Things that Make Me Happy: My Reading Journal

April 29, 2008

My stepmother Christie gave me a blank handmade leather-bound journal sometime in early 2001, or perhaps somewhat earlier–I can’t quite pin down the occasion. Since September, 2001, I have used it as a reading journal. Sometimes all it is is a list of books I read. Sometimes it’s much more.

It meets several long-lived journal requirements:

  • Its binding is perfect. Hand-sewn, with six signatures and a soft leather cover–smooth and lustrous on the inside, nappy and sueded on the outside. The soft corners pick up all the impact of suitcases and messenger bags. Thus it looks as good as new. It has enough “structure” that I can write on it, often, without a hard surface underneath, but a satisfying amount of give. It is made for travel, as all journals should be.
  • Its hand-made nature is appealing. Its unlined nature is appealing. Its artistic suggestiveness is appealing.
  • It has a nice, soft weight, but also a petite nature that is lovable.
  • The leather thong is actually functional.
  • The thing is, here, when I first got this journal it was just another one of the billions of blank journals that my friends and family gave me. But for whatever combination of happenings, it became “the journal.”

Several recent pages in my journal.

I don’t use this journal as a place to bitch about my miseries, for the most part, it’s more along the lines of lists of the nine principal muses and quotes from Shakespeare and observations about basalt and Ponderosa pine, but I have blurred a couple of sections on these pages that refer to other people.

This book was made by Karen SarĂ³ Troeger of Touch the Sky books (warning: slow and slightly kloogy site). The new “line” of leather journals is quite different, but probably something I will look at once I fill this one.

What makes me think of this now? A couple of weeks ago, my grandmother lamented that she would “give anything” to have “kept a journal.” This spurred me. I’m now trying to include a few sentences a day to gloss what I am up to. I think it will be relevant in posterity. Do you record your thoughts, occurrences? And, if you do, do you use a manual method or a digital one? I’m pretty consistent about sketching down things I’m learning, but the life-recording is tricky.

One Comment

  1. autumn says:

    i’ve kept a journal of some sort since i was about 12. and if not for an angry former spouse, i’d have them all.

    about 4 years ago i switched from a book-type diary thingy with lined pages to a spiral bound sketch book style. though very little sketching goes on, i like to include newspaper clippings, pressed flowers, love notes, photos, matchbook covers, ticket stubs, and the occasional tarot card with my musings. having the spiral binding becomes important when these inclusions bulge the book beyond its original thickness. moreover i like to use fine felt tipped pens which tend to bleed through anything less than artstock paper.

    i find these geegaws add texture (and occasionally aroma) to my memories. i find the journaling process more engaging, so tend to do it more faithfully. it becomes a journal-cum-scrapbook as much as anything else, but i take a tremendous amount of pleasure both in crafting these relics and then poking through them again once i’m finished.