The Case For Writing Down Every Book You Read
In 2017 I started writing down every book I read. I was sure I had mentioned this somewhere on this site, at least in passing, but APPARENTLY NOT. That's odd, because once I started keeping track of every book I was reading, I realized what a genius idea it was, and I told everyone. I thought it would just be something nice for me to look back on, but I've referenced that list SO MANY TIMES. When someone wants a recommendation of a book to read, when my mom wants to know what books she should buy for her library's collection, when I want to know when I read that one book (I never, ever remember when I read a book - but I do remember that I read it... at some point). I also had a little reference system for noting when a book was for my book club, and when I book was for a reading challenge.
All this was in my bullet journal, until I read Pamela Paul's My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues and I thought, "WHY am I keeping my list of books in my journal?! I need a separate book of all my books I've read, and then I can look back on years of reading all in one place!" So, inspired by my own list of books and Pamela Paul's BoB (Book of Books), I bought a hardcover Moleskine notebook and made a dedicated Book of Books of my own.
Here's the first page of 2018 (I copied all of 2017's books over from my journal, don't worry). It's a very simple system. There's no rating system, no commentary. I just put the year at the top and a little key for my symbols and then add books as I read them, divided by month. You may notice that I've been making my way through Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series this year, and unfortunately after realizing Richard Lloyd Parry was the lone male author featured in my Read Harder Challenge, I've booted him from the list and I'm reading only women this year. (This is not to say that Ghosts of the Tsunami isn't a great book, and you should absolutely read People Who Eat Darkness, which is my favorite true crime book.) (SECOND PARENTHESES! If you watch the Japan episode of Dark Tourist after reading Ghosts of the Tsunami, the tv show becomes very... interesting. I was going to write sensationalist but you can come up with your own opinions I GUESS.)
I only write on one page as there is some bleed through, and I have enough pages in this little book to last me until old age. I don't carry the book with me, it just sits on a shelf in my house, so if I'm on a trip, say, and I read three books, I just take photos of the books (more accurately, I take photos of them in my Libby app) and add them to the Book of Books once I'm home. It also makes you feel like a real Matilda to add 3 or 4 books at one time, let me tell ya.
You can make up whatever rules you like if you decide to start recording all the books you read. If you have kids, do the books you read to your kids count? Do books you listen to on long car rides count? Do books you reread count? (In my opinion, all of these DEFINITELY count, but you make your own rules!) I am a big fan of ways to look back on the past that don't take up a lot of space (I have been saving ticket stubs for 20 years. The box they're in is like, toddler shoebox size), and this is a great one. I can't wait till I have a decade of books to look back on. I can't wait till I can look back on each time I've reread the same book, and see how often I choose to reread it. Most of all, I can't believe how something so simple and easy has brought me (and others, shockingly!) so much joy over the 19 months I've been doing it. I urge you to write down every book you read - it'll change your life.