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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Another Keeper

Immediately after leaving the full-time work world in 2010, I committed to the practice of keeping a book journal. For those of you who do the same - no matter how long you've been doing so - tell me: What have you learned about yourself, books in general, your reading tastes, or anything else, via your book journal?

One starting prompt I frequently use in my journals is "How did I come to this book?". Weeks back, while beginning an entry for William Boyd's Trio (2020) using that prompt, I recalled my book club's muted reaction to a Boyd spy thriller I'd read and enjoyed a great deal entitled Waiting for Sunrise (2012). 

And my journal entry for that earlier book brought back to me - full force - the intensity of my reaction to Brazzaville Beach (1990), my first exposure to Boyd, soon after I started my book journal practice. In that moment - before starting to write about Trio - I realized how my practice has enriched me in several ways. When a book knocks me out - as Brazzaville Beach did - and I take the time to capture why in my journal, that author gets more firmly rooted in my memory. I usually return, more than once, as I have with William Boyd. And, re-reading a rapturous entry - like the one I wrote about Brazzaville Beach - brings back that rapture. What a gift that is. 

Finally, later journal entries for books by the same author are often informed and frequently shaped by earlier ones. Put another way, writing about my reaction to a book deepens my discernment as a reader. For example, here's part of my entry for Trio: "Not quite as masterful as Brazzaville Beach or as suspenseful as Waiting for Sunrise but engaging and enjoyable end-to-end. William Boyd is a keeper." 

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