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A Book Journal Is a Great Way to Improve Your Reading Skills

https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-keep-a-reading-log-or-book-journal-739793

thoughtco.com

A Book Journal Is a Great Way to Improve Your Reading Skills
A reading log or book journal is a great place to react to what you read. Certain questions should be considered when creating one.

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A reading log

A reading log

A reading log is a place to write down your reactions to what you're reading.

Doing this will allow you to gain insight into the theme and plot, will help you understand what you feel about the characters, and deepen your overall enjoyment.

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How to Keep a Reading Journal

Start by writing down your immediate reactions as you read through the book.

  • How do your impressions change halfway through the book?
  • How do you feel after finishing the book?
  • What emotions did the book evoke?
  • Are there connections between the book and your own experience?
  • Does the book similar in part to another book you've read?

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Characters in the Book

Write about the characters, considering these questions:

  • Which character do you like the most? Why?
  • Is there a character you dislike? Why?
  • Do you think that any of the characters represent real people?
  • Do any of the characters represent general personality types?
  • Is the author commenting on these types of people?

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Names Used in the Book

Consider the names in the book, using these questions:

  • If you were the author, would you have changed the name of a character or the location of a scene?
  • What does the name mean to you?
  • What would you name the character instead?
  • What would you use as a setting?

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Upon finishing the book

When you have more questions than answers, ask yourself:

  • What are these questions?
  • Would you like to direct your questions to a particular character?
  • Are they questions that you may be able to answer by reading more about the author's life and works?
  • What events or characters do you not understand?
  • Is there anything that the author could have done to clarify or answer any questions you were left with?

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Taking Notes

  • If and an idea from the book makes you stop and think, write it down and elaborate on it
  • Copy your favorite quotes and line into your journal. Explain why you wrote them down.
  • Write down what you learned from the book.
  • Would you recommend this book? Should anyone be discouraged from reading this book?
  • Would you like to read more books by this author? Why or why not? 
  • Write a summary or review of the book.

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Tips on keeping a book log

A book journal can work well for poetry, plays, and other literature.

Consider reading about the reading experiences of other great writers. You may even compare notes.

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Taking notes requires a balance

Taking notes requires a balance

It’s easier to take notes when we’re listening to content because our hands are free. But when reading a book, taking notes interrupts our reading flow.

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Consider why you want to take notes

Before you start taking notes, ask yourself what your goal is.

  • Paper versus digital. If your goal is to study the content of a book, paper is better. But if your goal is to be able to reference certain parts of the book easily, an ebook may be better suited.
  • Serendipity versus control. When you want to take notes to read them for pleasure afterwards, highlighting and marginalia could be more suited. But if rediscovery is your desire, a structured system, such as an index of the key ideas, may be better.
  • Learning versus creating. If you want to learn from a book, your notes will be factual, but if you're going to create your own content, your notes will be more original.

Capture key ideas without interrupting your reading flow

Taking notes should not become a tedious process, but it should be made as seamless as possible.

  • If you are reading a physical book, write down main ideas or questions in the margins. Try to keep it very short. If you are reading an ebook, highlight the essential parts and write a few words to add contextual information.
  • If your goal is to learn or reference your notes in the future, you may want to stop at the end of each chapter and collate the ideas separately from the text. This can be done on the inside cover of the book, or on a separate index card, where you rewrite the key ideas with the corresponding page numbers.