Thursday, 22 August 2013

Day Zero Project: Keep a record of books & review them in a book journal

This is one of my Day Zero targets which was a bit of a cheat because it's actually something I've already been doing for the last couple of years.

A few years ago I was given a gift card for Christmas so Mr Click took me to Ayr to spend it. I couldn't find anything I fancied so we traded; he gave me cash and I gave him the gift card. We then headed to Waterstones where I treated myself to a Moleskine Book Journal. It was my first of what is now totalling three of these books.

They're beautiful hardback, casebound books, with tabs through them (like an address book) with six pages for each letter. Each page gives you space to record the book name and author, as well as when you read it, when it was published, quotes and a review. The back has six customisable tabs which you can use for whatever you want (it comes with stickers you can put onto the tabs, or blank ones so you can fill in what you need). I tend to use one for my To-Read list, and vary the others depending on what I'm in the mood for (in the past I've used 'Characters' to record my favourites in the books I've been reading, and 'Words' to record words that were unfamiliar to me or which I liked the sound of).

The one thing that's missing from the book information pages is someplace to record the actual number of pages in the book (which is something that I like to know), but there's space for me to add that in myself. I also record which book it is for that year (so I know how many I've read each year) and whether it's a '1st time read' or a 'Reread' (because that's good to know too).

The Moleskine website allows you to print additional pages for your books from their Journal range (they do all sorts; Wine, Film, Music, Dogs, Babies), which is handy as the first year I had one I read the books from the Myth-series which meant I quickly used up all my Ms. For some reason there seem to be an awful lot of books whose titles begin with the letter S as well!

I'm fairly religious about recording quotes from the books that I read. In the past I used to do it kind of higgledy-piggledy, just scribbling down anything that caught my eye. Now I try to be a bit more structured because you don't have massive amounts of space for them. I divide the number of pages in the book by five and then pick a quote from roughly each fifth. Some books I might be able to squeeze in seven or eight quotes, others I'll only find two that I want to record.

I also write a bullet-pointed list of things I thought about the book as a review when I reach the end. This usually inspires my reviews here. Sometimes each point is expanded into a couple of paragraphs; sometimes all the points say more or less the same thing and it makes for a very short blog post! I also give it between one and five stars (which if I ever get more organised I'll record here as well).

At any one time I'm usually somewhere between a week and a month behind on my book reviews on my blog compared to what I'm actually reading. It's just worked out that way because I post one review a week and sometimes I read three or more books in that time. If I read a big or heavy-going book which takes a while to get through it gives me a bit of time to get caught up.

I like the fact that I can keep my book journals on the bookcase alongside all the other books. It means I can keep a record of which order to read a series in (particularly useful if I don't have all the books) as well as check back and see how my opinion has changed on the books I'm rereading (very interesting when you do this with the books I had to read for my last literature course).

Although I can be a wee bit lax at updating my book journal sometimes, I hope that this is something that I can continue to do for a long time because it's going to be an interesting record to look back on in the future.

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Let me know what you think. :-)