Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Salon: Saying Goodbye to Journal #3

The attached ribbon bookmark is frayed at the end, the result of overuse and too many cat attacks. The spine is broken from lying flat on my desk so I could jot down notes as I was reading; and the pages are filled with my scribblings. There are eraser smudges here and there. If you flip through the pages, you may notice some are written on upside down--my way of keeping notes of two books I had been reading at the same time.

Although I keep a reading journal on the computer, complete with my reviews, my reading journal/notebook is the one that travels with me everywhere. It is the place I write down random thoughts as I read or jot down details and names I think might be important to remember for later. It is a record of my reading at its most primal level, before I organize my thoughts and polish them into what you read here on my blog.

It was just over a year ago that I put to rest my second reading journal. Now it is time to say goodbye to the 3rd. As much as I liked this journal, it was often too big to fit inside my purse alongside my book. If it was a paperback, it wasn't a big problem, but trying to cram a hardback and my journal in was a bit of a challenge. I resorted to writing on loose paper on occasion which is now tucked inside the journal for safe keeping.

The first book to find its way into my 3rd reading journal was After Hours at the Almost Home by Tara Yellen. I began with a brief summary of the opening chapters and moved on to character descriptions. I rambled on about the book for three and a half pages. My final comment was simply, "First impressions are deceiving." I would go on to record the thoughts of many more books within the pages, traveling to distant lands and stepping into the shoes of many people from varying cultures and lifestyles along the way. I shared thoughts about books I loved as well as those I did not care for.

My last entry was about The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. My thoughts were actually left incomplete, my notes only covering a page and a half. Not because I ran out of things to say, but because I forgot to take notes the more I read. Sometimes that happens.

I find there is a certain sense of sadness each time I reach the end of a reading journal. The book has been with me through many ups and downs. It has served me well. Even so, there is an unavoidable excitement at starting fresh with a new journal. Those clean pages just waiting for my pencil to fill them with all of my bookish thoughts.

I have already begun taking notes in journal 4. It is the perfect size. It fits easily into my purse and is designed for laying flat without any problem. There are fewer pages than my old journal, and so I imagine I will fill its pages quickly. The journal is handmade by fellow book blogger Iliana from Bookgirl's Nightstand. I won it in a giveaway last year and have held off using it until now, knowing it would make the perfect reading journal. And so it has.

Do you keep a reading journal?

I am just finishing up a terrific book called No One You Know by Michelle Richmond. I feel as if I have been on a roll with all of the great books I have read recently. I hope this lucky streak lasts for a long while yet. What are you reading these days?

Week in Review:
Monday at the Movies: Angels and Demons & Those Darn Tear Jerkers
Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (There is still time to enter the giveaway for a brand new copy--you didn't think I'd give away my own copy, did you?)
Review: The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris (& words from the author: Fact vs. Fiction)


  1. I do have a journal where I keep notes, but I am inconsistent about using it. I'll get three fourths through a book and realize I haven't written anything, then am kicking myself when I come up empty when I go to write the review.

  2. I never used a journal but I always have index cards or lined sticky notes inside the book while I'm reading. For me, it makes reviewing easier.

  3. I usually jot down the title and author with date iof reading. Nothing else but I do have a poetry journal where I jot down my random poetic thoughts.

    Here is my TSS post

  4. I don't have a reading journal beyond my book review blog, but what a great idea! Like one commenter, I rely on index cards or whatever scrap of paper is nearby to jot a few notes. Or, horribly, I sometimes fold down a corner of a book and underline a passage for later reference!

  5. No reading journal but I do keep a journal/sketchbook/scrapbook. I think I'm on the fifth one since I started. They are a good way to remember lots of things I'd otherwise forget entirely.

  6. I can definitely relate to the whole sadness/excitement feeling when you finish another journal. I don't have a reading-only journal, but my regular old journal is full of jottings about the books I've read. I often use it as a means of figuring out how I felt about a book before I sit down and write my actual review.

    I also have a notebook set aside for my reading list, but it's just a list of numbered titles with authors, page numbers, completion dates and what I plan to do with the book now that I've finished it. No detailed notes.

  7. I don't keep a reading journal, either, except for my blog, but I do keep a visual journal of my life that often includes comments on the books I'm reading.

    I really love journals of any kind and yours sounds like something I should have started 50 years ago when I was a kid!

  8. I keep a reading journal, but never seem to have it when I need it. Lately I've been putting post-it notes in the book, but I like your idea of a smaller notebook that goes everywhere with me.

  9. I have been giving a LOT of thought to this idea lately. About a month ago I posted an entry asking how bloggers keep notes to use in their reviews. I received some great suggestions and am now trying to develop my own method (currently an index card as a bookmark is working fairly well). I would love to start keeping a journal, however: one place where all notes are kept and I can review in the future.

    Have you tried Moleskin? They look like they might lie flat enough to carry at all times, lightweight, and now they come in fun colors :)

  10. I don't keep a reading journal but feel like I should after reading your post.

  11. I don't consistently keep a reading journal, I've tried, but tend to lose momentum and abandon them.

  12. I've never kept a reading journal, and I've always thought I should. But now that I'm on Facebook, I put the books I read into my virtual bookshelf so I'm finally keeping track.

    I just finished Gillian Flynn's new DARK PLACES, which was even better than her haunting SHARP OBJECTS. And now I'm reading Michael Koryta's ENVY THE NIGHT, which won the LA Book Prize. It's quite good, a quiet thriller, if that's such a thing.

  13. I keep a journal that lists what books I've read, author and a personal rating so I can remember if I liked the book or not, but I don't write any notes or anything like that. Since I don't put any notes in it, I've had the same journal for years.

  14. I keep a journal so to speak. I use One Note on my computer to jot down quotes from books that really speak to me - I can paste pictures in it and use fancy fonts. It is sort of like scrapbooking but with words - LOL.

  15. I have never kept a reading journal, but I used to keep a personal journal. I remember how it was sad but also a little exciting when I finished with the old, familiar, comforting journal and moved on to a new notebook which I'd always purchased particularly for that purpose. I think having a reading journal might be a great idea.

  16. I adored No One You Know. And this is a great tribute to your reading journals. I kept one before the blog, but I haven't kept up with it since.

  17. Iliana is so talented! I just love her journals.

    Like Lenore, I lost the habit of keeping a physical journal since I started blogging. But I'd like to return to it...I've been meaning to start a quotes journal for a while now.

  18. I should really get a reading journal too. I have these big sticky note thingies and I stick them in the back of the book and make my notes there.

  19. I don't keep a reading journal per se, but I have been copying passages I especially like into a Word doc from books I particularly like. I figure that absorbing good reading will do nothing but enrich my life.

  20. I love the idea of a reading journal - there's just something about having something tangible to write in and hold in your hands in these days of electronics.

    That being said, however, I'm very excited about a recent birthday present - a friend gave me a handheld digital recorder!

    As for what I'm reading now, I just started "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein, and two chapters in, I'm already in love with it.

  21. I do keep a journal, what I'm reading, what the weather's like, to-do-lists, quotes, all kinds of things. It is full to look back and see how things change, or stay the same:)

  22. I keep a reading journal. I am more diligent at times than at others. It's really easy for me to read before bed and not take the time to record all my though. I find that it is wonderful to "read" audiobooks. It's so easy to make real time notes and capture moment by moment thoughts when your hands are free.

  23. Hi Wendy...Good to say hi.
    Thanks for your message.
    As for a journal...I keep a writing journal that is similar, but the focus is on my writing work.
    I like the idea of maintaining a reading journal and now I know what to do with the beautiful journal I purchased from Bookgirls Nightstand.

  24. Sandy - There comes a point when I am reading sometimes that I have to stop myself from taking notes and give myself permission to just enjoy the rest of the book or else I can go note crazy (nonfiction in particular). Other times I do forget to take notes. It's funny how it works out that way sometimes. :-)

    Diane - Index cards are a great idea. That definitely is a handy method! But then I think of all my lovely bookmarks that would go unused. LOL

    Gautami - A journal is the perfect place to jot down poetry and random thoughts!

    Sarah - I've resorted to making a small notation in the book itself when I don't have anything else handy too, I admit.

    C.B. - I agree! I have such a bad memory these days.

    Memory - For some reason, I've never been good at keeping a journal for anything other than my reading. I'm not sure why. I sometimes keep a travel journal when I travel, but even that I wasn't so good about this last trip hubby and I took.

    Linda - I wish I had started keeping a reading journal when I was a child. Imagine the memories those would bring up!

    JoAnn - I've used post-its at times too. It does help to have a smaller notebook, I've found. It's so much easier to carry around. Since I take my book with me everywhere anyway, it's not hard to keep the journal with it.

  25. Molly - I remember your post! A lot of good ideas came from that. Having a little journal works well for me, and so I've stuck with it.

    I have a moleskin journal somewhere, but it's too big to keep as my reading journal unless I want to give up taking it with me everywhere. I use it more as a travel journal. My problem is I love a pretty cover too much. :-)

    Kathy - I find it to be useful, especially since I started reviewing books on my blog

    Suzi - That's what happens to me with just about every other type of journaling. I don't really know why I stick with the reading journal so faithfully.

    Karen - I keep an excel document with a list of all the books I read along with stats I find interesting. Being able to have it in one place is so convenient.

    I am so glad to hear you enjoyed DARK PLACES. I'd heard mixed reviews about it in comparison to SHARP OBJECTS.

    Yvonne - I keep an online journal with the details you describe, but I've found that having a notebook to jot down thoughts as I go has been a life saver when it comes to review writing.

    Kara - If I did all of my reading around the computer, I could see myself doing something similar to what you do. I imagine your journal would be fun to look at!

    Meghan - Yes, that's exactly it! You wouldn't think you'd grow so attached to a little book you carry around, but I do. :-)

  26. Lenore - I am glad you liked Michelle's book too. It's so good!

    It's funny that you gave up keeping a reading journal when you started blogging because that's when I began keeping one! It helps me keep track of my thoughts so I can write a decent review for my blog.

    Nymeth - Yes, Iliana is very talented. I don't have a photo of my current journal, otherwise I would post one. The next one I use will be another one of hers and I do have a photo of that. :-)

    Dar - I think whatever method works best for you is perfect. :-) I sometimes use sticky notes too, at least to mark places I might want to come back to.

    Kim - That's a good idea. Unfortunately, I tend to forget where those passages are unless I have some other sort of method to keep track of them. I don't read next to my computer very often and so keeping track there as I read isn't very practical for me.

    Ingrid - Exactly! It may seem a bit old school to keep a journal with hand written notes in it, but it has its own charm.

    I do love my computer though--and have a file that serves as my "official reading journal" where my finished reviews are kept. And I do love a good excel spreadsheet for tracking things!

    I am glad to hear you are enjoying THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN. I've heard such great things about that book.

    Gavin - Your journal is an all purpose journal. :-) Maybe I should keep track of the weather in mine too--it would make it more interesting. :-)

    Nicole - Me too. Sometimes I am more faithful about keeping up than other times. Sometimes it depends on the book too.

    I can see why journaling audio books would be a good idea. I'd probably have to do that if I listened to them.

    Wisteria - It's good to see you, Donna! We both seem to have been a bit absent lately, haven't we? I am glad to hear you are feeling a little better.

    Iliana's journals are perfect for journaling the books we read--it's small and beautiful. :-)

  27. I just purchased a reporter's notebook that is bound at the top. I'm a lefty so writing in a traditionally bound notebook of any kind is always a pain for me.

    I don't journal in it really as it's too small for that but it's good for one or two lines to jog my memory later.

  28. I'm about to come to the end of my current journal which I began in January of 1999. My previous journal was 1993-1998. Before that, I kept a yearly journal in 1984 and 1989 or 90, but wrote those in the backs of books which I promptly forgot.
    I've already picked out my new journal. It's cool...a black rubbery cover (smells like rubber anyway) with something written in hieroglyphics etched into the cover. I'll be sad to leave my lovely old journal, but am excited to make that first entry in the new one. I'll pay homage to the older journals in a blog at the end of the year...thanks for the idea, Lit Kitty!

  29. I don't have a reading journal, but I do keep a spiral notebook handy in case I see something I want to quote in a review, or have a thought that I need to write down so that I don't forget it (again usually pertaining to a review that I am going to write).

  30. Ti - I tend to avoid using ringed notebooks for that very reason--unless they're bound at the top. :-)

    Bybee - You really put your journals to good use! Mine are too small to last years like yours do.

    Your new journal sounds very nice!

    Alyce - That's a good idea. I am so bad at pulling out quotes even with a journal handy, I admit.

  31. I've never kept a journal the way you do. I used to note down the book and author name, but thats about it.

    I agree it's an excellent idea but for me it would just mean one more thing in my to-do list. I am content with noting my thoughts on my blog :)

  32. Violet - My memory isn't what it once was and so I need to take notes sometimes as I read or else I couldn't write a decent review for my blog. I can see how it might seem like one more thing to do if you aren't in the habit of doing it already. I remember when I first began taking notes like I do though, it felt like too much of a break from my reading process. I was surprised at how quickly I fell into the habit. It's a natural part of my reading process now.

  33. I like the idea of writing regularly in a journal but never seem to get around to it, or keep it up if I do start one. I do have a small notebook that goes with me everywhere for notes on just about anything and sometimes I do jot down things in it about the book I'm reading.

    I hope your good reading roll lasts too. Have a great week!

  34. I have a journal, but it's become too big for me to comfortably write in. I'm looking for a new journal now.Happy reading.

  35. I just loved reading this post. I used to keep a reading journal before I started blogging and now I just keep post it notes (the bigger ones) inside the books' front cover so I can take notes. But, once I'm done I throw out the notes. I really think I need to go back to a journal because it is so much fun to look back especially as I don't necessarily review every book I read. However, regular journals, oh my, I have so many ongoing - just daily stuff, quotes, random bits, etc. And even though I can make them I still buy tons - haha...

  36. Nat - Having something handy to jot things down on is so helpful, isn't it? I can't tell you the number of times I've heard something I want to remember or come across a title of a book I want to research further. I have a separate little notepad for that sort of thing, but it sure comes in handy!

    Vasilly - Good luck finding a journal that works best for you. Fortunately there are plenty of different types to choose from--it's just a matter of settling on one (which isn't always easy to do, I know!).

    Iliana - I sometimes will use post-its to mark a page with a quote I like in it. I often forget to remove them later though. I like using a journal though because it's nice to have everything in one place.

  37. I don't keep a journal (although I wanted to but I guess I'm too lazy, hehe), thus this is where my blog comes in! :P However, I'll buy a journal if the cover is pretty!

  38. Reading through this makes me want to start a reading journal, but I don't think I'd ever be able to keep up with it. I used to take a tremendous amount of notes when I was in school, but it always took me longer to read that way and I'm far too impatient to start and stop my reading (I'll dog ear passages or try to remember page numbers for later but always forget). Before blogging I did jot down short notes about the books that I finished, but even this I had a difficult time to keep up with. Maybe one day...I do love the idea. When did you start keeping a journal?

  39. Melody - I'm guilty of buying blank books because of pretty covers too. :-)

    Trish - I began keeping my formal review journal six years ago and my notetaking reading journal 4 or 5 years ago. I was really sporadic about using the notetaking journal (the one I talk about here) until I began blogging. I can't imagine not keeping it now that I blog--it helps me remember little details and thoughts I may have while reading a book that would get lost by the end of the book.

    It used to slow my reading down, and I suppose to some extent it still does. But I'm so used to it now that I don't really notice. I am more likely to freak out a little if I don't have my notebook handy to jot down a thought when it comes to me than I am to worry about the stopping and starting. It's become such a part of reading process that it's second nature now.

  40. Thanks for sharing about your reading journal, Wendy! I find myself getting lazier these days in writing my reading journal. I must rectify that.

  41. Wendy, this is a great post! So thoughtfully bookish! :)

    Since 2001, I have used only Moleskine for journals. I began to dread parting with my journal as the pages are numbered! But I console myself myself as turning sort of a new chapter in my reader's life! Moleskine is not bulky, a slim volume of just 150 pages, so it's ideal for carrying it around with my current book. I usually do make an extensive entry until I have finished a book, leaving those thought-of-the-moment entries on post-its along the way.

  42. Alice - That happens to me sometimes too. :-)

    Matt - Thank you, Matt! I will have to try a moleskin journal one of these days. They should nice!

  43. I sometimes use a plain spiral bound notebook to make notes while reading. Maybe if I wrote in a beautiful journal my writing would be neater ... I have terrible penmanship!

  44. I don't really have a erading journal, although I've been tempted at various times.

  45. I keep a journal I write what I read and when I read it down in to cross-off (I also keep a list on the computer without the dates) and it really is starting to look tattered too!

  46. Dawn - I always start out with the best intentions in keeping my handwriting neat, but I quickly fall into my quick scribbles (and don't ask me to write in a straight line on unlined paper!).

    Carol - Journaling works well for me. You can always give it a test run and see if it's for you. :-)

    Jen - They do by the end, don't they? Mine definitely are well loved by the looks of them. LOL

  47. Great post. I don't keep reading journal- I used to, but I just kept starting and stopping, and after a while I just lost interest. Oh well!

  48. Marie - That's what happens to me with journals I try to keep on my personal life. For some reason though, I've had no problem keeping up with a reading journal.


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