Jeff Abbott, whose Trust Me is sitting near the top of my stack of Books To Be Read, writes about a writer’s todo list (#22: move series bible from Word to Tinderbox ) and about starting a reader’s journal.
I’m thinking of starting a reading journal, where I list each book I read and a few thoughts about the book and the craftsmanship in it, maybe with a few quotes. I might keep this in a digital form (such as a Word document, or in Tinderbox) or I might just devote an entire notebook to it, maybe a page to each book. I could imagine recording what I particularly admired about the book, favorite lines, prompts to myself (look at how well Character A was developed, notice the structure used in the finale, that worked well. . ) and so on. I don’t think this would take much time to maintain and would pay big writerly dividends.
I’ve kept a sort of reading journal here for the past nine years. Here, for example, is my reading for 2010. I find this useful in a variety of ways, and I often turn to these notes to recall something I half remember. It should be useful, too, for planning one’s future reading and balancing competing needs and interests. But, instead of thinking things through, I find I still tend to flit aimlessly from title to title without much long-range thought or planning.