Starting a Reading Journal: The How & Why, and My Experience
Although I’m relatively new to book blogging, I have a degree in English, so I’m no stranger to writing about books. However, I’ll admit, blog-style book reviews are much different from the papers I wrote for class!
For my first couple reviews on Literary Quicksand, I didn’t have a reading journal. When it came time for me to write my review, I found myself struggling with parts. I wanted to quote the book, but hadn’t written down or otherwise indicated my favorite passages. Character names would elude me, and ideas I had for my review would vanish.
So, I started a reading journal. And it’s wonderful! Not only is it a fantastic way for me to take notes while I’m reading about specific details I’d like to include in my review, but it helps me think more critically about a book while I’m reading. Not that I don’t enjoy getting sucked into the story (which I do rather regularly and don’t take notes for a hundred pages), but I really enjoy exploring deeper thoughts about the work while I’m reading it. Note taking, so far, makes this happen much more naturally. I can’t help but stop and think when I’m writing things down.
The other reason I’ve found reading journaling to be really satisfying is because it’s an excuse to actually put pen to paper. So much of our world is digital these days that there’s something so special about a fresh notebook sheet and a pen, and being alone with a book and a journal. Now, when I was in college and taking notes every day in class, I’m not sure if I’d feel the same way about this. Reading for pleasure in college for me (although it didn’t happen often due to course load) was definitely more for escape and didn’t involve much critical thinking.
That’s why you can make a reading journal into whatever you want, and journal about whatever’s most important to you and your reading goals. Maybe that means it’s just an easy list of books you’ve read with a couple details, or maybe it’s something more like mine with notes on how long it took me to read, characters, quotes, themes, and other nerdy awesome details.
So, I want to know…do you keep notes while you’re reading? Or just a list of what you’ve read? Do you find putting pen to paper as satisfying as I do? Weigh in please!