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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Reading Journal

Okay, so I don't actually have a reading journal. But recently at a talk, I heard MaryBeth Whalen, co-founder of SheReads, say that her reading journal is the closest thing to a journal that she has, and a light went off in my mind when she said it. That's so true! I've never been much for journaling (which is crazy because I have a terrible memory.) I can do one for a short period, like I did keep a note of what we did each day on our first cruise. But I just can't keep it up. On the other hand, many people say to me that they're impressed with how I keep up my Goodreads account. I don't see that as any trouble at all. When I start a book, I look it up and either add it or just change the status from To Read to Currently Reading. When I finish, I change the status again (and this time it's even easier because it's no trouble to find a book in my Currently Reading list.) If I weren't a diligent reviewer, I could just add stars right there and move on. I think the way I do it is easy because I maintain it, so I never do more than a couple of minutes at a time. If I were to postpone it, wait until the end of the month and have a bunch of stuff to update, it would feel more like a chore, plus I'd need to find a chunk of time. But I need to keep it maintained.

Why? Because of my above-mentioned terrible memory. I started keeping a list of all the books I read back around 1998. That's when I had my first "real" job at Ingram Book Group and one thing I had to do was research "comps" for upcoming books from my publishers. Yes, the editorial and sales departments already should have done that for me, but sometimes they didn't (or they did a bad job of it. You can't just compare every chick lit novel to Bridget Jones' Diary.) And one of the books on the list would invariably lead me to say to myself, "This is just like that book I read a few years ago, that book.... What the hell was the name of that book?" So the list began. For many years it was the only thing I did in my lovely leather Franklin Planner (which now serves zero purpose). And then I found Goodreads.

But what's cool is that it is like a journal for me. I can almost always remember where I was when I read a book. I'll be able to narrow down a year because I know I read it in New York. Or I know I read that in St. Croix. I can remember which apartment in Nashville I lived in when I read a certain book. I know which book I read when I visited New York to interview. I remember which books were vacation books, which books were home books, and then there are some books where I don't remember and I don't know if that's because I read them in a variety of places or what. But most of them I can. So for me, when I look at my list of books, I really am taking a trip down memory lane as I remember which books I borrowed from the cruise ship library, which books I read after final exams my senior year in college, and which books I read on a plane (one I really wanted to throw but that's not advisable on a plane.) I rarely remember if I owned them or not, where on earth they went to, and I have trouble remember the plots (hence the diligence to reviews now), but the where sticks with me and from that come the memories. So my list of books is my journal. Does anyone else experience this? Or am I unique in remember where I was when I read things?

1 comment:

Karen said...

I totally remember where I was when I read a book! I wonder why that is. It's similar to how you smell a scent and it takes you back to a memory, it must be something with how your brain experiences things. And maybe I didn't read the WHOLE book in places that I have tied to my memory, but they're still tied together for some reason. I read The Yearling when we lived in Decatur, in a great old house that I have fond memories of, and I read the first of the Outlander series sitting on the picnic table out in the front yard of our first home in Elkin while Caroline played in her baby pool. Just a couple that your blog made me think of!