On any given day, you’ll find me sitting on the back deck in the sunshine or the front porch in the rocker, or on the sofa with a cup of tea and a throw blanket over my lap. You’ll also see a stack of books topped off by my reader’s notebook. Why a stack of books? I am generally reading at least two books at a time — a novel, perhaps a juvenile or YA novel, and a non-fiction book or two.
I like to keep track of what I’ve read. I must admit, it’s a little bit of a pride issue — look what I’ve done! — but it’s also useful to jot thoughts or quotes that come to me as I’m reading. As a book-reviewer, having a notebook is helpful. Oftentimes that first overall impression comes to me a chapter into the book. When I put down the book and pick up my notebook so that I can write it down immediately, I find that I end up writing much better reviews than if I try to reconstruct that feeling days or weeks later.
However cavalier I am about the things I write (incomplete thoughts and messy handwriting), I have found that having a nice notebook has made a difference. I love notebooks. When spirals and composition books go on sale in August, I buy many. Cute colorful pocket-sized notebooks tempt me every time.
Whenever I was reading a book that I knew I was going to review, I did often use a random notebook to keep track of my thoughts. But it was only when I designated the beautiful soft red I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Leather journal* that a friend gave me for my birthday last year as my reader’s notebook that I’ve consistently recorded the books I’ve read.
For example, here’s some of my entry as I was reading Abraham Verghese’s novel Cutting for Stone. As you’ll see from my review, this book was not a typical read for me, so this might not be a typical entry:
Cutting For Stone — Amazon Vine 3/22 – 4/15 (break) 5/23-24
Slow going to start. C’mon Abe, show me what you got! Ch 4 — getting more interesting.
Caesarian delivery of twin boys (one of whom is narrating the story). It is during this crisis that I finally come to know a few of the characters.
Terry noticed, “That’s the longest I’ve ever seen you read a book” as he’s seen me carry it around a while. The last 1/4 was pretty page-turning. If the previous 350 pages had been that way, it would have been a 4-star read for sure.
It will probably never be something that will give my progeny an insight into my soul, but it is a keepsake — something more telling of my life than my appointment book. I started using it at the end of August 2008 and I’m about half-way through. I’m looking forward to choosing my next reader’s notebook when I fill the pages of this one.
Do you keep track of the books you’ve read? If so, what kind of notes do you keep?
*Coincidentally the journal is from Peter Pauper Press, which sponsored a Little Pink Books giveaway for Mother’s Day, and the Little Black Travel books and some fun activity books (review to come) for our Summer Fun Giveaway.
Managing Editor Jennifer Donovan just loves books. She’s thankful for her little place here in the book-loving blogosphere. She also blogs at Snapshot.