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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Knight, Rachelle Rogers: Read, Remember, Recommend

  Amazon  

3 stars

Read, Remember, Recommend is a spiral-bound reading journal with six tabbed sections: Awards and Notable Lists, To Read, Journal Pages, Recommendations, Loaner Lists, and Resources. In the introduction to the journal the author explains that one goal of the book is to "promote great works of fiction and literature," and indeed this purpose of the book is given pride of place. The Awards and Notable Lists section takes up the first part of the book and is over 150 pages long, containing lists of award-winning books from Pulitzer Prize winners to winners of the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Next to each award-winning book listed there are checkboxes: Own, Recommend, To Read, Want. For my own purposes this section is pretty much wasted space, but there is presumably some subset of readers out there who are serious about reading through lists of award-winning books. If so, this would be a great tool for the purpose.


The To Read section is far briefer, with room to list 50 books that one is interested in getting one's hands on, and with the checkboxes Own, Recommend, To Read, Want. "To Read" would seem to be an otiose checkbox, but maybe you could check it off after you're read the book  to indicate that it's no longer among the to be read.

The Journal Pages section ought to be the meat of the book, one would think, but it weighs in at only about 60 pages and it's stuck in the middle. The section offers four pages for simply listing read books by title and date finished. The rest of the section includes pages on which one can write more detailed information about the book--passages to remember, comments and thoughts, etc. Confusingly, some of the entries allow a half page per book, while others provide a page and a half or two pages of space and include additional fields, such as "words to define" and "passages to remember." By my count there is room to journal about 66 book.

The Recommendations section is eight pages long, with room to note to whom one has recommended particular books. I can't imagine anyone being anal retentive enough to want to record their recommendations, but again, there must be someone out there who does this.

Loaner Lists more helpfully provides room for one to record books lent and borrowed. It's eight pages long and half of each page is given to lent, half to borrowed.

Finally, the Resources section provides a bunch of information: websites of book awards, a list of book blogs, definitions of literary terms, etc.

A book journal is like a calendar or planner in that the selection of format and how one uses it is a very personal thing: what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. If you're trying to decide what book journal to get, you'll want to at least see pictures of the potential choices yourself to see if it can fit into your life. As for me, Read, Remember, Recommend simply doesn't fit the bill. I have a number of issues with it:

  • The Awards section is unnecessary and takes up an inordinate amount of space
  • The Journal Pages section is weirdly laid out and doesn't offer enough space
  • Information found in the Resources section could easily be found on the web
  • I can't imagine wanting to write down whom I've recommended a book to
  • The Journal Pages section has room to write about 66 books; that is, once you've finished those, this thick, elaborate book is defunct

On the plus side, the book is attractive, and the spiral binding and tabs are a big plus.

Read, Remember, Recommend is like one of those thick calendar/planner type books. They look great. They look as if you could organize your whole life around them. But in practice they're too much, corresponding to someone else's vision of how the information you use should best be organized. For me a sturdy blank book would be preferable, a Moleskin maybe, to which you could add your own tabs if you needed to designate different sections. That would not only be better suited to one's individual needs, but it would in the end provide a lot more usable space.

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