Photo by Toa Heftiba
As a bibliotherapist, I often encourage my clients to ‘Book Journal’ — keeping a journal of all the books that you’ve read and the impact they’ve had on you. Journaling is one of the best ways to connect with ourselves, reflect on our emotions and thoughts and gain some clarity amidst the day-to-day stresses and strains of life. It brings a sense of calm and helps us make sense of our world and ourselves. Book journaling, in particular, is a profound way to connect with ourselves — through the characters we encounter, the imaginative experiences we immerse ourselves in and the emotions they bring up for us as we vicariously live the books we read.
“How do I start?”, a client asks. There are lots of ways to skin a cat and the same is true for book journaling — the process that I’ve found the most effective for my clients and myself personally is a three-step process:
1. Select Literature That You Truly Connect With
This could be something I’m currently reading or something that I’ve read in the past, that has really moved me. This could be a book that I've enjoyed listening to or a book that's thrown me into an obsessive phase - where I'm truly invested in finding out more about the subject, the author or the characters.
2. Highlight, Journal and Reflect
I then start to highlight passages that I loved. I jot these down and write down how they made me feel and possible reasons for why the text resonated with me. Once I do this, I might sleep on my thoughts and emotions and come back to them the next day or in a few days to see if I still feel the same way. If I do, then this might be something that I need to explore further — perhaps similar literature might be the answer. Or a conversation with a friend or family member about it might lead to more prompts. Alternatively discussing it in a therapy session (or a bibliotherapy session) might enable further insight.
If, however, I feel differently from my initial thoughts I ask myself what has changed. Have I reached a resolution? What does this tell me about myself? Have I learnt a lesson? Do I need to consider exploring a new avenue or do I move on from this?
Often consolidating your thoughts and feelings, brings a conclusion that is often forgotten in journaling practice. This is a significant part of the journaling process — it brings together themes, emotions, research and lessons learnt that have both consciously and unconsciously shaped you. It brings your story together and also illuminates your destination.
If you need more book journaling ideas or inspiration, you might find my book journaling guide “365 Book Journaling Ideas for Every Day of the Year" helpful. Designed to connect literature to the self, it will stir up your innermost thoughts, feelings and fears to bring clarity and resolution to the trials and tribulations of modern life. It might also lead to a more well-read life, helping you discover literature that you’ll love —helping curate reading lists for the self that will delight and surprise you at the same time. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers, bibliophiles and bibliophages.