My Reading Journal, or How I Taught Myself To Enjoy Reading Again

Ironically enough, by the time I finished with my MA in English Literature a few years ago I had “lost” the habit of reading. From someone who used to read at every available (and not so available) moment I had turned into a non-reader almost entirely. This bothered me so I set up to rectify it by “gamifying” reading until I had tricked myself back into the habit again.

Field Notes had just come out with their Arts and Sciences, the perfect format for my plans. The idea wasn’t only to create a journal where I would log my thoughts on each book as I read it, but create a little set of “achievements” that I could unlock for each book as I read it. For each quarter of the book I read, I got an achievement, a little logo that symbolized the book which I drew on a separate page. The accumulation of those silly little symbols was enough to push me forward as I learned to enjoy reading again. I kept that up for three Field Notes Arts books and then when I ran out of them, I simplified the format and moved to the Moleskine Two-Go, which had just come out. The Field Notes Arts notebook wasn’t fountain pen friendly so I used a Karas Kustoms Render K, a Blackwing pencil and the Caran d’Ache Bicolor 999 double sided coloured pencil.

On the first year that I tried using this system (from March 2016) I got from not reading any new books (just my old familiar favourites) to reading almost 20 new books. On the second year (2017) I got up to 42 books. This year to date I’m at 58 books, and I’ll probably read 60-61 books by the end of the year. I no longer need to spend time drawing little “achievement badges” as my reading habit is back here to stay. I do, however, still keep a book journal even though I’ve started using Goodreads since 2017. It’s a satisfying way to keep track of my reading and organize my thoughts on the books that I’ve read.

You can check out the format of the entries for fiction and non-fiction below. The unlined left side of the spread (verso) is where I do a little doodle that reminds me of something central in the book, and explain the star rating that I gave the book in each category. I really recommend that if you choose to create your own analog reading journal, you create your format yourself. Mine has changed over time, particularly for non-fiction, and it works with my reading goals for the year.

This is the index, which is useful for reference later on and is a good way to check my reading progress throughout the year.

#inktober Day 6: vintage drawing pins tin

I like old tins, and this one is one of my favourites, because of the sheer amount of fonts packed into such a tiny box.

Drawn with a Pilot dual tipped brush pen on a blank Moleskine Star Wars notebook and coloured with Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils.

Caran d’Ache 849 Nespresso Pen

I was eying the Caran d’Ache 849 line for a while, wondering whether to try one or not. On the one hand I really liked their design. On the other hand, they’re ballpoint pens, and I have very little use for ballpoint pens. They require pressure to write with, and with my carpal tunnel problems, ballpoint-caused pain is what made me research and get into fountain pens in the first place.

Then I started getting emails about the Caran d’Ache 849 collaboration with Nespresso. From Cult Pen’s website:

In 2015 Nespresso launched its Second Life project, the aim of which is to recycle its aluminium coffee capsules and use them to create other products. Caran d’Ache’s 849 was a perfect candidate! An exclusive alloy using the aluminium from the Nespresso capsules was created in order to meet the 849’s quality requirements, and the ‘Darkhan’ capsule was chosen to lend its dark blue colour to the Nespresso 849 Limited Edition.

Well that got me hooked. I enjoy Nespresso’s capsules and especially its design, and I was intrigued by the idea of its capsules (which I recycle) ending up in such an iconic pen. A quick order from Cult Pens (who now have free international shipping for orders over £50) later, and this arrived:

The packaging is recycled, beautiful, and really evokes a Nespresso capsule sleeve:

The pen has ” Made with Recycled Nespresso Capsules” screen printed on it as well as all the usual, understated Caran d’Ache branding.

I took advantage of the free shipping to also order an 849 Tropical pen, and unlike that and other, more standard, 849s, this pen has a textured, beaded body. If you have sweaty hands, this is a blessing, of course.

Although it’s a metal-bodied pen it is surprisingly light and very well balanced. Even if you have tiny hands you shouldn’t have any trouble using this pen for long periods of time. The knock is so smooth that it doesn’t click, which I found a bit annoying. I’m used to pen knocks clicking unless they are faulty, and so I found myself constantly pausing to check if the mechanism had fully engaged before I started writing.

I don’t use ballpoints for writing, especially not for long periods of time, but this pen is obviously built to be a workhorse. Nothing rattles when you write, the refill is smooth, with no blobs of ink and no problems starting. Thin white streaks appear now and then while writing, but that’s to be expected and is hardly noticeable. Unlike many ballpoint refills, the Caran d’Ache Goliath refill that comes with this pen dries almost immediately, even on Moleskine paper, making it friendly for left-handed writers.

All in all a great pen, and a perfect gift for the Nespresso lover in your life.