Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pages from the Past: My 1998 Reading Journal


I've been a record keeper, note taker, and list maker for as long as I can remember. Is there such a thing as being too organized? Not in my world.

Kay, who has kept a reading journal for that last 22 years, recently started a Bookish Nostalgia series. She consults her log near the beginning of each month and shares what she was reading 20, 15, 10, and 5 years ago. I love those posts!

My own reading journal dates back to 1998, the year my twins started kindergarten. Prior to that, I was too busy to keep a journal or read much. {Here, I must insert my awe of bloggers with young children who manage to both read and  blog!} Inspired by Kay, my monthly offering will be called Pages From the Past and will focus on a specific reading year... stand-outs, stinkers, book club darlings, and other highlights.

Pages From the Past:
My 1998 Reading Journal

Stand-outs//

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  by John Berendt

She's Come Undone  by Wally Lamb

Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (a one hit wonder?)


I Know This Much is True  by Wally Lamb

The Robber Bride  by Margaret Atwood



Stinkers//

Journal of a Solitude  by May Sarton
I distinctly remembering sneering at what I perceived to be Sarton's excessive self-indulgence. At that time, my days were consumed by the demands of three little girls and I could not even imagine having the ability to consciously decide if my body was "ready" to be awakened by bright morning sunlight. Needless to say, solitude had no place is my life at that time. Over the past five or six years, I've thought about revisiting this book. I suspect my reaction might be quite different. 

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
A little too fluffy for my taste


Book Club Darling//

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood  by Rebecca Wells
Didn't every book club read this in 1998?


1998 Notable// 
I discovered Wally Lamb in 1998. He's still a favorite today.


Have you read any of these books? What were you doing in 1998?
Look for Pages From the Past: My 1999 Reading Journal  coming up in June.

47 comments:

  1. Such a great idea! I've often wanted to do some kind of blog series on the books I read when I was a teen (the only time I've kept a reading log). In 1998 I was a student at ASU and heard about all of these titles - I just didn't have the time to read them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anbolyn - I'd love to know what you were reading as a teen... sure wish I kept a record back then. Feel free to use or adapt any ideas here for your own feature!

      Delete
  2. I've read all of them, except I Know This Much Is True and The Robber's Bride. I like the idea of revisiting the books. I kept lists like this as well. Should probably look at them.

    In 1998 I was in the midst of raising three boys. I can't even tell you what I was doing, really. But in the past couple years I've come across many a May Sarton quote and totally get it now. I have that book somewhere. Perhaps time to pull it out.

    Always enjoy your posts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Midlife Roadtripper - I'm certain I would appreciate May Sarton a lot more now than I did in 1998. In fact, I'll bet some book club friends still remember my rant at that meeting;-)

      Looking through that old reading journal has made me want to revisit many of those titles. The Robber Bride and Cat's Eye are my two favorite Atwood novels...quite different from what she's writing today.

      Would love a peek at your journal! Gad you enjoyed the post :)

      Delete
  3. I enjoyed Kay's post and yours. I read Memoirs of a Geisha (memorable) and saw the movie Devine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat - Thanks for reminding me of the movie! I've never seen it. Off to check Netflix...

      Delete
  4. Looks like the same books I read back then LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diane - It seems like all readers read the same books back then...there must have been a lot fewer published each year.

      Delete
  5. Thank, JoAnn for the sweet comments. I was inspired by other bloggers too. See my first post in April. Anyway, in 1998, my daughter turned 16. So, she was taking driver's ed and then getting her license. Somehow, that's what I remember. LOL

    Looking back, I see I read Memoirs of Geisha in April of 1998. And I read I Know This Much Is True in July of that year. I have read the Ya Ya's, but I guess it was another year. And I read Summer Sisters and remember pretty much zero about it. I like your take on this topic. Interesting to think about what didn't work so well. Oh, and I was reading a lot of mysteries too. Surprised aren't you? :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kay - It's fun to see how our reading tastes both change and stay the same. I'd be happy to reread any of the 1998 stand-outs and really should reread the "stinker" Journal of a Solitude... think I might actually love it now. Summer Sisters seemed like a waste of my very precious reading time back then... kind of regretted the hours I wasted!

      Anyway, thanks again for the inspiration. I had such a good time putting this post together!

      Delete
  6. Oh,of course I had to go look!!

    Some of mine from 1998 included Lady Susan by Jane Austen, What we Keep by Elizabeth Berg (I just read her newest book), The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman, and mysteries by Deborah Crombie, Martha Grimes, Jonathan Kellerman, and Katherine Hall Page (series that they are still writing all these years later!)

    I started my book journals soon after college (so it's celebrating its 30th Reunion,just like our alumni just did).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Audrey - I was hoping you'd share! I also read Lady Susan and What We Keep, but maybe not that year. Just picked up The Inn at Lake Devine last summer at a library book sale... maybe I'll even read it this summer ;-)

      Love how you've stuck with the same authors/mystery series!

      Delete
  7. I remember seeing nearly all of these books around 1998 and after, as their popularity lingered. Except for Pride and Prejudice (which I first read in 1996) and Ya-Ya Sisterhood, I didn't read them - was still a little too young / sheltered to be interested in most. And then when I was older, there were new "it" books to pursue. I think I would still like to read Berendt's book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christy - That's the thing with books... it's always hard to go back to older ones when the new "it" titles are calling louder! Berendt's book had quite an impact on the city of Savannah. They still offer "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" tours there.

      Delete
  8. With the exception of May Sarton, many of these books look familiar to me as I was reading them back then, too. I haven't thought about Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in ages, but I remember how popular it was.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Monica - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was everywhere for years back then! I remember seeing the movie, too...

      Delete
  9. I wish I'd kept a reading journal! I never did until my blog. I adore Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I didn't read it with a book club. I'd watched the movie and wanted to try the book. My favorite part is their excitement over the premiere of Gone with the Wind.. Hm. I should reread it...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Corrine - Funny, I stopped writing in a physical reading journal when I started my blog in 2008. Have often thought I should go back and copy the lists from my blog into the journal, just in case. I never saw the movie version of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.... need to check Netflix!

      Delete
  10. Great feature! Looking forward to your future posts as well.

    I loved Memoirs of a Geisha too but you are probably right about the one-hit wonder comment. Also did read She's Come Undone - which I liked a lot when I read it but not so much now in retrospect. I want to read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and some (any) Margaret Atwood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Athira - I'm already looking forward to writing next month's post, so I'm glad you're excited to read it ;-)

      I wonder what I'd think of She's Come Undone now... might not like it quite as much. Robber Bride and Cat's Eye are my favorite Atwood novels and probably belong in their own category of her work. Both focus on women's friendships...loved them!

      Delete
  11. What a great reading year--one of my all-time favorite books is still She's Come Undone. I had to smile seeing the cover of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. That was so popular back in the day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Catherine - Discovering Wally Lamb in 1998 was definitely a high point. He's still a favorite today, even though I didn't love We Are Water as I have his other novels.

      I think anyone who read anything in the late 90's must have read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood... such a popular book back then!

      Delete
  12. Now you make me want to go back and revisit my old journals! In 1998, I was a sophomore in high school. I was devouring books and ignoring school work. i actually read the Wally Lamb books that year or so and loved them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vasilly - Oh, I'd love to see what you were reading in high school! Sure wish I'd kept a journal back then. Laughing that you were devouring books and ignoring school ;-)

      Delete
  13. Ooh, lovely notebook with books that make me feel nostalgic....loved She's Come Undone and The Robber Bride. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - The Robber Bride is still among my favorite Atwood novels.

      Delete
  14. What a great idea! I started a journal in 2001 but wasn't regular about it until 2004 and didn't really keep records of what I thought about any of them. I do remember reading and liking This Much I know is True. I think Journal of Solitude would seriously annoy me as well. I definitely don't have time to decide if my body is ready to be awakened! That's what coffee is for!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katherine - I don't have ratings early on in the journal, just little stars for those I especially liked or downward arrows for ones I didn't. Funny, but to this day I don't think a book has annoyed me as much as Journal of a Solitude did then!

      Delete
  15. I was reading A LOT in 1998 because I was home with my one year old daughter and not working most of that year. I really think I read about 6 of these same books in 98 also. I'll go back and check my reading journal. I love to look back over what I read and when I read it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amy - Would love to know if you read any of these! It seems like there were fewer books to choose from back then. Now with self publishing and all...

      Delete
    2. Here are the years I read and enjoyed some of these: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil (1997 - is one of the first books I have a record of reading because I didn't start a books read list until 1997); Memoirs of a Geisha (1998); Divine Secrets (1999); The Robber Bride (2002). I read I Know This Much is True in 1999, but I didn't like it...too sad and dramatic for my taste. I love Pride and Prejudice and have read it several times, the first time in high school, I think. I may do a blog entry similar to this one!

      Delete
    3. Wow, thanks Amy! It's interesting that so many of us were reading the same books. I hope you do write a blog post!!

      Delete
  16. Hi, Jo Ann -- I know you must be enjoying being back home. I have read all the books on your list except the last three. Currently reading "Spinster--Making a Life of One's Own" by Kate Bolick. Very interesting book which should stir up some great conversations. Although I have been married and have a daughter, I find that I can definitely relate to the single lifestyle choice, which I think comes from having been an only child and more independent than my mother could ever fathom. I began keeping a book diary in 1986, and looking back to 1998, I was very much into reading some of my favorite Southern authors, one being Elizabeth Spencer and her memoir "Landscapes of the Heart." In April of '98, I went to hear her reading at a literary festival at UNCChapel Hill. She was a good friend of Eudora Welty, my all-time favorite. Both were from Jackson, MS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to explore Elizabeth Spencer. I don't think I've heard of her, but I love Eudora Welty! My daughter will start at UNC Chapel Hill in August :)

      Delete
    2. JudyMac - I've only read Welty's stories and The Optimist's Daughter but loved them! My plan is to read Delta Wedding next, unless you recommend another title. I was delighted to learn in Ann Patchett's latest book, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, that she was a huge Welty fan... and even made the effort to attend her funeral.

      Like Amy, I am not familiar with Elizabeth Spencer. Will definitely look into her work.

      Delete
    3. Re Elizabeth Spencer: Her earliest fiction which sort of put her on the map is "The Voice at the Back Door," and then came "The Light in the Piazza," which, I believe, has both been filmed and staged on Broadway and elsewhere. Non-Fiction includes "On the Gulf" which features reminiscences of home and the wonderful art of Mississippi artist and potter Walter Anderson. Lastly, her most recent publication (2001) is "The Southern Woman," which is a collection of New and Selected a Fiction. Wonderful writer.

      Delete
    4. JudyMac - Thank you! I will check for The Voice at the Back Door at my library.

      Delete
  17. This is a fantastic idea for a post. I love to see what people were reading way-back-when.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deb - I love knowing what people were reading, too, and would be thrilled to see more bloggers do a post like this! Hint, hint ;-)

      Delete
  18. What a great idea. I so wish I had kept journals but it is never too late to start. I have several of these books unread on my shelves and you have reminded me of that. Oh dear. A fun post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pam - I'm glad you enjoyed this. I haven't had so much fun writing a post in ages!

      Delete
  19. What a cool idea! I used to post notes from my reading journal (kept in pre-blogging days), but have gotten out of the habit. I may join in sometime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth F - I'd love to see you join in!

      Delete
  20. I'm amazed at all these bloggers who kept journals of what they read way back when. Am I the only one who thought her memory would stay iron-clad and invincible? LOL
    Well, I now keep my read list up to date on Goodreads, and keep a notebook listing all my requested books and most likely to read of my owned books/e-books. That is about how organized I get though. As for your 1998 books, I remember reading Midnight in the Garden, Summer Sisters, Ya Ya Sisterhood and hearing all about the other titles I never picked up. Thanks for sharing these memories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rita - I suppose I felt some sense of accomplishment as the list grew each year, plus I knew I would never remember them all... some just weren't that memorable, lol.

      Delete
  21. O I love this, JoAnn, Pages from the Past. How memorable and interesting to look back on a long reading journey. I've read May Sarton and enjoyed her writing and thoughts. The other two I've seen their movies. Looking at the book covers reminds me of going to used book sales. Look forward to your future Past posts. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ARti - I'm glad you like this feature, and it's so true that seeing all those old covers is like going to a used books sale! I'm already looking forward to writing the 1999 post in June :)

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

I understand commenting has been a challenge lately, so will now allow anonymous comments. However, I will moderate comments on older posts. Sorry for the inconvenience.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails