I have discovered a new issue since retiring. It is a good problem to have but is a bit surprising for me. I have more time or am taking more time to read. It’s great but I am speeding through several children’s books and a couple adult reads. I am also reading lots of blogs with book reviews. My head is literally swimming in plots, settings, characters and story problems. I love it!
The down side to this is the stories are inter-twining with each other. When I sit down to write a review or chat with a friend about a book I am not always completely sure who is in what story. A quick look through the book and I have the story again. I haven’t lost my mind completely. At least I don’t think I have. Not yet.
Here is what I am guessing is going on:
I am so use to reading and discussing books with students and friends. Now I do that with a few books but am reading so many more. It is the discussion that makes a book stick in my brain. The act of reflection on the plot and characters helps move my thinking from short term to long term memory. I have a feeling this is true for many of our students as well. If they just read but don’t take some kind of action on their thinking the books is appreciated and then forgotten.
Granted there are always a few books that strike deep in our hearts and we will always remember them. Then there are lots of books that are good reads but not emotional life changers, the beach book varieties – the books your read on a trip and leave behind for the next person in your hotel room or beach chair.
So how do I hold on to all these stories? How do those of us who are massive readers remember it all? I turned to another blogger who wrote on this subject awhile back. Doug is a freelance write who reads mainly non fiction for work – lot and lots of non fiction. So he is always seeking out ideas to help himself and others. He in turned looked at the habits of Maria Popova of Brain Pickings and Shane Parrish of Farnam Street to get ideas. (see his post here –Remember What you Read )
Each of these people take notes or writes short thoughts after reading. They both prefer to read print books which gives them space at the back of a book or end papers to write a few key ideas.
All of this took me back to my classroom and my students reading journals. All the work I did with students teaching them to write about their reading. In the classroom I did this so naturally, asking my students and modeling the process of writing at the end of a chapter or section. We wrote some days about our characters. Others we wrote questions we were wondering about. All this work was to help my students think about their books, their authors and the bigger questions. It really made a difference for them.
Duh, where is my readers journal? I have even fallen behind on my reading list. I have kept track of books I have read for years but have become lazy and not written down all the titles. I guess many of them are on my e-reader so I could always find them there but it is not the same.
It is time for me to get organized as a home reader. I am pulling my book list journal back out and filling in the books not recorded (oh, boy – there is an afternoons job!). I need to create a new readers journal for myself (yeah, I can go journal hunting!). I need a place where I record my thoughts about my reading, a place to hold and remember the larger questions and the little details of a story. It doesn’t have to be much just enough to refresh my over storied brain.
I need to do what I was teaching my students to do -Write About My Reading!
Do you write about your reading? What is your process for recalling all the thousands of books you have read?