see you there!

  9. Zandria - I like the sense of community that blogging offers too. :-)

    Kookiejar - It is funny to read old diaries and letters. I have quite a collection of old letters various pen pals wrote to me. I tend to be less likely to hold onto them now though, for better or worse.

    "List Yourself" sounds right up my alley! I enjoy keeping journals like that, even if I tend to fall out of interest for awhile--but then I can come back to it. I may have to look for that one. :-)

    A little off the subject - My parents recently forwarded me a letter sent to their address under my maiden name. It was from the daughter of a former pen pal of mine. The daughter says she was named after me and having read several of my letters her father kept around, she decided to write and see what I was up to. It's been over 10 years since I was in contact with that particular pen pal.

    Lisa Jean - LOL I think my life is pretty dull too most of the time. And you are writing poetry and fiction, which, I think, is terrific. Depending on what you write, that can be just as cathartic.

    I have resisted too, surprisingly enough considering how poor I am at resisting buying books to add to my TBR collection. Most of the blank journals I have lying around are gifts that I've received over the years. I sometimes will buy a journal I really like and give it away as a gift to someone I know who will use it.

    Julia - I sometimes write stories or scenarios too, and like you, they are more for my own pleasure and not something I share with others. I'm not looking to publish or put my writing out there. It's just something I enjoy doing. :-)

    Den - Yes, that is it exactly! I tumble over the words when I hand write and have often lost thoughts because my brain is thinking faster than I can get it down on paper. And as you said, we are writing, which is all that matters.

    Wendy - Oooo! It's very tempting . . .

  10. I loved reading your post. In high school I went on to keep penpals both abroad and a t home. I never thought of it as a continuation of journal keeping. Like you I loved writing those letters and put a lot of effort into them.

  11. Kitty, that is awesome about your old penpal's daughter. Very cool. I've had lots of penpals over the years, but I'm terrible about keeping up with them, so I've lost them all. >:( Guess somethings are just not meant to be.

  12. I suppose I consider my blogs my journals. I've always wanted to be that person that writes daily and faithfully in a beautiful, leather-bound book but somehow I can quite live the dream!

  13. Karen - Thank you! It's probably a stretch to think of it as a form of journal writing, but I imagine had I not been such a prolific letter writer, I might have had more time and motivation to journal. :-)

    Kookiejar - Isn't it though? I used to be such a faithful letter writer . . . Not so much anymore. :-(

    Heather - Me too, but it was never meant to be. Ho hum.

  14. Hi, thanks for dropping by my blog! ;) Looking forward to reading our next responses of BTT this week...Happy Monday!


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