Did you ever keep a journal or diary in high school? I didn’t. I did try a few times, but never stuck with it. I wish I had. To be able to look back on old memories, written down by you in word – I find it pretty surreal. There are still ways to relive “the old-days”. I still have an assortment of photos, random items, and notebooks from high school and college. Each of these representing a different period and place of my life. And when I hold and see these things, I can relieve those moments in my life. Recall those memories, feelings, and sometimes exact thoughts.
Do you ever notice how different it is when you find an old paper you wrote though?
Part of me still wants to, and says there’s no reason not to, but the other part there says there’s no reason to start – I already have my book reviews to look back on.
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I don’t know how other reviews read and then post their reviews, but here’s my routine: After I finished reading, I will make a brief outline for a review, and – depending if it’s morning or night – I will write my review that same night or the next morning. I prefer this method. It keeps my thoughts and reactions to the book still fresh and raw in mind. Then on either the Sunday or Monday before I post my review, I will do my proof reading and editing. However, because I only publish one review a week – regardless of how many I read – I have built up quite a back log of reviews to be posted. Meaning, that when I proof read my reviews, some of them may have been from a book I read 2 or 3 months ago.
My reviews don’t exactly follow a strict set of guidelines, except I try to write how the book made me feel. What it was exactly – characters or setting – that gave me the greatest reaction – good or bad. When I reread my reviews, it is just like I am reliving my old memories and feelings. It is just like reading an old journal.
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Going through an edit or even reading older posts, I can almost remember the exact location I was when I was reading or finished the book. Sometimes I can even remember the exact month too.
When I read my Emperor of Thorns review, what always sticks out is remembering how Jorg was stuck sitting inside a carriage with Katherine and Miana. When I first started reading Emperor, I was stuck waiting in the doctor’s office for 3 hours. There for a different injury, but at the time, I suffering was extreme lower back pain, and could not sit down or even stand up for short periods of time. When I got to that passage with Jorg, I laughed. Realizing things could be a lot worse than sitting where I was.
The whole Knight Angel Trilogy, I read when I was deep in contest-prep for one of my last shows. I was starving then. Food constantly on my mind. TV stuck on Food Network. But I would lay down on the couch, and just get lost in the books for hours at time. With Brent’s story, and building up these deep connections to the characters – I completely forgot about my hunger. I read that review now, and I know why those characters felt so real, to me.
These reviews are like me reliving memories with my old friends. Or feeling the rush of adrenaline and anxiety that surged through me when I first talked my crush. How great those times were. All those adventures. Cherishing all those moments.
My review of The Blade Itself will always remind me of Ardee. How when the first time we meet her, just like Jezel, I was speechles, in shock, and instantly in love. (Put her, Asha, and Vi together – and you get my dream girl.)
Or how in Nyphron Rising, I comment on the friendship of Royce and Hadrian – how genuine they felt. Reading that or – for that matter – any of my reviews from the series, brings me back to those days. Going on all those adventures, racing around Elan, and getting into trouble. It was Rirya doing all that – but I was with them too.
There are also the moments where I look back at my earlier entries. Pure embarrassment. What I was thinking, how I wrote, and how little I wrote.
I look back at my first review (which I hesitate to link), that was for Lock In, and I can’t help but think, “why would I post that?” Then I see my second review for Dog On It, and think, “that’s all I had to say?” Both of these I cringe at the writing, and remember the struggle it took actually sit down to write them.
Yet – I are immensely proud of them. For that the fact that I did them, and they were my start.
I do not believe those two or any of my earlier reviews are particularly good, and at times I have wanted to delete them. But to delete them would be to delete part of me. To delete where I came from – delete my past. I cannot delete the past – no matter how embarrassing – but I can use it look back on for mistakes made, and lessons learned. I can use it for motivation.
I can use the past to see how far I have come. How my thoughts have shifted to different aspects, how much my writing has (hopefully) improved. How now I no longer have to force myself to sit down and write, and actually need to make sure I do not write too much.
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While I am not writing about events that happened to me, or people who I have met, I am still talking about my life. These book that I read, it is the author’s world, their characters, and words, but once I commit and invest myself to them – those book – they become my books too. More than that, they become my escape. When I read books, they are my escape from reality – the present day. Then when I write reviews and read them later, I escape again, back to those stories and worlds. To relieve all those moments and memories.
One day I may start-up a journal. I fell it would worth while. But until then, while I still have to the time to read as much as I do now, I will stick to reviews.
What a wonderful way to look at book reviewing!
I have journals, but they aren’t the day to day I did this sort of journals. More like a scrap book of moments and words.
I takes a lot of time and effort to sit down and do the tradition journal entry at night – writing and reflecting upon the whole day. I like your method better. Sounds like it is a lot easier to maintain and in long run it will probably be more powerful to look back on. Rather than reading pages, you have brief snippets of all the important stuff.