With a British period drama playing in the background, we sat around the table, working on them. Lists, challenges, plans… one by one we each added the elements to ours that would benefit us most. For me, it was a deep desire finally realized—a book journal. Finally, I had a place to write down all I’d read, what I thought of it, what I hoped to read, recommendations from friends, where I was in series… all the stuffness.
I’ve purchased book journals in the past. I love them. In fact, last year around this time, I recommended a beautiful one from The Mosaic Collection, All Booked Up. I still recommend it for those who are fond of dated journals.
But that’s my problem. It’s actually my problem with planners in general. Dated things mess me up because when I get into crunch mode, I shove everything aside for a few weeks and just work like mad. And they get neglected. So a whole month can go by with nothing from me. Look I’m not proud of it, but it’s what it is.
Why Journaling about the Books You Read May Be a Great Idea!
What is a book journal? How would you use one? Why would anyone want something like a “book journal” anyway?
Here’s the thing. I think everyone would have different answers to those questions. From, “A record of your reading, you write it down, and because you like it” to “a way to waste your time, to fill an otherwise empty bookshelf, and no clue,” you can just imagine the answers. Personally, I see a book journal as a creative “brain dump” of all the bookish stuff I take in. I can get it all out on the page to clear space in my head for more books. It’s also a way to remember what I have, what I’ve wanted to buy, books others have recommended to me, and the like.
Why I’d want it is a bit more complicated. See, I read a lot. Sometimes people ask what I thought of a book, and considering I read five that week, with all the writing I’m doing and all the talking about other books on my podcast, and well… life… Let’s just say things get jumbled. I’m usually pretty good at remembering a basic plot and if I liked it or not, but I can’t always remember why. A book journal will help with that. But there’s more to it than that. The kinds of journals I’ve been seeing (and creating now) offer a bit of a creative outlet while doing something practical, too. Additionally, it offers a record of reads. Most planners and things like that, I don’t keep. I don’t have room for it. But seriously, would I love to have a journal of all the books my father read? My grandmother? My mother? Definitely. A reading journal is one of the few journal types that I think I’d actually save. If none of my kids or grandkids cared about it, they’d be welcome to chuck it, but if they’re anything like me, they’d want to glance through it first.
Finally, it’s a way for me to challenge myself. Look, I buy lots of books. I have even more I want to read. Without some plan of attack, I can get overwhelmed with what I have and just ignore them for the next shiny thing that comes into the house. A reading journal is one place to keep a list of all those books I planned to read and then forget about. In this respect, I’m most excited to have those lists for series. I listen to long lists of series on audiobook—mostly mysteries. Having a couple of pages in my journal that shows me what number I’m on is going to make life so much easier than me trying to find the last one I read to see if there’s a new one yet!
I found beautiful book journal flip throughs on YouTube a couple of months ago, and it stirred my own desire for one again. And again, I found myself stymied by monthly spreads and monthly goals and monthly… You get the picture.
This time, I found a solution, though. Skip the dated stuff. I don’t need a “best book of the month” or a “must read xyz books this month” thing. I don’t need it. What I need is a place to write down what I have read or what challenges I want to participate in, etc. I think a lot of people can use GoodReads for a lot of this, but here’s the deal. Some of us are paper people. Some of us need a creative outlet. And well, some of us like an excuse to find new books to read.
You know, I stopped working on my current WIP (work-in-progress) to write this article. My book, The Stars of New Cheltenham features a gal who is an avid reader. She just can’t remember very many quotes. I’m thinking I need to make a journal be a thing for her. She’s never done one before, but she’s going to now.
I’d better skedaddle and go put that in the book before I have to send it off to the editor. Happy reading… and happy journaling if you happen to get sucked into the swirling vortex of journals on YouTube!
I have shared characters from my books with you for the last few months, and I hope it has been a pleasant reading experience, but this time I feel like it is time to share. That’s why readers read these articles anyway, right?
Over the course of the last six months, I’ve had my eyes opened a great deal to the world of mental health and how to better care for the mind in a more conscious way (And how it leads to books for me). See, I live with people who are hyper anxious, are stressed in crowds greater than forty, three of us have PTSD, and I beginning to think all of us have various levels of ADHD or ADD. When any one of the five of us are out of sorts, we all get a little nuts – no pun intended.(Even my red nose pitbull is a little, um, crazy.)Because we live in a society that doesn’t know how to relax the mind and is in hyper drive almost twenty-four/seven, we have lost the art of “chill” and constantly stimulate the mind with movies, video games, and three minute TikToks.
So, this is why reading is important.
According to a Health Line article from 2019, reading a book “positively affects your life by strengthening your brain, building your vocabulary, prevents cognitive decline, reduces stress, alleviates depression, and lengthens the lifespan. Researchers have found that reading involves a complex network of circuits and signals in the brain… even days after marathon reading, (like some of us like to do) the brain connectivity increased in the part of the brain that responds to physical sensations like movement and pain”. In another study they found that “30 minutes of reading lowered your blood pressure, your heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as yoga and humor does.”
What more can I say besides, “a book a day keeps the doctor away”. Well, the mental health doctor that is.
I have seen this in action for myself in recent weeks. A member in my house suffers with severe anxiety and thoughts of self harm. As the nurturer of this house, this breaks my heart to watch and we have made several steps to get them the help they need, but recently they have begun reading more and I am noticing a change for the better. Now, I will still take them to see the right people to help them, but they are seeing how beneficial reading really is.
Of course, I think it would be terrible of me if I were to leave out there is no better reading material than the word of God. There is no better medicine than what can be found between the pages of this book. Oh no there isn’t a single moment I have not opened it and the words I’ve poured into my heart in soothed my weary soul several times in the last six months. So I encourage readers to not get so caught up in the fiction they forget to read their Bible first.
Let me encourage you to takes time this fall for some mental health time—Turn off the television, curl up on your couch or your favorite La-Z-Boy, sip a warm drink, and read a good book. Disconnect yourself from flashing images, negative attitudes, frantic shoppers, and just take a little “me time” with a favorite author. Your mind will thank you for it.
I went on vacation.
Bet you can’t guess where we went…
Ok. Maybe I won’t wait.
This is our favorite beach. Fernandina Beach, FL.
And what better place to get inspiration for my Independence Islands books than by visiting a quiet but not quite remote beach where everyone is friendly and the sunrises are epic.
I’m currently writing by fifth book in the beach series, and I worried at first that maybe I was getting tired of the beach location. Nope. One day out here and I’m ready to write a dozen more. Let me show you a few things we found.
This is the Book Loft. If there is a book store, I will find it, and this one is great! Look at this dress they have upstairs. I want to write a story about it.
Funny story. As I was checking out, I chatted with the owner (imagine that! Introvert me coming out of my shell to talk books with a bookstore owner, ha!). As I was talking, I turned and another book caught my eye. My youngest child, who is 13 years old and half a foot taller than me, steps between me and the book and with the most serious expression, says, “No. You have enough books.”
The audacity of this child. Oh wait. That sarcasm, yeah, that comes from me.
He immediately busts out laughing and moves back, even offering to get the book for me.
Needless to say, I left with 2 bags full of books.
Last year, we stopped by For Clinch. If you enjoy history, this is a great place to explore. And the drive through the park is gorgeous. Spanish moss everywhere.
This was our second year visiting Fernandina Beach, and every year that we go back, I’ll be going to the Book Loft. I found so much inspiration on this trip. From the Book Loft to sitting down with our kids every night to play board games or work on a puzzle. There is inspiration even in the mundane and a story waiting to be told everywhere you look.