Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Salon: Goodbye Journal #2

For those who have been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember that I keep two reading journals. There is the official reading journal which is simply a Word document where I keep my reviews and other tidbits that I might find interesting, including the basic statistics of each book. Each year, I open a new Word document and start fresh with a new reading journal. I began that reading journal the latter part of 2003.

I have always loved blank journals and have a little collection thanks to the kindness of others who have thought to give them to me as gifts. I have a nice stack and often wondered what I would do with them, not wanting to give them away because I liked them so much, but I also realized that they were just taking up space. And then I had an idea.

Three and a half years ago, I started keeping a second kind of journal, although I wasn't quite as faithful about writing in it until about two years ago when I began my blog; this one is a running journal of my thoughts as I read a particular book. This proved to be quite helpful when it came to recall, but it also gave me a chance to jot down questions, favorite passages, and my impressions as I went along, things that sometimes got lost by the time I finished a book and was caught up in the euphoria of a good ending or struggling through a bad one. Those blank journals are coming in quite handy now.

Last night I put to rest my second journal, a little notebook that easily fit into my purse alongside my books and has kept me company for just over a year. I began reading April Witch on April 7, 2007, the first book to make an appearance in my handwritten journal. Some of my notes on books are very brief while others go on for pages and pages. I jokingly told my husband about a week and a half ago that I would soon need a rubber band to hold the journal together, the pages beginning to come loose. I wasn't wrong. Jonathan Santlofer's The Murder Notebook has earned the last spot in my journal, a book I finished on April 11, 2008. There's still one more empty page I could probably fill, but the book I am reading now looked like it would inspire me to write even more than the one page would allow, and I was not wrong. I did not want to stop mid-sentence to start a new journal. So, this means goodnight to journal #2.

Now I have to adjust to a new journal. This one with homemade and line free pages. It's about the same size, only fatter, probably because of the thickness of the pages. The cloth cover is quite fetching on the new one, a sort of floral design, but not at all bright. More earthy in tones with its muted green, shades of brown, orange and gold. There are sequins and beads on the front cover that add personality to it. It's even got a little bookmark string attached to help me keep my place.

It makes my battered and rather plain striped notebook with neatly lined paper and its cardboard cover look sad in comparison. My old journal and I shared many adventures over the course of a year. It is battered only from constant use, laid flat so I could write in it, and a pencil too often used as place holder (so I'd always have a utensil with which to write). It traveled with me just about everywhere I went, both literally and figuratively speaking. Shortly, I will be tucking it away in a box with journal #1, another book which is full of the thoughts and memories of my reading experiences.

I settled in with Tara Yellen's After Hours at the Almost Home last night and was immediately transported to The Almost Home, a bar and grill in Denver, Colorado. It is one of those novels that would have kept me up late into the night had sleep not overwhelmed me. The book was not far from my mind even in sleep as my dreams often took me back there throughout the night. I will be returning there later this morning for another visit.

Recent Book Acquisitions:
Jackfish, The Vanishing Village by Sarah Felix Burns
No One Heard Her Scream by Jordan Dane
The Island of Eternal Love by Daina Chaviano
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim (a prize I won in Jaimie's BAFAB contest--thank you, Jaimie!)
Sobibor by Michael Lev (a gift from Megan--thank you, Megan!)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (a trade from my friend Nicole from The Reader's Nook online book group.)

Happy Reading!


  1. I really admire how much you journal. I've given many attempts to such a project and in the end, I am just lucky to post a blog entry.

    I wish I could be more like you and less like me. :)

  2. I like the idea of a little journal that you keep with you. I often wish I took notes on the books I read, thinking it would be helpful when I write my review. Sometimes, I create sentences for my review in my head that I can never remember when it comes to write the darned thing. =)

    I hope you have a great reading week!


  3. I am good at starting journals but not sticking with them. It is a discipline I would like to have because looking back on what is read a year or so ago can really be helpful. Thoughts and circumstances change so to look through both eyes would really enhance the reading experience. You always inspire me!

  4. Tara Yellen's books sounds like it must be good. Looking forward to your review when you are finished! :)

  5. I absolutely love this idea, and I think I'll try it. . . now just to get a journal to write in. . .

  6. What a great idea! I like my blog to write my reviews and Sunday Salon updates - but have thought recently that having a note pad of sorts handy while reading would help me capture my thoughts on the book much better. The last book was the first to be graced with sticky tabs to highlight passages I enjoyed and wanted to share - maybe soon I'll try out your journal method and see how I go. As much as I love my blog for reminding me of what I've read nothing can beat good old pen and paper for revisiting memories :)

  7. I used to keep a journal to jot down notes. Then Maya was born, and I found it hard to juggle a book, notebook, pen, and nursing baby! :)

    Happy Sunday!

  8. I wouldn't know what to do without a journal. I simply love notebooks and anyone who knows me well knows that they can always buy me one as a present that will be received with the greatest possible pleasure. But, the issue is finding one's that hang together and can be fitted into a bag. If I'm buying for myself I always go for Moleskin. They seem to stand up to pretty much any treatment and (most important) they stay open when you put them down!

  9. I LOVE journaling, too. But I'm a fickle lover, I'll write faithfully for a time and then go through a dry spell. Maybe I can try your methods to be a little better.

  10. J. Kaye - It's about the only form of journaling I've ever been faithful too. I think it's become so much a part of my reading process that it's second nature to me.

    Jill - I think keeping a journal like that does help when it comes to review writing. At least for me.

    Having the perfect sentence come to mind for a review and having no where to put it has happened to me too. :-S

    I hope you have a good week too.

    Jaimie - You do keep a blog, which could be seen as a form of journaling. :-) I know what you mean though. Any other type of journaling I try and start, I end up forgetting about later.

    Samantha - It is good! I am really enjoying it so far.

    Andi - Finding the journal is one of my favorite parts!

    Mrs. S. - I find the sticky posts helpful too. For awhile there, I used that method regularly and then eventually graduated into keeping a journal on the side.

    Alisia - That would be difficult, juggling a baby plus a book and journal. LOL I only have to worry about the cat deciding to lay down on my journal if I've got it out beside me.

    Ann - Thank you for the tip on Moleskin. Something sturdy would definitely be nice--and one that stays open on its own.

    Nikki - For me, a lot depends in the book I'm reading. Some books inspire me to write more than others.

  11. I love what you have done with your blank journals. I often struggle to remember things from books when it comes time to review them. This just could be the answer for me. I've tried just marking passages or using sticky notes, but it hasn't worked out that great. Thanks for the idea. By the way, I have moved my blog (formerly PfeifferBooknotes) to Booknotes by Lisa at if you want to update your blogroll. I just got everything changed over and have been painting all week, so there aren't any new posts as of yet. But, I start on my new job tomorrow, and I'll get back into a routine soon.

  12. That's such a neat idea. I haven't written in "traditional" journals in a couple of years..these days I write everything on the computer. And I have so many pretty unused've inspired me to pick one up!

  13. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on Jodi Picoult. I just started my reading blog a couple weeks ago so it's nice getting to know new people.

    You are so smart to keep a reading journal. I'm mad at myself for not starting one years ago. But, better late than never, I guess.

  14. It's really sad and yet satisfying coming to the end of a reading journal, or any kind of journal for that matter. I love to have a handwritten copy of my thoughts on books and other matters, it always seems so much more personal than using a computer somehow. It's so much fun choosing the right kind of journal for whatever your project is and I hope you and your new book journal have many exciting adventures together.

  15. I'm always attracted to those beautiful journal covers; some of them are so pretty to look at. But I don't have the habit of journaling, and I always write my thoughts on the computer (that's where the blog comes in, hehe!). However, I think it'd be fun to try it one day shall the mood strikes. ;)

  16. I get many journals as gifts and also bought a few too. I do start about books and those never get finished! I am not disciplined, I supppose. However, my poetry journals are always on the go! One can never know when the muse strikes!

    PS: I have not bought any books lately, what with my move and all. And also did not win in any giveaway!


  17. Lisa - It is so good to see you again! Thank you for the link to your new blog. I'll go ahead and update my sidebar. Good luck on your first day tomorrow!

    I tried sticky notes and the like too, but it seems to work better with the journal. I still do use the sticky notes to mark pages occasionally though as it helps me find the pages quickly. I also copy the page number in my book just in case.

    Nymeth - I was so glad to find a use for them. I tend to write better when I am behind a computer, but that's not always an option, especially when I'm reading. The journal is just for jotting down ideas--it wouldn't make very interesting reading if someone picked it up on a whim. LOL

    Linda - Welcome to the blogging community and thank you for stopping by. :-)

    I wish I had started journaling earlier. It's interesting too how much my reading has changed since I started journaling. I get so much more out of my reading now. I like to think anyway. And you are right, it's never too late to start.

    Rhinoa - Yes, that's it exactly. There is a definite sadness to it and yet also a feeling of satisfaction. I'm still getting used to my new journal, and I think my cat is too. He's going to have fun with the little beads and sequins on the cover I think. :-)

    Melody - It took me awhile to get into the habit. It felt awkward at first and I felt like my reading was always being interrupted as I paused to capture my thoughts. It's so much easier now and comes so naturally.

    I tend not to read in places where I have access to my computer and so having a reading journal is a bit of a necessity for me.

    Journaling like I do isn't for everyone, that's for sure, but if it works, it can really be a benefit.:-)

    Gautami - I have a few half started journals that I started for other reasons besides reading. Reading journals are about the only kind of journal I'm faithful too. I'm not sure why that is though.

    I was lucky this week and didn't have to pay for any of the books I acquired. I'm being spoiled right now, I think!

    Moving is such a pain. I hope it is all going well for you.

  18. I like keeping a journal and haven't in a while...I am going to keep one again, it is easier to recall thoughts while reading, rather than searching my mind for them days later :)and nevermind, half the time I will forget...

    I need a book that draws me in, I like THE TATTOOED GIRL by J.C.O. but it does not draw me in, neither do I wish understand if you read the book.

    Again have a nice week-end, left you a messg on my blog

  19. Sylvie - I find it easier to recall my initial thoughts by journaling--this old mind isn't what it used to be! LOL

    I definitely want to read The Tattooed Girl. It sounds like something I would really like reading.

    Have a great week!

  20. OH, journals! I love them too...I was much better about keeping up when I was younger and kidless. I should really get back on that, especially with the funny things the boys are saying and doing right now.

    I got the book, The Island of Eternal Love too!! I am excited to read it!

  21. Bethany - Thank you for stopping by! I imagine having kids does make a lot of things a little more difficult--at least until they're older. Just imagine the blackmail material you would have if you started writing down the things they say and do. ;-)

    I look forward to reading your thoughts on The Island of Eternal Love. It sure sounds like a good one!

  22. I have a Word document like you do as a reading journal but I love how you use an actual journal to keep track of your thoughts as you read. I love journals themselves but never seem to use them, or stick to them when I've tried to use them. I've never actually tried to use one for reading though, might be worth a try. At the moment I just use little sticky notes if anything strikes me.

  23. This is probably going to sound funny--but I admire your patience to keep a handwritten journal. I kept one for a while--but really only gave each book a page. But, in grad school it was too difficult to keep up with everything so I let it go. Then, I discovered blogging and since haven't written a darn thing down. :) I wish I had the patience (or would it be drive?) to keep such a journal--so, ladida.

  24. Tanabata - For awhile there I had so many pretty journals that people had given me and I hated that I had no use for them. I ended up giving most away before I finally figured out how I wanted to use them. I'm not sure why I'm so disciplined when it comes to the reading journal. Maybe because of my review commitments. I think a person has to use whatever method (if any at all) that works best for her or him in the end.

    Trish - Thank you! I avoided all pleasure reading during the school year when I was in college/grad school. I found it too distracting to my studies. So, the fact that you were able to read for fun during grad school--my hat is off to you!

  25. Well...since my major was literature, it was both pleasure and pain. :) During the school year I wasn't able to get a whole lot of "me" reading in, but most of the time I was reading stuff I enjoyed. I was able to keep up with my journaling for a while, but when I was reading sometimes 3 books a week plus secondary articles, writing in a journal became the last thing on my mind.

  26. I love starting a new journal! I have tons and can't go anywhere without one - even if it's a little one - because as much as I save stuff on the computer, nothing beats writing stuff down. I love to re-visit with my old journals too :)

  27. Trish - That does make a difference, doesn't it? You have to prioritize or go crazy.

    Iliana - Isn't it a great feeling? I wish I had started journaling earlier because I love re-visiting my old journals and it would be so interesting to be able to compare and look back on where I was in my life years and years ago. I'm not sure I would have been so faithful to even my book journal back then though.


Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating all comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.