One of my favorite end of the year projects is to organize my book journal for the new year. My previous journal documents two years of my reading life, but doesn’t haven’t enough pages for a third year, so off I went to my favorite store for notebooks, pens, and other good stuff (Wet Paint on Grand Avenue, St Paul, https://wetpaintart.com) where I found the same notebook in blue, rather than red. Change is good!
I added a fun notecard made by an Etsy artist to the front cover and started numbering the pages.
On the first page is my Index or Table Of Contents where I will add headings as the year progresses. Here’s what on that page right now:
Thoughts About My Reading Life and 2022 Intentions –page 3
Remaining Books From 2021 TBR Lists –pages 4,5
Books Unread From Books Acquired in 2021 –page 6
Library Hold List –page 7
I also included pages for new TBR (To Be Read) Lists divided into alphabetical divisions, according to the author’s last name, such as a page for ABC and another for DEF etc.
As the year progresses, I will add other headings and pages, such as Books Acquired in 2022 or specific categories of books, such as Books to Re-Read.
Of course, the main purpose of the journal will be to note what I have read. I like keeping separate lists for fiction and nonfiction, and I also divide the lists into the months of the year. Each entry includes a brief summary of the book, along with my reflection/evaluation of the book and perhaps any quotes I want to remember.
Rather than setting aside a certain number of pages for these lists, I simply note in the index an additional page number for the new part of a list. This is the Bullet Journal style. For example:
Fiction Books Read –pages 15, 20, 27, 31, 33, 34, 37, 39, 41, 42, 45,
Last year I read 120 books–76 fiction and 44 nonfiction. In 2020 I read 137 books with about the same ratio of fiction to nonfiction. I don’t set a goal for how many books I hope to read in a year, but this year I have set an intention to read more carefully. I read quickly and don’t always savor what I read, as much as I want to.
I acquired 72 books last year. Some books were gifts and some I found in Little Free Libraries, but, of course, I purchased many of them. Books have always been necessities, rather than luxuries in our household. Out of the 72 books added to our shelves, I have read 59 of them so far. Not all of the 59 remain on our shelves. Some have been passed on to Free Libraries in the neighborhood or to friends or family.
My reading intentions for the new year are to continue making good use of the library and to shop independent books stores MUCH more than Amazon. I will also continue with the ongoing process of letting go of books. The last two years one of my spiritual practices during Lent has been to remove at least one book each day from my garret bookshelves.
I also intend to shop my own shelves. What haven’t I read yet or what do I want to re-read? Last year I re-read all the Louise Penny books and enjoyed them just as much, maybe more, as I did the first time. I also re-read other favorites, such as Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House and Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World. This year I think I may re-read all of the novels by Minnesota writer, Jon Hassler, along with other favorites by Ann Patchett. Mrs Dalloway and To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf are calling my name once more, and in an article I read about all-time favorite books, novels by Carol Shields were mentioned, and I think I would enjoy re-reading those too. But no promises–I will read what appeals and read where my heart –and my attention–is drawn.
And, of course, I am like a crow attracted to the bright, shiny, and new. My husband gave me Louise Erdrich’s latest, The Sentence, and I think that will be my first read of the new year. He just finished reading Amor Towle’s The Lincoln Highway, and I am eager to read that as well. I suspect early into the new year a couple of the books I requested from the library will be on hold, and those will take precedence. The piles never diminish, but merely shift in shape and content.
Another intention is to note who recommended a book when I add it to a TBR list. My favorite sources include BookWomen (http://www.bookwomen.net) and Modern Mrs Darcy (https://modernmrsdarcy.com –both her blog and her podcast), but I read the NYTimes Book Review, the Washington Post and a variety of other blogs that mention books, too.
I also intend to note the number of pages for each book and to take more care with my summaries and include more favorite quotes or passages.
Keeping a book journal is not a necessity, but for me, doing so adds to the pleasure of my reading life.
All this writing about books and my book journal makes me want to read. Who says I need to wait till January 1 to start reading Louise Erdrich’s new book? Today is a perfect day to turn more pages.
An Invitation: Do you have any reading plans for the new year? I would love to know.