I think that most of you guys have realized by now that I’m a pretty organized person. I have my reading schedule finalized months in advance (I have “rough drafts” for all the way up until January 2015!), I’m writing this post on March 21st (3 weeks before today’s date!), and I’m more than a little meticulous about my Goodreads shelves.
So it should come as no surprise that I’m pretty organized when it comes to book reviews, too — I pre-schedule the dates I’m posting ARC reviews way in advance and even set a calendar reminder for when I should start reading each book. But one of my favorite parts of book review organization is my note-taking process.
The first thing I do when I start reading a book that I want to take notes on (all ARCs and a few, select “personal” reads) is open up a post draft in WordPress — that’s where all of my note-taking will take place. I don’t like using a real notebook because it just takes way too long to write out notes by hand and it’s be a lot easier to edit/add to them later if they’re already in the draft of the soon-to-be final review post. If my laptop isn’t available while I’m reading and need to write something down, I’ll just use my smartphone to email those thoughts to myself and then add them to the draft later.
The types of things I’ll take notes on from a book are:
- My reactions to events in the book
- Feelings about pacing, writing style, etc. if a particularly bad or good example stands out
- Quotes that I love or hate
- Maybe some predictions of where I think the plot is going (if I’m right, it might be worth nothing that something was too predictable or unsurprising)
- Any other random thoughts/feelings
Later on, when I’m trying to write the review for real, it’s much easier with this information right in front of me.
A lot of times, it’s helpful to take notes on my feelings mid-book, because if a book’s ending blows me out of the water, it can be way too easy to hit that “5 stars” button if you’re not really remembering that, oh wait, I didn’t really like this, this, and this at the beginning of the book, so maybe it should really be more like 4 or 4.5 stars. So taking notes helps keep my ratings more accurate and objective, too.
The downside of taking notes while reading is that sometimes it’s hard to focus on getting caught up in a book if you’re being too analytical. But that only happens every once in a while for me, so I think that, in general, it’s a lot more helpful than harmful.
Do you take notes while reading? How do you do it? Do you find that writing reviews is easier when you have notes? Does note-taking “ruin” reading for you at all?