“With no small amount of trepidation, I lay open here the first page of my diary high-schoolish stabs at intellectualism, fleeting girlish obsessions, deliberately obscure annotations and all. After many failed adolescent attempts at keeping a journal, the summer after my junior year in high school, I finally found a format I could adhere to: Never mind describing the back-and-lack-of-forths of unrequited crushes and falling-outs with friends. I decided to list the books I read instead.”
Essay, My Life With Bob
Keeping Track of Reading Habits With a ‘Book of Books’
New York Times
April 13, 2012
Pamela Paul’s essay warms my heart. When our ways of engaging with and keeping track of books is becoming increasingly digital – even “in the cloud”, not tangibly or physically connected to us – how lovely is it to see a paper diary with handwritten entries capturing someone’s life in reading? As soon as I saw this picture in my paper copy of the New York Times Sunday Book Review. I immediately connected with the picture and the essay because I’ve been doing the same thing as Pamela for close to 30 years (gulp).
I have a battered little bound diary in which I have been recording my reading since I graduated in 1983 from the University of Waterloo with a BA in Honors English (co-op). Surprisingly, I was not at all weary of all the reading I did as a student, and continued merrily along right after graduation. My first few entries in my Book of Books are:
April 28, 1983
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (reread)
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh May 20, 1983
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
… and on it goes from there. (Click on the picture accompanying this post to glimpse a couple of pages from 1989.) My only regret is that I didn’t start keeping a Book of Books sooner.
The spine on my Book of Books has come unglued on one side in all that time, but it still holds a place of honour on the shelf over my home office desk. I take it down and record my latest book completed as part of the beloved ritual of adding another book to one of my fondest memory banks of all.
Twitter, Goodreads, Bibliocommons and their ilk allow me to connect with other readers, for which I’m immensely grateful. My Book of Books allows me to connect with my own personal history as a reader, which is priceless.
Book of Books (BOB) Pinterest board
I’ve started capturing pictures of people’s gorgeous, textured, much loved book diaries. If you would like me to pin your book diary to this collection, leave a comment here with a link.