My Book Journals

My book journals

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.

My 1997 book journal

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.

One of the most beat-up notebooks.

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.”

And I was amused to find that I did write a TBR list on the first page of this notebook in 2008 when I first bought it.  Here is the list:

The TBR list from 2008

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?

15 thoughts on “My Book Journals

  1. I kept a book journal (just record of title, author and book read) for years starting when I was a teenager. I gave it up sometime in my twenties, I think. But since I started blogging I’ve been keeping one, for the last few years using desk calendar (I write the book details on the date when I finished the book). My current one is my favorite so far, the 2018 Folio Society Diary.

    I’m terrible at keeping track of all my books at Goodreads, though I do it in a scattershot fashion. I’m better at paper for this.

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    • A desk calender sounds perfect. And I do love Folio Society books! The lists work pretty well for me, but I could certainly go for one of these.

      Goodreads is fun, but I do forget to put in the date and other things that make it show up on stats.

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  2. I have recently started to keep track of what’s I read on Goodreads and wish that I do done it much earlier. I have no record, other than my memory, of what I’ve read and while that isn’t too bad at the moment I suspect it may not always be reliable.

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  3. I keep track of all my books at Goodreads and, recently, I’ve been also using an Excel spreadsheet – playing with tables & graphics has been fun so far! I’ve never had a written book journal, only my blog – but I do not write as regularly as I wish… Lovely post, Kat! Seeing your notebooks tempted me to keep one, too…

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  4. Since the 1960s, I’ve kept short summaries of the books I’ve read and the date I finished them on 3 x 5 cards. At some point, I went through them and sorted them by date read. I typed up a sheet for each year so I could easily see what I’d read each year. A couple of years ago, I created a program in FileMaker that allows me to sort and search the books I’ve read by title, author, and date finished. I love being able to find authors or books in seconds. I also keep a notebook of books read that gets entered into FileMaker at the end of each year and I still keep my 3 x 5 card reviews. It may be overkill, but I’m obsessive about some things.

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    • I love the idea of index cards. I have a rolodex here just waiting for use. Wow, I never heard of FileMaker and will have to look into that.

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  5. I *wish* I’d kept better records of my reading over the years, but I didn’t – I’ve had the occasional sporadic attempt at a book journal, but mostly thoughts on what i read ended up scattered through ordinary journals. The blog now functions as a reading record and I do keep a spreadsheet now – but notebooks are much prettier…

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  6. I have never managed to stick to any handwritten journals/ notebooks about books that I have started. A shame because who doesn’t love a pretty hardback notebook?

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    • Yes, the internet has taken over our book journals, because it is so much fun to see the images and interact with others. I like to have both. It feels different!

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  7. I’ve been keeping an A6 hardback book journal since Jan 1997. I have about a book a year, and tend to start a new book in a new year now. I used to write very short reviews; now they are about a page, sometimes more. I copy them into my blog but sometimes write more in the blog .. and sometimes I’m SLIGHTLY less forthright on the blog. Sometimes. They all now live in a big Muji box and one day I will get them all indexed into an Excel file I have half-done, so I can see what I read when and bring out the older, pre-blog, reviews.

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  8. Pingback: My book journal | 2018 – the [blank] garden

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