How BooKa Reviews

I work daily with books. A whole lot of books, children and recommendations (and in the interests of anonymity, I’ll stop there about my work if no one minds). Because of what I do, I often get asked how on Earth I can remember so many books in such detail off the top of my head. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how, seeing as my memory is absolutely shocking. I know everyone says that but seriously, if mine hadn’t always been like this I’d really be starting to worry about it. It’s got holes in it that a fishing net and unlike fishing nets, catches and keeps virtually nothing.

I’ve got two secret weapons though to help me remember more than I normally would do. One, I’ve found that I usually only remember the stories I especially liked in any real detail. Handy that really – I’ve got my very own mental trash can for the stories and books I didn’t like! And two, I keep these:

My review books – upside down for some reason known only to Blogger

These are my review books. They are Moleskine book journals that I’ve divided into age groups, one for Baby Books, one for Picturebooks, then one each for 5-8, 9-12 and Teen. In them I write down every book I read that I think are worth remembering (If a book isn’t in here, it’s usually because I didn’t like it and one of the reasons that I don’t review books I don’t like on here is because if you haven’t got anything good to say, you shouldn’t say it. The other reason a book won’t be in these is because the book has already saved time and gone to my mental trash can before I can start to forget it).

Allow me to walk you through one of these beasties – if you haven’t read Silverfin by Charlie Higson (and why not?! Tis awesome-sauce), don’t read on because you might spot a spoiler (I write very detailed notes). Don’t say I didn’t warn you – I put it in red and everything after all.

This is the inside of one of my review books. Again, if you don’t want to know about Silverfin, don’t look down! And here’s what each scruffy bit of it actually is.

Publishing info

Publishing info here – title (obviously), author, publisher etc. For the picturebooks I include the ISBN too, if only because you get so many different editions of them and some can really change the effect of the book i.e. DVD or no DVD, flaps or no flaps etc. Not so much with Teen though ;p.


Tags – these help me pick out the major themes or events in a book quickly. I also use them to fill in gaps that I couldn’t fit in my synopsis, or to jog my memory a bit more. They also tell me things to watch out for, like bad language, slang, unusual situations or more grown up elements in the case of Teen. Basically, if I need to recommend a book to a kid or a parent, I’ve got the tags to help me spot what might need to be mentioned about this book, depending on who I’m recommending to. Which brings us on to The Plot….

The Plot… dun dun duuuun!

Often described in massive detail because, again, rubbish memory. That and I can’t do short notes – the more detail the better, thank you. Basically whatever happens in the book, it goes here, which probably explains why some entries end up crawling all round the edges of the page. Honestly, this one isn’t so bad – one in particular ended up overflowing onto another page entirely, which messed that review up something rotten.

They’re all organised alphabetically by title or series name, since I know I remember titles better than authors. They’ve proven rather handy since I started this blog (if slightly illegible at points) and although they do take ages to fill in in as much detail as I like, they are worth their weight in gold to me when my memory draws a complete and utter blank.

So, now you know how I keep a library in my head (and my notebooks) – how do you remember books you’ve loved? What works best for you? Is my way completely alien to you, or can you think of a way to make it better (other than using stickers, which the child in me has already considered rest assured)? Tell me what you think!


One comment

  • This is such a brilliant idea. I've always had a good memory for books, though I'm sure it won't last as I get older! I do have a review notebook though, where I write my thoughts on a book in brief before I expand it into a full-length review for my blog.

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