My own Bob

After reading Pamela Paul’s My Life With Bob, I realised that I needed to do something about my lists of books. As I mentioned in my review, I’ve kept a list of the books I’ve read since 2002 – well, I wrote down a few in 2001 too, but I only started putting the date down properly in 2002. And I’ve always kept that list in the back of that year’s diary. (And, well, put the list into another notebook arranged alphabetically by author.)

But two places isn’t enough! Paul’s book convinced me that I needed to have them all in order, all in one place. I can’t go digging around the back of a cupboard for my old diaries when I want to see what I was reading ten years ago. Step forward this notebook, which my friend Lorna got me, with its lovely Tove Jansson illustrated cover.

 

Why yes, dear technophile, I could have made a spreadsheet on my computer. It would have been a lot easier to search it. But I know that this notebook can survive for many decades, whereas who knows whether or not computers will cope with Excel in 2035.

So… I spent quite a lot of evenings writing up my list. It’s a great way of making yourself feel like you have to watch some more television – or, rather, listen to it.

I picked this page at random, not just to show off that I’ve read Ulysses, promise. Apparently in 2005 I was reading a bunch of books for my undergraduate degree, and… The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor. An ‘x’ in the first column means that it was a reread.

And how many books have I read since the beginning of 2002? Well, accurate as of today, 1722 books. It did take up rather more of the notebook than I was expecting, but I can turn it upside down and reuse the other side, so I think this should see me through at least another twenty years.

17 thoughts on “My own Bob

  • January 15, 2018 at 9:58 pm
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    But if you’d had entered everything into a spreadsheet, you could have used the filters and so viewed it in all sorts of ways!!

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    • January 21, 2018 at 6:25 pm
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      This is exactly the comment I was going to make. Spreadsheets are incredible.

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  • January 15, 2018 at 10:34 pm
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    I am impressed by your record keeping. I have written down every book I read starting in 2011. My list is on paper like yours.

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  • January 16, 2018 at 1:34 am
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    I’ve kept a reading journal since 1997. (See https://anzlitlovers.com/2008/11/08/keeping-a-reading-journal/) It consists of thoughts, notes, ramblings, and pseudo reviews and the entries vary in length from 1/2 page to 20 pages or more. I leave the first 3-4 pages blank for an index (which looks rather like the one in your photo) and then at the end of the journal I transfer that, yes, to an Excel file, including the number of the journal because that way I can find anything, even if I can only remember one word of its title. (You could find this very useful as you get older, Simon!)
    These days I have my blog, and some books just get blogged rather than written up by hand, but I keep telling myself that this is not so good because I avoid spoilers in my reviews and sometimes after a year or so I can’t remember a plot point or resolution! From time to time I print out any blog reviews that aren’t journalled so that I still have a record of what I thought about the books, and that makes its way into the Excel file as well. (I don’t fully trust the digital world either, though I do realise that all this careful industry will be consigned to a rubbish dump when I die!)
    I use Goodreads to catalogue my books too, and find it useful for ‘shelving’ books on similar themes but it’s also useful for tracking back the books I read before I kept a journal. One of my friends will review a book, and then I remember that I read it too, and I can usually make a good guess about what year it was. So that’s nice too, but I do wish I’d kept a journal back then. How interesting it would be to see what my fourteen year old self thought about Pride and Prejudice and Anna Karenina!

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  • January 16, 2018 at 6:17 am
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    I, too, have bought a new notebook this year and re-ordered my “starts.”. On Goodreads I do like the graphs and the end-of-thee-year personal books page (rather a thrill). But I spend too much time online as is, and decided to add a few categories to my new book journal, which has always been Title, Author, & Date. I intended to write a litte paragraph after each, but that is too much. I write up some of what I read on the blog, and that has to do.

    I couldn’t figure out how Pamela Paul could keep Bob as just one notebook. Full confession: I only read 100 pages. But my book journals have cracked bindings, loose pages, and I could never have had on BOB. (Maybe she got a new one: I didn’t read to the end.)

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  • January 16, 2018 at 12:26 pm
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    So jealous! Not only of the notebook, but also of the fact you’ve been sensible enough to record your reading for years. I wish I’d done this, but I have partial reading diaries, ordinary diaries and journals and no proper record of reading pre-blog. Now I *do* keep a spreadsheet, but notebooks are much prettier (yes, I’m a stationery addict too….)

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  • January 16, 2018 at 7:33 pm
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    What a good idea. Until I started this blog I had never kept any kind of record so although I can say, yes I’ve read xyz, I couldnt tell you when or, where (which would be sometimes nice to know). Today I keep a list on the blog of reviews and a separate spreadsheet where I note the books I read each month. I much prefer your notebook idea though – somehow seeing it in a physical sense as handwriting rather than just as an electronic file makes it more meaningful

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  • January 16, 2018 at 7:53 pm
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    An excellent use for a beautiful notebook! I’ve been keeping reading journals for over ten years now and love being able to look back through them.

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  • January 17, 2018 at 8:43 am
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    I’ve been keeping reading journals for longer than I’ve been blogging, and I even bought a Special Box for them last year! I still haven’t transferred them all to the spreadsheet but plan to, as an index. I am very fussy about the books I get to write it in, they have to be A5 and I tend to use one book a year now as it’s easier to keep them in order. Happy BOBbing!

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  • January 17, 2018 at 8:58 am
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    I wish I’d started earlier. My full records start in 2008 with some sketchy ones from 2006 onwards. All on my trusty spreadsheet – which is my Bob equivalent. That is a lovely notebook, but I’m wedded to my spreadsheet – I couldn’t go back to a paper record now. As Liz says, Happy BOBbing though!

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  • January 17, 2018 at 2:45 pm
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    Another sceptic about the durability of the digital! I’ve kept written notes of my reading since I retired 11 years ago in a variety of notebooks. Spreadsheets have their uses but I don’t want to spend any more time in front of a computer screen than I absolutely have to.

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  • January 17, 2018 at 3:08 pm
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    Lorna chose well, Simon…such a beautiful gift. And I’m all for anything that makes people step away from computers for awhile.

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  • January 17, 2018 at 6:36 pm
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    That is a gorgeous book to have as a beginning. (And a fine excuse to listen to more shows.) What a great way to mark this new reading year. I do echo Liz and Lisa, about the value of e-records when it comes to the data ever accumulating and the need for search functions, as the number of reading years increases (memory being tricksy). I’ve gradually input my own notebooks (from 1990) and I refer to the data often and am gradually trying to clean it up so that it’s even more interesting in terms of the patterns and details it can track (comparatively). But I’m a bit of a geek that way, even though I am equally more obsessive about spending as little time as possible in front of a screen. Not everyone would find that fun or interesting, I’m sure!

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  • January 20, 2018 at 3:58 pm
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    Ulysses, really ? In 8 days ? All of it ?

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    • January 20, 2018 at 5:51 pm
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      Ah, I read lots of books at once so I didn’t start it the day I finished the previous one :)

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  • January 21, 2018 at 8:57 pm
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    I covet the Tove Jansson notebook! Since I started blogging I’ve begun recording my books read again, and I love it. For the last few years I’ve used desk calendars in which I record the book read on the date I finish it. I like the visual record this provides, though it does take up more space. I should take notes on each book but that is too much effort. I do occasionally record quotes I like.

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