#SOL2015 27/31 Writing about Reading

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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?

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in journals, Reading, Reflection, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to #SOL2015 27/31 Writing about Reading

  1. lynnjake says:

    For several years I have kept book lists on my blog. I just write the title, author and a sentence or so to help me remember what the book was about. I too am a voracious reader, and fast, so it’s easy to forget what I read. My book lists help me keep track.

    • Joanne Toft says:

      I have always had a book list but never added the sentence or two. It has always been a part of my teaching. Funny that I never moved it to my home reading. I like that you keep them on our blog.

  2. Interesting points. When I read a novel I talk about it with my husband but I don’t carry it further. However, all those stories help me write my own. Perhaps I need a new reading blog…. Thanks for reminding us of the need for sharing what we read.

  3. Morgan says:

    I love the line, “It is the discussion that makes a book stick in my brain.” As I sit down today to write a grant for our Teacher as Reader group, your post is speaking to me on so many levels. You’ve captured the idea that keeping a reading journal is real reader’s work and not just the work we assign in school. Thank you for the words I was having trouble finding myself.

  4. arjeha says:

    What a wonderful problem to have – having more time to read. It is a problem I also have. Now, with free and cheap books for my Kindle, I have a backlog of books to read.

  5. Leigh Anne says:

    I am finding that the older I get, the harder it is for me to remember what books are about. I talk about books with my students and there are times now where I have to look at the blurb or back cover to remember. I may need to start writing them down too.

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