It can be easy to forget everything you read. Keep track of your reading activities and thoughts about what you read by keeping a reading log. A reading log is a lot like a journal, except that it describes every book or article you read. Sometimes this is part of a formal school assignment, and sometimes it is something that you will want to take personally. In either case, a reading log will help you think in a more sophisticated and nuanced way about your reading.
Method 1 of 2: Keeping a Record for School
Step 1. Review the assignment
If you are creating a reading log for school, be clear about expectations for homework. Depending on the class and the teacher, you could include different types of information in the log. Read the assignment sheet carefully and ask your teacher about it if you have any questions. Here are some items that you may need to include in the registry:
- the title and author of the book
- the dates you have read each page
- the time you have spent reading each day
- the main themes of the book
- the most important characters and plot developments
- questions you have as you read
Step 2. Create a reading log template with appropriate categories
You can create the reading log in a school notebook or on a computer document. Create a template that has spaces to write all the necessary categories that you need to address in the registry.
You will also find some predesigned templates on the internet. Just search for "reading log template" in your favorite search engine
Step 3. Save the registry safely
Be careful when saving the record, especially if you have to submit it for grading. Keep it in a safe place where drinks cannot be spilled on it. If it is electronic, save your work and create a backup in an external memory or the cloud.
Step 4. Read the texts assigned to you
If you have to create a reading log for your school, you have likely been assigned specific materials to include in it. Sometimes you may have some flexibility on the assignment, like one where you have to read 5 novels in a semester. Other times you might have a specific assignment, like reading 20 Emily Dickinson poems in a given week. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the task. Remember that keeping a reading log will take a little longer than just reading a book.
Step 5. Record all the bibliographic citation information
Most reading log tasks will require you to keep careful citation. This will allow you to cite the sources appropriately and pick up the texts at a later time. You should write down the following:
- title of the book
- Author's name
- publication date
- the publisher and the city in which it is located
- any other identifying information (such as the edition used, the names of the translators or co-authors, etc.)
Step 6. Enter all your reading assignments
You can include books, poems, academic readings, and other materials (even movies or TV shows), depending on the parameters of the assignment.
Never put off recording a reading assignment for another time! You could lose track of work and forget important details
Step 7. Read slowly but carefully
Don't try to rush through reading assignments - take your time and think carefully when you read. Pay attention to important details as you read so that you don't have to reread certain parts. This will save you time in the long run if you are looking to retain information as you read.
Take some notes as you read, especially if you have questions. Jotting down the main topic of an excerpt or a question about a chapter as you read will help you fill in the information in the record later
Step 8. Write down important factual details from the book
Many reading logs will ask you to record practical information in a text. These are fully factual details and do not require additional interpretation or analysis. These include the following:
- plot elements
- names of the characters
- key argument (if the text is nonfiction or academic)
Step 9. Copy important statements
Most reading logs will ask you to identify quotes and excerpts that are important to you or warrant further analysis. Look for quotes that you find intriguing, mysterious, confusing, or complex. These citations could be used as evidence for analytical trials at a later time.
Remember to write down the page number whenever you copy an excerpt
Step 10. Write down the questions
Whenever you think of a question as you read, you should write it down in your reading log. They can be abstract questions (such as "Why is it important for characters to speak using riddles?") Or content-based (such as "Who is the mysterious man in a cape?"). These questions can be used in future entries in the registry.
Step 11. Record personal observations
Think about the connections between the book and your life. Is there anything in the book that reminds you of your own thoughts, feelings, or activities? Is there anything in particular that you love or hate? Reflect on your feelings (not just your thoughts) as you write in the log.
Step 12. Use the observations to make analytical statements
Some teachers might ask you to start developing analytical statements as you read. You can use your personal reading log as a tool to guide other formal tasks, such as reports, answer essays, or annotated excerpts. Determine how the excerpts relate to each other, and consider the historical or social significance of the work you read. Begins to develop hypotheses about the way the text operates and why it is important.
Step 13. Determine how reading relates to other academic work
If you are in a literature class, determine how the texts in the assignment relate to each other. If you are going to keep a reading log on scientific journals, look for patterns that can help you organize the texts into categories. How would you classify each of the texts you read? Are there texts that support or show disagreement with each other? Do the texts help you think about other classes or assignments differently? Record these observations in the reading log.
Step 14. Write an entry for a formal record
Some registries may require you to write formal entries. Instead of just listing bullet lists or jotting down excerpts, you should write an entry with full sentences and paragraphs. Ideally, the entry explores a single topic with a certain level of depth. This will allow you to develop connections between the excerpts and make a short argument about the importance of the text.
An excellent first step in writing a formal registry entry is to collect 3 or more excerpts that explore a common theme, such as justice, love, or despair. Use the registry entry to explore how this common topic is addressed in these excerpts
Step 15. Act like a teacher
You will develop your reading, writing and analysis skills as you continue to keep track of your reading. Over time, you should consider yourself an expert on the books you read. Adopt the mindset of a teacher when writing to the log and use the entries as a way to “teach” a text to others. Instead of just asking questions, start formulating answers to your questions.
Step 16. Focus on your long-term development
Not only do you see the reading log as a way to keep track of what you read, but also as a way to monitor your improvement over time. Ideally, you should gradually start writing richer questions, comments, and log entries over the course of the semester. Try to be a little more sophisticated with each entry you make in the registry. Write fewer content questions (eg, about what happened in the story) and more interpretation questions (such as Why is the book important?).
Method 2 of 2: Keep a Personal Record
Step 1. Buy a nice journal
To stay motivated, buy an attractive white page journal that you can easily write in. Many office supply stores and bookstores have newspapers for sale. Depending on your preference, you can buy a striped one or one without lines. You can also buy one with a simple cover (like a black leather one) or a more ornate and extravagant one.
If you plan to journal for a long time, buy one that has permanent paper on it. This will prevent the leaves from yellowing and degrading over time
Step 2. Keep the log near your favorite reading spot
Encourage yourself to continue using your reading log by keeping it in a safe place near your favorite reading spot. This could be next to your bed, on the table where you have coffee, or on a side table next to your favorite reading chair. This should be within your reach and you should always keep it in the same place; otherwise, you could lose or forget about it.
It is also a good idea to have a pen in the same place
Step 3. Read actively and widely
For a reading log to be worthwhile, you will have to spend some time reading. Discover new ideas, authors and concepts by reading a wide variety of materials of many styles and genres. This will keep the record interesting. To encourage yourself to read more, you should do the following:
- Read every day, even if you only do it for a few minutes.
- Turn off the television and read.
- Stop reading the books you don't like. Don't consider reading a chore.
- Have your friends and family recommend great books.
- Join a reading group at your local school or library.
Step 4. Read slowly but carefully
You may be tempted to read books at a fast pace, especially when they are exciting. However, this can impair your ability to think about what you read and may even increase the likelihood that you will forget that you have read it. Read slower and take your time with the books you like. Enjoy the phrases, re-read your favorite excerpts, and take a few minutes to consider the meaning of what you read.
Step 5. Write down the bibliographic information of everything you read
Be disciplined when you write down the important information in every book, poem, or essay you read. Write down the name of the author, the title of the text, the year of publication and the name of the publisher. This will help you find the book later if you want to read it again. This will also help you make recommendations to your friends and begin to understand your favorite books and authors.
Don't skip this part assuming you will remember the title and author of the book. People forget even these details over time, so they are the most important data to write down
Step 6. Include the dates of the days you read
The log will serve as a journal, so write down the dates of the days you read. Consider how what happens in your life could affect your reactions and thoughts around the book you read. Your future self will be grateful to you for taking the time to write these dates.
Step 7. Write down the page numbers that contain your favorite excerpts
Write down the page numbers that contain your favorite excerpts, especially if the book is yours. You will be able to retake these excellent quotes if you have this information written down. If you prefer, you could even copy your favorite excerpts to the registry, but this can take more time than jotting down the pages.
Step 8. Take notes as you read
Reading is a difficult task, and your thoughts will be constantly changing as you read. You won't be able to write down every thought you have, but you should try to keep track of the most important observations so that you can remember them. Each reader will want to write different things, but you can use the following guiding questions to decide what to include in the record:
- What are your favorite characters and the ones you like the least? Why?
- Has your opinion of any of the characters changed?
- What do you find fascinating about the plot? Are there mysteries to be solved?
- Do you like the author's style? Is there a distinctive element in your style that makes it stand out?
- What would you have changed about the book if you were the author?
- Does the book help you understand something about your world, another country, or history?
- How does it remind you of what is happening in your life? What are your personal reactions to the book?
Step 9. Reflect on the book once you finish reading it
Your thoughts about a book could change drastically during the process of reading it. After you finish reading it, spend some time reflecting on its meaning and importance. Determine what are your favorite and least favorite aspects of the text. What has surprised you? How have your thoughts changed between the beginning of the book and the end? Write for 10-15 minutes after finishing the last page to preserve these reflections.
Step 10. Reread your personal reading log
A reading log is most effective when you can reread your observations and reactions. Check your log every year. Do you see a common pattern or theme in your reading? Has reading helped you assimilate the events of your life? Reading the log will help you understand how your tastes and your own life have grown and changed.
- Don't get too focused on writing perfect prose. The reading log should be a type of draft in which the most important thing is to write down your observations. You can fix them later.
- Remember that a reading log can help you become a better reader, writer, and thinker. However, this only works if you keep a consistent record. Don't slow down or repeat to yourself that you'll write down your thoughts later - write them down as you read.
- This might help you read, but it may not work for everyone. If you find that your reading log is discouraging you from reading, you could give up this practice.
- Have backup copies of the registry, especially if you are going to keep it on a computer. You don't want to lose your job if the computer crashes.