I recently read an amusing post at Stuck-in-a-Book about book journals. He is busy consolidating his lists into a single notebook. While he copied titles and authors into his new notebook, I experimented with my 2018 book journal. Inspired by Goodreads stats, I added categories in columns: Genre, Why?, Copyright, and Star Ratings.
It Was Not for the Better. I returned to my original format.
In my first book journal, which I recently found in a box, I wrote the title, author, and date (when I remembered) and sometimes a short response to the book. On January 6, 1997, I was enthusiastic about Wright Morris’s Plains Song: “This novel about three generations of women in the harsh Midwest reminded me of Willa Cather’s books. Cora, the unsmiling matriarch, reminded me of my grandmother. Life on the farm was hard. So hard. Iincomprehensible to me surrounded by books. This novel really grew on me.”
In the next entry, I said I hated Amy Bloom’s Love Invents Us: “The worst novel I’ve read this year.” Outlander: “Cult reading at its weirdest.” Brenda Peterson’s Sister Stories: “A non-fiction book that explores the sister bond and the role of women’s friendships. Worth reading!” And some of the titles I don’t remember at all. Playing the Bones by Louise Redd?
In later book journals, I was less thorough: I never wrote “reviews.” From Feb. 2008 – December 2012, I kept a list of titles, authors, and dates in a journal with a stained glass motif on the cover. During these years I read a lot of Monica Dickens, Charles Dickens, Ruth Suckow, H. G. Wells, Pamela Hansford Johnson, and Elizabeth von Arnim.
Then there was the Miquelrius notebook with graph paper (2013-2015). The binding cracked.
From 2016- 2017, I listed titles, authors, and dates in an orange Moleskine notebook. This year I switched to a tall orange Nava Notes notebook, because I wanted to expand my notebook to include short reviews.
And so it begins. I wrote this month about The Ice House by Laura Lee Smith: “An entertaining novel, very well-written, about a group of people facing an OSHA investigation of an ice factory, and the consequences. A very good read. No much going on beneath the surface, though.”
I did not check off all the books I read. I actually read:
Home by Marilynne Robinson
Shoulder the Sky by D. E. Stevenson
Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill by Hugh Walpole
Precious Bane by Mary Webb (a reread)
Pamela Hansford Johnson, 19 books
The Hireling by L. P. Hartley
The Green Mirror by Hugh Walpole
How do you write your book journals? Do you keep track of books at Goodreads? Or write in notebooks?