The WEM group--Adriana at Classical Quest, the the WEM Ladies from A Classic Case of Madness, and Ruth from An Experiment with TWEM--is posting today about their reading and note-taking habits, and they were very kind and asked me to participate. They say I can be an honorary WEMer, which is awfully nice of them I think.
I should explain that WEM is short for The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. This is a book by my favorite homeschooler, Susan Wise Bauer, on reading to fill in the gaping chasms of ignorance many of us have. It's divided into five genres: fiction, autobiography, history, drama, and poetry, and gives lists of pivotal works in each genre. The idea is that if you read the lists chronologically, you'll get a good idea of the development of each genre. It's a great book and I do recommend it for reading fiends!
In accordance, the members of the WEM group read classic books, take notes, and then discuss in detail on their blogs. (Right now it's Huck Finn, with bonus Pride and Prejudice for Valentine's Day.) I have sometimes joined up, as with Portrait of a Lady, and I'll be reading along with Huck Finn too.
And now to the point of this post! The only trouble with me writing a post about my reading and note-taking process is that I don't really have much of one.
I have a regrettable tendency to read while doing other things, in snatches: I stir soup and read a few paragraphs, and so on. Of course I also sit down and read, but even when I mean to underline important bits and take notes, either the notes or the entire book tend to get forgotten. Portrait of a Lady has underlines--in the first 100 pages. I have a couple of notebooks by my bed with notes of, say, Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government (which I need to take notes on in order to understand), but the book has been gathering dust for some time. I'll have to read it eventually though; I put it on my Classics Club reading list.
Mostly I just read the books and then write up a post. It's true that a lot gets lost this way. I'll be reading along, full of thoughts, and then when it comes time to write something it's all gone.
I do have one good point in my favor. My friends credit me with the super-power of being able to find any passage in a book in no time flat, which is mostly true. It's not much of a super-power I guess, but I'll take what I can get.
I had a WEM-style reading journal a few years ago. I was quite pleased with it actually; it had dividers for different genres and everything, and I really did take notes and write things in it. It's still sitting in its place getting dusty, so maybe I should take it out and start again...