Book Diary

Over organized. That is one way that I describe myself. Sometimes that’s good (I do know where almost everything is in our house) and sometimes that’s bad (I really do try my best not to fiddle with Paul’s stacks of stuff.)

So it may be that only over-organized types like me who see the value in a Book Diary.FullSizeRender (2) I first started keeping one in 1972 but stopped in 1974 when child #1 made all but the basics impossible. I came across it recently (while tidying, of course) and was intrigued by how much more literary my reading tastes were then. It was well before I discovered the pure joy of reading romance. That happended after child #2 was born in 1975.

It’s interesting (to me at least) that I started a book diary again when Paul retired and our life slowed down considerably, giving me more time to read and more time to keep track of what I read.

Most people complain that they do not have time for a book diary but anyone has time for the sort that I keep. It is nothing more than Date/Title/Author and one or two words about the book that will jog my memory if necessary. If it’s great I give it a star. I do one book per page in a small 5 x 7 notebook (see photo above for current edition) and if I do not finish the book I draw a diagonal line through the page with Date/Title/Author and one or two words describing why I tossed it across the room.

Once or twice I’ve thought about doing a spread sheet so I could look at the diary in different ways — by name of author or by date read but that begins to feel like work. Heaven knows I don’t need to find more ways to spend time at the computer. So it’s still the old-fashioned paper and ink method for me.

51QTjDIChNL._AA160_My last starred entry is THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE – juvenile fiction. It’s the story of a girl and her brother who are evacuated from London at the beginning of WWII. Loved it, laughed and cried. My last literary entry is THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER by Junot Daiz (for my book club) My note says great writing, unlikable characters but I did not need my notes to remind me. It is a fascinating look at the Dominican 51+lomECJPL._AA160_immigrant culture and filled with bad language and sex which would not have bothered me a bit if I had actually liked any of the characters. My last unread entry is THE NEW YORK TIMES PRESENTS SMARTER BY SUNDAY which defines itself as “fifty two weekends of essential knowledge for the curious mind.” I can tell you the topics were not ones that I was curious about. My most recent romance is Lavinia Klein’s latest 51X1LLJ4vaL._AA160_RAVISHING RUBY. Erotic is not my favorite romance subgenre but Lavinia’s are so clever and endearing that I enjoy every word.

So why keep a Book Diary? So you can remind yourself of books you’ve read. (Oh, yeah, I loved that book) So you know where to look when someone asks for a good book to read and you draw a blank. (Better than “Uhm.”)So you can congratulate yourself on how much you read.

What about you? Do you keep a Book Diary and if not can you tell me what was the last fabulous book you read, or the last literary book or the last one you did not finish. Oh and the last romance!

About Mary Blayney

I have been writing both contemporary and regency romances since 1986, first with contemporary romances for Silhouette and later with historicals set in the Regency period. Family will always play a strong part in my books since, for me, family relationships are as fundamental as the love between a man and a woman.
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19 Responses to Book Diary

  1. I, too, kept one pretty consistently from college until my children arrived in the 1980s…when I look at it now I see I was ‘teaching’ myself about the craft of writing by noting how clever an author was on structure, or why I loved certain words ‘the ceaseless sigh and whisper of the sea’ was one entry I memorized. Don’t do it now, except for in my head and the occasional review of a book on Amazon. It does seem time consuming, even the way you do it dear Mary, but it may simply be I am not as organized as you. You think? HA! Enjoyed the blog.

    • Mary Blayney says:

      I have no doubt that you are MORE organized than I am, Emelle. But it does not surprise me that we both had book diaries early on though at that point in my life I did not think I had a future as a writer. Thanks for sharing.

    • Joy Bartholomew says:

      NO ONE is as organized as Mary is! She’s truly an inspiration.

  2. diane says:

    Isn’t Goodreads a virtual (and more public) way of keeping a book diary? I aspire to use Goodreads more actively, but, then, I aspire to a lot of things, like to read more.

    The last book I read was Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold, but I’ll save my impression of that one for when my Bujold book club meets on Saturday.

    Before that…I can’t remember! Which is why I should keep a book diary. I used to when I started reading again after the kids were no longer so needy and after I finished my MSW and when I started writing.

    Thanks for reminding me about keeping a book diary! Now I aspire to start one again.

    • Mary Blayney says:

      Diane, I do not use Goodreads nearly as much as I should but the same can be said for most other social media. Looking forward to the Bujold Book Club and a lively discussion of her latest.

  3. Elaine Fox says:

    I find it fascinating that you can see how your tastes have changed, Mary. I’ve been on a library kick lately and one of the (many) things I love about it is the receipt for the books showing the due date. I’ve been keeping these and marking the books I finished and the ones I either never got to or gave up on. I tried to keep a book diary because I love the idea of one, but I kept forgetting to use it! Maybe this will make it easier. 🙂

    • Mary Blayney says:

      Hey Elaine! I love the idea of using library due date slips as a “diary” — excellent repurposing. And I’ve been using my library more lately too — maybe I will blog about that next time.

  4. Elena Greene says:

    Life has been so uncooperative lately that I’ve had little time to read, let alone keep track. Sigh… This too shall pass.

    I did use Goodreads, at least to note some of my favorite books. I like to give those a boost and I also think that letting readers know my tastes and interests helps them know where I’m coming from as a writer. However, in a precaffeinated moment I accidentally blew away all the books I’d rated. Putting them back is still on my To Do List, but not very high!

  5. Gail Gall says:

    I now write down the name of each book in my paper pocket sized day book. For awhile I keep a great book diary of books I read during summer cruising. Before e readers, I would bring a pile of books onboard every June. One year, I had eight of Kenneth Roberts historical novels and read them in order!
    I like Goodreads, but only post when sent an email reminder so that limits my list to the books I’ve downloaded via Amazon and Kindle.
    Good for you, Mary!

    • Mary Blayney says:

      Hi Gail! Thanks for commenting. Using the paper pocket size day book is a great idea but mine is just too crowded with my schedule and what the rest of the family/friends are doing. Wonder how many of us still use the paper pocket size calendar. I use my phone for so much but do not use the calendar for activities!

  6. Addison Fox says:

    This post made my heart happy (and is at least reason #822 why we’re friends!) I’ve kept a book diary since high school – and am pretty compulsive about it. I only put in books I finish but love the process of capturing what I’ve read.

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!!

  7. Teresa (Broderick) says:

    I’ve never kept a book diary but WOW! what a great idea. I do use Good Reads quite a bit of late but I’ll be starting up my own notebook now. Can’t believe I didn’t do it before. I read so many books it’s hard to keep track of them for recommendations. Great post.

    • Mary Blayney says:

      Thanks for replying, T. I am going to spend a little more time with Goodreads and see if it fills the bill. Yes, exactly — when you read as many books as romance readers do it really helps to keep even the most rudimentary diary.

  8. Sally Douglass says:

    Years ago I did this much more consistently than I do now. Several reading friends and I always included a list of favorites in our Christmas cards! Have not done very well with Christmas cards either these last few years! I still appreciate recommendations. Must start a book diary in 2016. Thanks for the nudge, Mary.

    • Mary Blayney says:

      I love the idea of favorites in Christmas Cards. Thanks for the idea, Sally. I recall very fondly the book diary that Bob kept — in alpha order in a little address book.

  9. Susan/DC says:

    I keep a book diary or, more accurately, a spreadsheet. I use spreadsheets at work, so this is fast and easy for me. I keep track of author, title, names of hero/heroine (if applicable), date read, date of publication, number of pages read (even if I didn’t finish), and a brief description plus comment. The description is usually taken directly from the back or flyleaf, so I don’t have to think about it, but the comment is my own 25-word-or-less reaction to the book. I’ve the memory of a gnat, and if I didn’t have the description I’d not have a book diary but simply a list and have no clue which book was which and whether I liked it.

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