Consider Starting a Reading Journal this Winter: Thoughts from English Department Intern Joseph Shoulders
- Joseph Shoulders
- Monday, January 4th, 2021
As the semester nears its end, I become more excited to start my winter reading list like a typical English major. I love reading without the deadlines of classes, but I recently realized that I am more engaged with course texts. This is an issue since I want to read everything thoughtfully, so I looked for a solution and found ideas for keeping a reading journal. There are many ways to approach a reading journal, but the gist is to keep track of what you’re reading by writing down the book titles, the dates you read them, and your comments on the text. What details you add to this depends on your goal for keeping a reading journal.
One goal can be to determine what you enjoy reading. You should note variables such as the author, publisher, genre, and publishing date. Then, after finishing a book, you rate how much you enjoyed it. Comparing the ratings to the variables, you will see patterns of what you enjoy.
Many people struggle with their reading speed and are unsure if they’re improving. A reading journal can help you keep track of this. After a reading session, you write down the number of pages read and the time frame of the session. With this log, you can determine your average reading speed and compare it to past readings. You can also see what time you tend to read and how that may affect your speed.
Often, when people finish a book, they move onto the next one without much reflection. A reading journal can encourage you to reflect during and after reading. Many people write down quotes or scenes that strike them and write their responses. After each chapter, you can reflect on what affected you and what you think may happen next, or you can wait until the end of the book to write a more synthesized reflection on how the book changed you.
Lastly, as English majors, reading journals can be a place to take notes and compile ideas for future projects. If you analyze literature, as you read, you write down themes or questions to explore and quotes that relate to them. After reading, you connect the text to prior studies and readings. These recordings may inspire research and essays. If you’re a writer, you list quotes that you wish you wrote, and note what made them effective. You may also note scenes with impressive techniques or ones to critique. After reading, you analyze the characters and writing style. These observations will give tangibility to your thoughts as you read like a writer.
I am looking forward to starting my reading journal during the break using methods of each purpose. I hope you consider starting one, too, since we should all be more conscious of what we’re reading. Feel free to get creative and use other methods you find helpful!