My Reading Journal

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This post contains spoilers for The Princess Bride by William Goldman. 

I haven’t kept a reading journal for a long time, and I feel like I really want to start again. So, this’ll be a post for fondly remembering all the things I liked about documenting my reading, and hopefully doing that and hearing new ideas from you guys will properly motivate me to work this particular practice back into my life.

So, here’s my journal 🙂

Journal

It’s a pretty basic set-up. When I start a new book, I put the title and author at the top, and dates and page numbers in the margins. My notes were sometimes plot summaries, but more often just things that occur to me while I’m reading. Like, if I find an exchange of dialog particularly emotional, I’ll document exactly what I’m feeling for the characters and hypothesize about why the words were so well-chosen.

For example: when I was reading the Princess Bride, I was really struck by the father saying, “Westley dies.” Somehow that scene was a more direct emotional hit than an actual death scene. So I explored that a bit. Was it the just the fact that the phrase was in the present tense, and that’s a departure from the ordinary? Was it the intimacy of having someone else say without any doubts that it’s happening? Was it because when they speak about book characters, the events are immovable and therefore sadder?

If I hadn’t been keeping a reading journal at the time, I probably would have just carried on, and later forgotten that the scene had touched me so much. It makes me wonder if I’m missing other chances for growth, and that’s the main reason why I want to start again.

mosaicOn a far less insightful level, I really enjoyed tracking books in the front of the journal where the class schedule is supposed to go. I’d mark down title, author, number of pages, duration of reading, and genre. And that, dear blog buddies, was the part that made the organized part of me squeal like a fangirl. I mean, really… all those little boxes! Such a concise punctuation on the reading experience! And if only I’d continued, eventually I’d have all the boxes filled in like a neat and orderly mosaic of literary adventures!! Very pretty, yes? Maybe? (if not, kindly scroll up a couple paragraphs to where I was being serious and responsible…)

 

 

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Okay. So, that’s my reading journal experience. Who else out there has done or is doing something similar? As you may have noticed, I have a keen fondness for the unique processes and methods people use to organize their thoughts.

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2 responses »

  1. Oh. Wow. I can honestly say I’ve never heard of this before! I’ve heard of other kinds of journals, but never a reading journal. How intriguing!

    I’m not gonna lie–when I started reading this, the thought of a reading journal made me cringe. I thought, “How on earth can she stand that, writing down her thoughts while trying to read a book?” But the more I read, and the more you explained the opportunities for growth, the more I thought, oh hey, this is actually really cool!

    I don’t think I could possibly stand keeping one for all the books I read, as I just like to read a book through and make my final conclusions when I reach the end and then move on, but I’m really inspired to try this for my favourite book, Brave Story. I’ve read this book a couple times and have wished that I could write something like it myself. There’s just something about it that is so special to me, but I can never quite put my finger on what it is. So I would be very interested in keeping a reading journal for it, picking out parts I like, reflecting on why I like it, to see if perhaps one day I could write my own Brave Story.

    You have inspired me. Thanks for sharing, and best of luck keeping up your own reading journal! 😀

  2. Oooh, reading journals? Sounds interesting, but I think I have too little focus to be able to keep one. My reading habits are sneaking in pages when in the bathroom because I know my children are going to barge in at any moment. That’s what I love about e-readers is I can switch it off and set it down as my 1-year-old tries his best to grubbify it. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing.

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