A suggestion. And a strong one, at that.
Hey you! Yeah, you. The one staring at the monitor.
Mind if I give you some advice?
It is simply this:
Keep a reader's journal.
You thought I was going to advise changing your underwear daily or taking vitamin C supplements, huh? I'll leave the tidbits of common sense living to your mother; I want to address this void in your life that you probably didn't know you have. After all, I myself hadn't even heard of such a thing until March 6, 2004. Oh, I'd been keeping track of books I'd read ever since I was 12 or so...but it wasn't until that blustery day in Virginia Beach that I saw an actual hard-cover book entitled The Reader's Journal. It had a little nick on the cover and had thus been relegated to the clearance table--which is the only place to shop in bookstores, if you ask me. (Henry Ward Beecher once exclaimed, "Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore!" But I wonder if even Hank himself wouldn't find today's book prices a bit steep.)
I am sure there are many different versions of reader's journals out there and I just didn't know it. I'm glad this area of ignorance didn't last any longer than age 21.
Let me tell you about my reader's journal, which quickly became one of my most beloved books itself. It is divided into 11 sections, each cleverly titled with a famous work of literature which describes the purpose of that section.
One section I use often is Great Expectations. It is there that I record books I would like to read. I'm always on the lookout for good reads and when I hear of one I add it to my list of great expectations. Then I take my reader's journal with me whenever I visit the library. Gone are the days of aimless wandering amid bookshelves thinking, "I wish I could remember that one author's name who wrote that one book I heard about!"
Another section (Sense and Sensibility) is for detailed records of the books I have read and my thoughts about them. Thus, with the flip of a page, I can find what I was reading in October, 2006: Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag ("Great character development and interesting storytelling techniques. Reminded me of Willa Cather's work--the land, Dakota territory, was such a big part of the plot. Made me long for the prairies...") My dad, for example, never watches a movie or reads a book twice. But I return to favorite books over and over again and its always like a reunion with an old friend. With my reader's journal, I have a record of my dearest book-friends.
Then there's Kidnapped, for recording lists of the books I have borrowed or lent. (If you borrow a book from me and don't return it: beware!) And there are other sections for recording addresses of bookstores or libraries, memorable quotations from favorite books, lists of books I have given or received as gifts, and those I have added to my every-growing personal library.
The great Francis Bacon wrote, "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some to be chewed and digested." Keeping a reader's journal, I believe, helps one be aware of every bite and savor the best.