The Writing Life

…a literary journey

Do you keep a reading journal?


I’ve often wanted to keep a reading notebook, but a recent obsession with buying journals has finally pushed me in that direction. Additionally, I just started reading The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, and I can’t think of a better novel to start with.

As a writer, I forever am jotting ideas, plots etc down in one notebook or another, but I thought keeping a reading journal may also help the writing. With the number of books I read, it’s hard to remember things that stand out or thoughts I want to remember. I do use Goodreads to track my books read and want to read, but I rarely do reviews there, so I’m left with highlights I’ve marked in my Kindle or on the pages of books. Those are great,  but how often am I going to remember that I highlighted something in a particular book?

Here are my top 5 reasons for starting a reading notebook:

  1. Record my thoughts and feelings as I am reading
  2. Key points if I did want to write a review
  3. Compare writing styles of authors – based on gender, decade of writing etc
  4. List questions I want to explore further about the subject matter, author etc
  5. Record quotes: This is a big one. At one point, I had a small notebook where I was going to put all my favorite quotes from what I was reading. This too fell by the wayside! Not to say that this time will be any different, but this particular notebook FEELS so wonderful and is so SIMPLE and PRETTY that I keep it out where I can see and touch anytime I want…so perhaps I’ll do a better job of being consistent.

I know there are specific journals for readers, but the ones I’m in love with right now are just simple lined notebooks from Studio Oh! – found at Books-A-Million. The covers of these journals feel amazing, and the pages lay flat which is a must if you’re going to write on both sides. A little pricey – the larger pink one was $13, the smaller lavender was $10, but so worth it to me. Their look and feel is top quality!

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The only difference is that the specific reading notebooks provide you formatted headers, but you can just write yourself on these plain-lined notebooks – Title, Author, type of book, publication date, rating etc

I wrote eight pages with thoughts on just Lessing’s introduction and the first Free Women section. She is an author that I’ve listed as wanting to read forever…one of those who I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t read.

Do you keep a reading journal? How long have you been doing it? Drop me a comment and let me know. Maybe you’re 100% digital or a combination…

2 comments on “Do you keep a reading journal?

  1. Randal Eldon Greene
    November 12, 2018

    I’ve tried keeping a notebook just for quotes. It was a 1 subject notebook and at some point I stopped using it.
    However, I think a writing journal is a great idea anyway. Maybe just having a place to reflect on the author and the book (rather than to squeeze out every wonderful quote) would help me retain more of what I read and generate further thought into a book as I digest and distill my impressions into words.

    • iamvickiroberts
      November 12, 2018

      Totally agree…because i read so much, i sadly forget things I’d like to remember. I’m hoping this will let me go back and reflect what stood out to me.

      Thanks so much for reading and taking time to reply!

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