“1. Little House in the Big Woods,” I laboriously printed with my six-year-old hand. After finishing my first “big-girl” book, my mom insisted I form the habit of writing down the title of each book I read. I wasn’t too thrilled. This book log idea sounded strangely familiar to the practice of writing thank you notes. As an early fan of saving the best activities for last, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to write after reaching the mountaintop of a book’s completion.
But due to my mother’s insistence, I persevered, soon adding the date of each book’s completion. Occasionally I enlisted a family member’s help, when the author’s name was too long to spell. Book #76 marked my graduation to cursive writing. The quickly devoured Sugar Creek Gang and Boxcar Children series rapidly filled the pages of my pink, sticker-bespeckled notebook. I proudly finished all twenty-eight Elsie Dinsmore books at the age of eight, averaging one book every two days.
The improvement of my handwriting increased in direct proportion to the depth of my reading material. Recorded at Book #494 and #503 respectively, Sense and Sensibility and A Tale of Two Cities launched my affection for classic literature. As a result, my love for long books, coupled with a busy life, has kept my book log stuck in the 500s for the last three years. But the satisfaction of finishing Ben-Hur and Les Miserables compensates for the slow pace.
Today I’m thankful that my mom encouraged her six-year-old to keep a book log. Otherwise, I would have surely forgotten that I waded through Little Women at the age of seven, and that during those golden years of childhood I completed books in a matter of days, not weeks. My book log is the journal of my imagination, the record of all the people I’ve met and places I’ve traveled in my head. As C. S. Lewis wrote:
“I was living almost entirely in my imagination; or at least the imaginative experience of those years now seems to me more important than anything else.” (Surprised by Joy, page 21)
The pages of my little pink notebook may not fill as rapidly in the years to come. But I’ll always treasure the memories it holds, reminding me of all the books I’ve read and all the books I aspire to read.
“I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.” (C.S. Lewis)
Why Keep a Book List by Susan Chrisman