Why I Keep A Reading Journal Frank Stalla | Mar 27, 2018
A book journal is a simply a record of the books that you’ve read along with some notes that help you to recollect your thoughts on each one. It can be as simple as a listing of each title or as elaborate as character profiles. I have kept a book journal for about seven years. I wish I’d kept it longer. This is a brief listing of the reasons I keep my journal.
1. I have a terrible memory
There’s nothing more frustrating that knowing that I’ve read something and not being able to recall any specifics from it. Reading, after all, takes some time and effort. To allow that investment to vanish into the fog of my cluttered mind seems like a terrible injustice. A reading journal is a way to grab onto at least a few of the most relevant details while still fresh in my mind. Also, I find that the very act of writing even just sketchy notes helps me to retain more of the book in my memory.
2. I want credit for what I read
Given that I’ve put some effort into reading a book, I want people to know that I’ve read it. Back in the day, when people would host friends in their homes, half the fun was a bit of guest-snooping. While the low-brow crowd went for the medicine cabinet, the high-minded went for the bookcase. Nowadays, space is limited and hardbound books are expensive so we rely on our Kindles and Audible, which are hard to put on display and even harder to subtly peruse. My reading journal makes it easier to track and occasionally share my accomplishments with my friends.
3. I like to set reading goals
While I rarely accomplish all of them, I do like to come up with a set of New Year resolutions. Always included on that list is the number of books I want to finish before the calendar runs out. There’s an old adage in business management, “if you’re not measuring it, you’re not managing it.” Tracking progress in my book journal is the best way I know of to meet my annual reading goal.
4. Books often come up in conversation
Whether meeting new people or catching up with old friends, my conversations sooner or later wander into what we’re reading now or maybe what we’ve just finished. It seems that fairly often we’ve read the same book only at different times. Going back to revisit a book that unexpectedly came up is both satisfying and helpful if I can do it on the spot.
5. Wish lists
Most of the books I read are either recommendations from friends or featured in a book review. I needed a place to write the title and/or author down before I forget (see point number one).
Every couple or three years, I like to drag out the old box ‘o memories and revisit days gone by. My book journal is a way of doing that with reads. It’s a brief glimpse into what I was thinking and feeling at the time. The things that struck me about a book at the time come back to mind like hearing an old song.
So, I recommend keeping a book journal. Make it simple at first, maybe just a list. I think soon you’ll find, like I did, that you wish you did it sooner.