One’s reading life is very important, and any self-respecting reader would want to have some kind of record of the books they have read. When I got the “Book of Books” all the way from Australia, my excitement was palpable. The book is from Archley’s, a company founded by Jess Leondiou. Archley’s is dedicated to making the journaling process accessible to all. The Book of Books is a part of a varied product offering that seeks to promote journaling. An elegant clothbound hardcover journal, with a minimalistic design and the title simply printed in a metallic colour, this tome seemed perfect to chronicle my reading life. It seemed to do justice to the books that I love and cherish.
The Book of Books is by YOU for your future self. It is a record of all the books you’ve read and loved, or not loved. It holds the thoughts that came out from those reading experiences. It is the space where you write about how a book changed you and what you took out from it. It is as personal and customised as it can get! The Book of Books leads the reader to record and reflect on cherished books in a guided journal that will turn out to be a reading memoir of sorts.
Readers often find themselves moving from one book to the next, devouring them with an intensity that matches their passion for the written word. However, reading is also about reflecting on the books you have read. Do you take a pause to see how a book resonates with you? Do you introspect on your reading life?
Here is a book that gently guides you to look at what you have read from a different perspective- that of retaining what is important for you at a particular moment in your life. The journal is structured to encourage active reading. Firstly, there are only two sides, that is, one double spread space for entries related to one book. While this may seem like a restriction, the reason behind it is to push the reader to think critically and really distill what is relevant for him or her in a book, and then write down only that. The structure of the pages thus leads the reader to write about a book they have read in a more strategic manner.
There is space for the basics such as the name of the book, author, publication date and so on. Then, comes the element I believe is the most crucial. There is a small section to write down what is happening in the reader’s life at the time they have been reading that specific book. This is crucial since it places the book in a context. There is also a section for writing what about the book made them pick it up and choose to read it. And then, there is space for a short summary and some key insights from the book. The brevity of the design as well as its comprehensiveness is remarkable. The major part of the Book of Books contains the templates for recording the insights one has garnered from fifty books.
While sections for recording insights form the crux of this journal, there are several other important elements that deserve attention. The concise notes in the beginning that explain the philosophy of active reading and retaining content in memory are quite handy and helpful, especially for someone who is new to journaling about books. In a sense it sets the stage for getting the optimal benefit out of using this book. There is also a TBR section, spiced up with bookish quotes.
The Book of Books has come to me at a special time. It is a time when I’m being more mindful about reading. It seems to be just the perfect way to mark this transition.
Perhaps the impact that this journal has on the reader-writer is best described in the Book of Books itself – “What you choose to write about in each book is a window into your life at the time of reading. Whether you read for pleasure or productivity, your annotated bookshelf is a story in itself, and one that’s worth remembering”. I for one, eagerly await to write down my curated insights about the books I’ve loved and read, knowing quite well, that in a small or big way, I am also writing the story of my life.