I spent the New Year’s weekend emptying my tiny apartment of extraneous items (Goodbye, shipping container for laptop I no longer possess! See you in hell, corduroy pants that no longer fit!). Whenever I go excavating in the deep recesses my domicile, I always turn up some interesting stuff. This time, I found a reading journal I tried to keep in 2005. I was working at a truly painful and depressing job in Iowa City at the time (Let’s just say that standardized testing and customer service work is a deadly combination), and I probably needed something to make me feel like I was progressing as a human being. Apparently writing down some thoughts on every book I read that year seemed like the way forward. Like I said, it was a weird time.
I read a lot that year, but the first entry in the journal is dated 2/14/05. The reason for this is that the first book I read in 2005 was Robert Caro’s massive and wonderful The Power Broker. I wrote a full three pages in a notebook (in pretty small handwriting) about the book, including thoughts on its structure and pacing, its strengths and weaknesses. Reading back through it, I remembered things about the book I’d forgotten. It was incredible.
Looking at the journal now, it appears I only kept it up until April. I’m not sure why I stopped. I was keeping a lot of journals at the time, trying to sort out a bunch of things, and maybe the thought of one more journal was simply too much to bear. It was, in the end, a New Year’s Reading Resolution that didn’t stick. I wonder if I’d have had different luck if blogging platforms like Tumblr or social networking sites like Goodreads had been around at the time. My reading journal felt different than a Goodreads account for the simple reason that it was private. I never expected or wanted anyone but myself to read it.
The reading journal seemed like a good idea, a worthwhile way to spend some time. A good book is enhanced by thinking about it after the fact, and what better way to do that than with a journal. But I don’t think I’ll be keeping one this year. I already blog enough about what I read.
But I ask you here, good reader, what is your New Year’s reading resolution? Do you want to read more old books? More new ones? More books by women or by men (or a healthy balance of both sexes)? Maybe you want to keep a list of what you read for the first time (I do that every year). Let us know what you aim to do this year, and we’ll help you stick to it.
Here’s mine: I’d like to read at least two books published before 1900. I tend to read exclusively contemporary stuff (partially for work reasons, but also because it’s where my taste lies), and I’d like to broaden my mind for 2010. I set the bar pretty low at 2, but I figure they’ll be long and difficult. War and Peace, maybe. Or Moby Dick. I don’t know. We’ll have to see.