Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Read, Remember, Recommend: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers by Rachelle Rogers Knight

Title: Read, Remember, Recommend: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers
Author: Rachelle Rogers Knight
ISBN: 9781402237188, Sourcebooks, 2010
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: C
Source: Sourcebooks

Billed as the ultimate organizing resource for book lovers, Read, Remember, Recommend gives readers one spiral-bound place to keep track of their reading. According to most of the people who've ever worked with me, "organized" is my middle name, so when a publicist for Sourcebooks asked me if I'd like a copy to read and review, I couldn't say no. (Most organized people seldom turn down opportunities to fine-tune their skills.)

When I received the book, the very first thing I did was get in my comfy chair with the book and a pen and start turning the pages. There are six tabbed sections in the book:
  1. Awards and Notable Lists
  2. To Read
  3. Journal Pages
  4. Recommendations
  5. Loaner Lists
  6. Resources
The largest section by far is Awards and Notable Lists. This section is invaluable for anyone who loves to read the winners of any major prize in the English-speaking world. I tend to avoid prize winners, yet I'm always interested to see how many of them have slipped through my radar. Each prize is listed by year, with 2010 and 2011 blank so this journal has room to grow. Author and book title are next followed by columns for Own, Recommend, To Read, and Want. I found those columns to be of the "glass half full" variety. There were several books that I read but didn't own and wouldn't recommend to anyone, yet there was no column for me to record any of that.

The second tabbed section, To Read, was much too slim for any sort of rabid reader: ten pages with space for six entries... or sixty books. My wish list at Paperback Swap has 200 books that I want to read, and my reminder list there holds over 300 additional entries. I don't think I've had as few as sixty books I've wanted to read since I was six.

The Journal Pages section could be very useful; however, I read well over 150 books in a year, so this section would be too small for me as well. If you're starting to get the distinct impression that I have reservations about this book, you would be correct. It would be perfectly fine for anyone who reads a dozen or so books per year, but for the dedicated, serious reader, it's just too small. A three-ring binder format would be much better, especially for sections like Journal Pages and To Read.

The Recommendations section would help me keep track of where I learned about certain books, but it, too, was small. I think it would be for many book bloggers.

The Loaner Lists section could come in handy for those who loan out their books. I don't, since I had someone borrow books that were near and dear to me and then subsequently lose them. If you have things like that happen to you and you're passionate about books, you soon learn not to loan them out.

The last section of the book, Resources, is a gold mine. There are URLs for all the book awards, a section listing URLs for book blogs (and almost all book bloggers are going to recognize many of those listed), bookstore blogs, social networking sites for readers, book exchange sites, and book clubs. Not sure of a literary term? Look it up in the glossary in back. Of all the sections in this book, Resources is of the most use to me.

I think Read, Remember, Recommend is an excellent resource for people who enjoy reading and would like a bit of guidance in order for them to read more. For anyone who is a dedicated, voracious reader, the book may be of some use, but several of the tabbed sections are just too small. I would also wonder if the format is the best for voracious readers and bloggers, among whom I count myself. So much of the tracking and recording of my personal reading is done on my computer. I really can't see myself picking up a book to do this when I have spreadsheets and other forms already at my fingertips.

Be that as it may, this idea is spreading. There is already an edition for teens, and editions are in the works for Mystery Lovers, Romance Lovers, Nonfiction Lovers and Kids. What interested me the most was this: "Watch for ebook versions of both journals--track your reading from your computer, iphone, or electronic reader." Now that really interests me!


  1. This is a great review! Very clear and straight-forward.
    I actually owned several 'book journals' before, just because I can never resist any book-ish related item. Unfortunately, they always fail me. Like you said, there's just not enough space! So I gave up on that and turned to the internet [goodreads, blogging, etc]
    I think though, this would be a great gift love to anyone who does enjoy reading, but are not exactly that much of a heavy reader. It can definitely be most helpful for them. I guess it depends entirely on who's going to be using it. For most of us book bloggers and other book worms, these journals are generally a miss.

  2. I'm a little compulsive in the organised stakes too so I've tried a few variations on book journals over the years but like the one in your review they've never really suited all my needs. Like Jillian above I now use a combination of electronic resources both on and off line and that suits me.

  3. I liked this journal a lot, but do agree that some of the sections are too small.

  4. For me it's a matter of time. Like everyone else, I have enough trouble making time to read, let alone sitting down with a journal to record awards, wish lists, etc. I too have learned never to loan out a book unless I don't ever care to see it again. If I have a few minutes available, I use it to read and/or review.

  5. I like the concept, but the only way I've ever been successful at keeping track of my reading has been online, so I'll hold out for the e-book version. Nice to know that's on the way!

    In any case, I'm inclined to agree that this might work better for someone who likes to read, but is not obsessed enough to have a books blog :-).

  6. Well it's a good thing I didn't get this to review. It would be too small for me and I don't care too much about award winnings. I might like the nonfiction one better although if it's still to small. I want to know more about the e version when it comes out for sure.

  7. Thanks for the personal perspective - which I think probably fits many of your readers. I do most of the things this book offers already online at Goodreads. I think their movement to an online platform would be genius because the tools and organization here are great. A teen or kids version for people who don't have time to read as much, but like to, and have to fight to share online time sounds like a terrific gift however.

  8. I'm glad to read your opinion on this journal. I wondered how it would fit in with the life of an avid reader like you. I feel like my blog is an excellent journal for my own use but I will definitely take a look at the e version when it comes out.

  9. I like this review a lot. I'm having reservations about this journal as well. But I have a whole other purpose for this book!

  10. Hummm -- Since I keep records online, in Word, and in Excel, I wonder about the usefulness of also recording on paper. I am always attracted to these kinds of journals, and then fail to keep them up -- even if they had a thousand pages.

  11. Jillian-- I know that if I were giving this book as a gift, I would pay very close attention to the recipient's reading habits. :)

    Bernadette-- Yes, I use a combination of electronic sources, but it would be nice if ONE electronic source could do it all.

    Kathy-- If you don't read all that much, it would be fine, but most of the readers I know would find it too small.

    Barbara-- Yes, I don't want something that's going to take away time from reading or spending time with Denis.

    Florinda-- Book bloggers... obsessed? Naaaaaaaaaaaah! ;)

    Callista-- I think most of us "rabid readers" are going to be more interested in the e-version.

    Molly-- I definitely think the online platform would be a wonderful thing.

    Margot-- Yes, I think for most book bloggers, their blogs are one of the main stops in their journaling process.

    Serena-- Now I'm all curious about your "whole other purpose"!

    Beth-- I have the same problem. It wouldn't matter how many pages they contained, I'd have trouble maintaining one. Online just makes so much more sense.

  12. I feel the same way you do about the size of the sections, and I don't read too many prize winners, but I had fun looking to see which ones are on my shelves.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  13. I have the older version of this journal and have loved it! I am a voracious reader, but haven't written in the journal about every book - for some I have just noted in the first part of the journal section the date and title. In my opinion, not every book warrants too many comments.
    I just ordered the new version today and am so excited to get it.
    I can't believe the price on Amazon - not much to spend every couple of years for such a wonderful resource!
    I think my hard to shop for mother-in-law is getting one for Mother's Day too! :)

  14. Anna-- So did I! :)

    Sandra-- They sound perfect for you, and I'm glad! :)


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