Reading Journal 2023

Earlier this year, I wrote about Reading Journals. I LOVE reading journals. I’ve been keeping them since spring 2019, when I started working toward my master’s degree in UC Riverside’s Palm Desert Low-Residency program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts. (Hard recommend—it changed my life.)

All through school, I’ve been a Heavy Highlighter. Everything I read feels significant to me. I highlighted my books so much that it would have been easier to highlight what I didn’t find important or useful. So when I started my reading at UCRPD, I decided to try something different—I started keeping reading journals in these inexpensive but wonderfully soft Greenroom notebooks I bought at Target. Instead of highlighting, I wrote things down in my notebook: significant ideas, quotes I loved or that supported a theory I was working out, my own thoughts as I read the book. It worked beautifully—when I was highlighting, anything and everything was fair game, but when I had to actually stop and write things down in my notebook, I became more discerning. It made me stop and consider more carefully what was important. And when it came time to write a paper, it practically wrote itself because I had it all written down in my notebook. With page references! It also kept my books pristine for the next reader should I decide to loan or donate them.

In January, after I graduated from my MFA, I decided to continue to keep a reading journal. I celebrated being freed to read books of my own choosing by purchasing a gorgeous hardbound reading journal to track my 2022 year in books. The grounds for this celebration was a bit unfair to my MFA program because I was allowed to mostly read books of my own choosing during my MFA anyway. Still, it seemed like a good way to celebrate my newfound freedom from school, buying that beautiful reading journal and beginning my post-MFA life as a writer and reader.

My super fancy 2022 reading journal.


Only guess what? 2022 is drawing to a close, and my fancy reading journal is empty. It’s not that I didn’t read books this year. I read a great many books. But I found I love my inexpensive little Target notebooks, and because I tend to buy things I love in bulk and in a run of colors, I had a few of them still lying around, waiting to be written in. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the elegant hardcover journal I bought because, although I do journal most mornings, I have a preferred inexpensive softcover journal for that activity, too (Peter Pauper Press Artisan Journals). In a run of colors (Filigree, Wildflower, and Cherry). My sister friend Gina gave me the lavender one as a travel journal a few years ago, and I’ve been in love with them ever since.

My preferred and beloved cheap
softcover journals from Target.


Of course, as luck would have it, now that I’ve grown attached to my journals, both brands have been discontinued, but luckily I live in the age of eBay. So far, I’ve been able to stock up on my favorite reading journals and journal journals that way, but they’re not quite as inexpensive.