Book journaling is a useful practice for people looking for a process that melds reading and journaling into a means that creates balance and promotes self-care. When people apply contemplative activities into their daily routines, the effects can expand into many areas of life, including emotional and mental well-being.
People who read routinely know that reading has a therapeutic effect in itself. When we read fiction, we escape the doldrums or anxiety of our own lives. When we read nonfiction, we gain knowledge and expertise. When we read current events, we are better informed and better prepared to make decisions that have a positive effect on us and those around us.
What is less well known is that coupling reading with a reflective journaling practice can magnify the positive effects of reading significantly. When we read then write about not just the reading but how the reading affects us, what it makes us think about, and what solutions it poses, we begin book journaling.
How to Quick Start Your Book Journaling Practice
The process of reading the reflecting on that reading and writing about its effects allows for a more in-depth reading experience. It gives readers room to make connections between reading and their own challenges and struggles, and it supports readers in making connections between pieces of writing.
What Book Should Begin a Book Journal?
We are all drawn to different books at different times. One day we pick up a science fiction novel and the next we are onto a biography; both books are relevant to our growth as readers and any genre can aid in our search for calm during unsettling times.
The following list of books include a few ideas that might appeal as a first choice. If you are wondering “What should I read?” then this list may contain your next book.
Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
A novella of a seagull who learns about life and becoming his true self by pushing the boundaries of flight.
The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
A nonfiction guide to making choices, improving relationships, and standing up to fear during times of personal struggle.
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The quest for a better life and the promise to connect with family, this story celebrates coming of age, family, and culture.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A historical fiction classic about two sisters who are better than their social situations; all ends well for Elizabeth and Jane when they marry for love.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A dystopian science fiction masterwork of a world where the firemen start fires to burn the books to keep people from reading and how those who read seek to save society by bringing back the books.
The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV
By the man who has smiled through loss of country, exile, war, and upheaval, the Dalai Lama delights with his prescription for finding and maintaining a happier countenance.
Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
A funny, poignant, and truthful series of essays on the struggles of being not cute enough, not tall enough, not right enough; all the while being witty, insightful, and refreshing in her own voice.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s poetic autobiography of life at the receiving end of racism, sexism, and violence who grows into one of the country’s most acclaimed and loved writers.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Considered by many to be Papa’s best novel, Old Man is a tale of struggle and determination and certainty.
Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins
Really any book of poetry by Billy Collins will do. His poetry is hilarious, irreverent, and always amusing.
Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin’s compilation of science fiction fragments replete with commentary of modern life.
House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
The poignant, sweet tale of a Native American man who returns a broken shell to his tribe but eventually becomes the leader he was meant to be.
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
A well-respected Buddhist monk’s nonfiction instructional work on attaining mindfulness and increasing happiness on a daily level.
What are the rules of book journaling?
There are none. If you miss a day, only you will notice and be affected. If you choose to read more and write less or read less and write more, it is OK. The practice is yours to hone and shape into a routine that serves your best interests. The purpose of book journaling is to apply contemplative practices aligned that increase personal well-being by engaging deeply with reading and journaling. Give it a try for two weeks and see how it goes.
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