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Dark Puss

Hmph! Why on earth do I need to be "guilt tripped" into doing anything that is (presumably) supposed to give me pleasure. If I am failing to read enough documents or technical books as demanded by my work then perhaps that's a helpful comment. I really do not care these days whether I have read one novel or one hundred novels any more than whether I have seen one fantastic work of art or thousands, what matters surely is what I got from it. Quite frankly I do not need additional sources of anxiety in my lfe! "Win the notepad's approval" indeed. Grrr


I don't think you've taken it in quite the spirit in which it was meant, DP!

Dark Puss

No? In what spirit is it supposed to be meant? Is it a spoof?


Well, let's see.
Firstly, Michael Deacon is a humorous writer. He pens the parliamentary sketch column and the restaurant reviews, and he does both wittily, and with a light touch, so that may give you some context.
Secondly, many people do lament the fact that they don't read (that is read books, for pleasure) as much as they'd like to. Whether that's down to the demands on them, their choosing to do other things with their free time, or simply an unintentional drift away from what was a regular habit, as with exercise, many do find it helpful - if trying to reestablish their reading on a firmer footing - to have some way of measuring it, so keeping a simple tally could prove effective.
Others (and scores of bloggers come into this category) actively challenge themselves to read more, or to read a more diverse range of books, and again recording what they've read helps them achieve that.
Thirdly, keeping tabs could be said to be akin to the discipline of regular music practice, say: have you done your hour (or whatever) a day?
It's entirely up to the individual, but it strikes me as a simple way to up your game, should you wish your game to be upped!

Dark Puss

Thank you, as always, for providing the context, my question was totally genuine as I had no idea who the writer is or his style. I do indeed realise that many people seem to want chalenges that appear to need external motivation and indeed I am taking a short break from today's flute practice to respond just now. However the moment I find I am doing my practice to avoid the tyranny of the stave, or even the disapproval (and there most certainly is disapproval) of my flute teacher then that's the time to find something else to entertain, or indeed challenge, me. If I can't self-motivate myself for the things I do not have to do then I am in a bad way indeed. Clearly others have a different approach and that's fine, but you will of course see why I made my first comment (I know you know, but just to put myself in context for other Cornflower readers).


Gretchen Rubin* writes about external and internal motivation and accountability and their ability to affect habits in her study of character 'tendencies', as she calls them. She identifies four types - upholder, obliger, rebel, and questioner - and suggests that while many people may fall into more than one category, most have a dominant type. An upholder, should he set out to read more, will do so without external monitoring of any kind; an obliger will do better if they are accountable to someone other than themself (though Michael Deacon's notebook may be enough); a questioner will ask why he 'should' read more and want evidence that the notebook works, and a rebel, in such a situation, will probably decide he'll just read less!
I'm not sure if that's helpful, but it may be of interest to both the wider question and to what works for you, DP.
*Her book is called Better than Before, and I haven't read it but I know a bit about it through her blog.


I'm an upholder. ;<)

Sue Scott

I would read more if I could persuade myself that reading during the day is allowed. Somehow I find it difficult to sit down with a book and yet I waste hours in front of a screen. Crazy. I do keep a reading diary though and managed to read lots of books in October when I began it but I've only read one this month. The diary does not guilt me into reading more.

Sue Cuthbert

I read lots because I like reading lots!

Joan Kyler

I don't know what it says about me (or maybe I do), but, since the 1960s, but not always consistently back then, I've kept a list of the books I've read, title, author, and date finished. I type this list up at the end of the year as part of my New Year's celebration. I also write up a 3 x 5 card with a short synopsis and what I thought of the book and file that by author. Since the computer age, I also keep my list on the computer, which makes it easy to search and sort for books or authors read. It's not kept to motivate me to read more, it's kept so I can remember what books I've read and when I read them.


I simply update my reading in, I can put as much or as little information there as I feel necessary.


I started a reading diary back in 2011 and I just make a list of what I read and the author. Even that little prompt can remind me of the book and what is was about. I've noticed,though, that over the last year I've read less, and that's due to social media and simply wasting time twiddling about online. I'd much rather be reading and yet I can't seem to help myself.

Spade & Dagger

I keep an annual notebook to keep track of books I would like to read, culled from all the recommendations online etc. When I've found & read the book, I tick it off & frequently add other titles by the same author (often conveniently found on the Fantastic Fiction site). I refuse to feel compelled by, or in competition with the lists (absolutely no counting!!) & will strike off anything no longer of interest.

The advantage of a paper book is that it is easy to take to the library or secondhand bookshops to remind me of authors/titles to seek out (also who recommended it). Obviously a smart phone or similar would also serve this purpose, but I personally enjoy flicking through the pages to find a good read. It is also interesting to compare old notebooks to see how reading tastes change or develop.


In a computer app that I use, I maintain a list of books I want to read--having heard about them from various sources, such as Cornflower's blog, articles, etc.. Before typing in the name of the book and the author, I put a small box which I can then check (using my finger on the screen) after I have read the book. This running list can be pulled up on my smartphone when I go to the library or bookstores, or when I am perusing bookseller websites. My smartphone is in a wallet case, so my library/credit cards are always with me. And I can access this file from any device (smartphone, laptop, tablet) since whenever I make a change on one, it is saved to all of the devices at the same time. Helps my aging mind...

P.S. I love the discourse between Cornflower and Dark Puss in the comments. Always entertaining.

Jenny in Edinburgh

I stopped maintaining my Goodreads log this year because I was worried that the drive for productivity and achievement that seems pervasive nowadays in working life wa seeping into the activities that bring me joy.

I have to say it was liberating!

Jenny in Edinburgh

I completely get it Dark Puss. I'm with you on this one.

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