When David was younger … and had a lot more allergies … I did a lot of research into homeschooling. We might still homeschool in the future. It depends on where the military sends us and what the local schools are like.
But before I ramble on about homeschooling, let me get to the point.
While I was researching I found a book that caught my eye.
The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
The book includes lists of works to read in the major literary categories (novel, historical, memoir, poetry, & drama) and I bought it primarily as a guide for what to read. But Bauer spends the first fifty pages or so discussing how to read in a way that promotes critical thinking skills and retention.
One idea that struck a cord with me – writing in a commonplace book.
There’s my current one.
In it I write down the book I am reading, title and author. I’ll write down chapter titles, main characters, plot points, passages that I want to remember, and thoughts about the book. I’ve also been trying to make sure I write my own take on the book after I’m done reading it.
For years, especially since I became a mom, I’ve noticed that my reading retention skills suck. I’ll finish a book and the next day I can’t tell you the author, the names of the main characters or how it ended. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. This is stuff my brain should keep. But it hasn’t been.
However, since I started using my commonplace book in November of 2009 I’ve seen a big increase in my ability to recall key elements of a book.
Also, I love that I can refer to my commonplace book if I want to remember more about a book or reread a certain passage that I wrote down. This allows me to pass on a book after I’ve read it or borrow books from the library without feeling like once I give it back or give it away it’ll be like the book never existed (since I couldn’t remember what I had read anyway). So, it decreases my book expenses and my book storage. I borrow more books than I buy now that I know I’ll have what I want to know about the book at my fingertips after I give the book back. There are already three huge and three medium sized bookcases in this house, so any device that allows me to decrease the number of books I keep is helpful.
On a Rose-needs-to-continue-decreasing-her-unnecessary-guilt note, I use the Cross pen my dad bought me to encourage me to write more with my commonplace book. Since I do the majority of my writing on the computer, especially now that I’m writing on this blog, it’s nice to have a scholarly purpose for such a sentimental and costly present.
Disclosure: Using the Amazon.com link to purchase this book may result in a commission for me. However, the opinion expressed is my own and cannot be purchased.