Disclosure: D&D Creations, the developers of this product, provided me with a sample for review purposes (the product retails for $29.95 plus shipping). I received no other compensation.
I always wanted to be someone who kept a reading journal. I made a few half-hearted attempts, but they never stuck, and I never had much success at keeping records of what I read until I went online, where this blog and LibraryThing both serve that purpose. If I were still looking for a way to keep a reading record, or if I wanted to supplement it with an off-line method, I think that A Life Well Read could be just the ticket. It’s a beautifully packaged reading journal and library organizer all in one.
Like the best organizational systems, A Life Well Read is designed with a combination of structure and flexibility in mind. It comes with 50 cards that can be used as bookmarks while you’re reading a book, and as a journal once you’re done. Record when you received and read the book, your rating, and your notes on one side; the other side is a “library card” listing the book’s lending and book-club history. Use any or all of these areas as you choose. There’s not a lot of space for detailed reviews, but you can write down quotes and impressions as you read; if you’re reading for a book club, make some notes about the meeting discussion or things you want to make sure you talk about; the lending history is useful if you can’t remember exactly who has that book right now.
You don’t have to use the card system just for books you’ve read, either. There are literally a dozen ways you can file the cards – five are pre-printed on the category dividers, while the others are up to you. For me, the “Books on Loan,” “Books I Want,” and “Books to Give” would be the most useful; the book cards even include three designed just to list books you want to give as gifts, and to whom. The box also includes self-adhesive bookplate stickers to label those books you’re loaning out, and gift labels to attach inside the ones you’re giving to others. The whole thing comes in a sturdy bookshelf-sized box, and even includes a pen for making all of those notes.
At this point, I don’t think that a system like this will replace my online one for tracking what I’ve read. However, I can definitely see using it for “Books I Want” and “Books to Give.” I don’t catalog my wish list right now, but thanks to other book bloggers, it’s growing all the time – and it’s currently scattered through weeks (and months) of my TBIF posts. It would be great to have it in a more accessible and useful format. And since I do often give books as gifts, it would help to have a place to write down those “this would be a great one for so-and-so” inspirations so I could find them later. Speaking of gifts, I think that A Life Well Read would be a great gift for book lovers who aren’t currently keeping a reading journal, either on- or off-line, since it’s so flexible and easy to use.
There’s only one thing I really think this system needs – additional book cards. There are 50 cards in the box, and for many of us, that won’t last long. (Fortunately, refill cards are available for just $4.95 for a set of 25.) But right now, and through October 15, the A Life Well Read boxed set is available at a 25% discount for readers of The 3 R’s (just use that dedicated link).
Thanks to Deborah and Debra of D&D Creations for the opportunity to test-drive A Life Well Read. If you decide to give it a try yourself, I’d love to know what you think – and don’t forget to use that discount link!