It’s just an update

Dear Fellow Journalers,

“I have to admit I haven’t read that much”, ” well, not a lot”, “well some,”- do you see where this is going?

Do you have a Reading Challenge on Good Reads?

I start one every year. Sometimes I overshoot; sometimes I come close; and yes, sometimes I never get out of the gate! I know what you’re thinking. With all this free time, why the heck not? And, more importantly, why does she feel guilty about it?

Good Reads is a tracker of books YOU’VE read during the year. You set it up so you can change it. It’s not meant to be a sinister plot to get you to buy more books from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. So, you don’t have to feel guilty about only reading a bit.

So, it’s August, and I am no where near my original goal and my subjects are as eclectic as ever. This year, I spent a lot of time researching subjects. In addition to “pleasure ” and “just for fun” books, I read books about certain time periods.

I started writing stories again. At first it was a way to get through the isolation of Covid but then it became much more. So, what did I read or re-read?

When I’m writing a fiction story, I tend to read a lot of fiction, historical fiction and non-fiction books pertaining to the time period or theme. One fan fiction story for instance, “The Price of Honor” took place after the Civil War when people were still angry about the issues of the past five years. Therefore, the books I read and re-read were:

“The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane, “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier, “Sackett’s Land” by Louis L’Amour, “Confederate in the Attic” by Tony Horowitz “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. My “fun ” book was “Murder She Wrote – Killing in a Koi Pond” by Jessica Fletcher.

Another story I wrote, “The Second Chance” was mostly researched with the help of Google! And finally, the story I’m writing now(no title yet) is about a school teacher whose one-room school house is in Wyoming territory in the late 1800’s. For this story, 8 chapters written so far, the books I an rereading are “Little House on the Prairie” by Wilder, “Far Away Home” by Susan Denying and “Letters of a Woman Homes reader” by Stewart.

What are YOU reading?

~Sallie

7 Reading Trackers for your Reading Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Enjoy the following!

Sallie

7 Best Reading Trackers for Book Lovers

Looking for the best reading trackers to keep track of the books you’ve read and the books you want to read? Keeping a reading log is one of the best decisions any reader can make, and will easily and quickly improve your reading life. So if you’re ready to investigate the best reading trackers, read on!

What Is a Reading Tracker?

First, you may be wondering what a reading tracker even is. The concept itself is pretty self-explanatory, but essentially it’s just a way to keep track of the books you read (or the books you want to read in the future).

But reading trackers come in many different forms. There are apps you can use, plenty of printables and bullet journal spreads, spreadsheets, and pretty much any other method you can dream up. Some methods are better than others, though, so today we’re going to talk about a few of the best options for tracking your reading!

Looking for ways to catalog all the books you own? Check out these incredible home library apps!

Why Use a Reading Tracker?

So why should you use a reading tracker? Having a system for tracking the books you read is helpful on many levels, and can also be a lot of fun!

First, tracking your reading can help you focus on reading more instead of worrying about feeling disorganized. Less time worrying about organization means more time for reading.

It can also save you from the awful feeling of forgetting a book you really want to remember, and not being able to find it later! I can’t tell you how many times I used to forget the title of a book I loved and then had to try to find books again from a vague description. Now, because of keeping a reading log, this happens far less frequently since I know exactly where I can find the books I’ve read before.

And, if you use a reading tracker that allows you to take notes, then you can also easily find your thoughts on specific books….even years after you’ve read them. No more thinking “Oh yes…I read that book, but I don’t remember whether it was any good.”

Of course, tracking your reading can also help you when you’re setting reading goals or trying to stay on track to meet your reading goals. Plus, it’s also just a lot of fun to see the books you’ve read add up over time…and to be able to look back at your year (or more) of reading and see everything you loved!

7 Amazing Reading Trackers for Readers

There are many different reading tracking methods, but if you’re ready to try tracking your reading then here are some of the best methods to try.

1. Book Tracking Spreadsheet

Screenshot of Bona Fide Bookworm's Google Sheets reading tracker

One of my favorite book tracking methods is to use a spreadsheet to keep track of the books I’ve read. I love this method because I can easily access my reading log from any device and from anywhere, and since it is stored in the cloud I know I won’t accidentally lose it!

Spreadsheets are also an excellent method to use because you have complete control over your data (unlike using an app, where your data may disappear if something happens to the app or if it shuts down…like Shelfari did in 2016).

With a reading tracking spreadsheet, you can also choose what data you want to include and remove any extraneous items you don’t want to track. It’s your own private database, so you can do whatever you want with it!

That leads me to the next reason you might choose to use a book reading spreadsheet: your data is private. Many online reading trackers are “social,” which means your books, reviews, ratings, etc. are available for anyone in the public to see. Social reading trackers can be fun, but some people prefer to keep their book records private or share them with only a few people. If this is you, then a Google Sheets book tracker could be the way to go.

But are there any downsides to using a reading log spreadsheet? One of the biggest downsides is that it can be a bit time-consuming to set up at first, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing with Excel/Google Sheets.

But fortunately for you, you can bypass this issue by getting the exact reading tracker spreadsheet I use! I’ve done the setup work for you so you can simply enter the data on the books you read to start building your own reading list spreadsheet. Plus, I’ve set it up so you automatically get some cool statistics about the books you read…including how many books you’ve read, how many pages you’ve read, how many books you read in various genres, and more!

2. Goodreads

Screenshot of Goodreads reading catalog books page

When you’re looking to keep track of the books you read, one of the more popular options is to use the reading tracking features on Goodreads. You likely already use Goodreads when you’re looking up new books or searching for summaries, but if you haven’t yet tried out their book tracking capabilities then now is the time to do so!

Essentially, this tracking method allows you to input the books you read into “shelves,” which you can then view or sort to easily find books you’ve read (or want to read). When you first create an account, you’ll automatically be given three shelves: “Read,” “Currently Reading,” and “Want to Read”. However, you can also add extra shelves to keep your reading more organized or to set up your own system of shelves for tracking.

So how does Goodreads book tracking work? To use this reading tracker method, simply search for a book on the Goodreads site and then click on the triangle adjacent to the green “Want to Read” button. This allows you to add the book to any of your shelves, and you can then give the book a star rating, enter a public review, set the dates of when you started and finished reading it, and add other information as well.

Goodreads works well for readers who want a more social reviewing process, as reviews and shelves are public and there’s a whole community here of readers who will interact with you and with your reading choices. It can be quite fun! Goodreads also makes suggestions of what you might like to read next based on the books you’ve added to your shelves, so this can be a good way to find your next favorite read too.

Another thing I like about Goodreads is that they do have an app you can use (although sometimes there are a few glitches!). But this means you can add to your reading list from your desktop, but you can also use the app to add new books or keep track of books read. This is so helpful for when you’re at the library or a bookstore, as you can have an easy-to-access list of the books you want to read (and also avoid buying books you’ve already read or own).

Additionally, I love that Goodreads has some stats options that allow you to see statistics about your reading. I don’t think their stats are as beautiful or easy to use as the stats from some of the other reading trackers on this list, but their “Year in Books” feature is definitely pretty cool and does a good job of summing up your reading from the previous year!

Tip: If you want to switch to Goodreads or switch from Goodreads to another reading tracker method (like to a tracking spreadsheet), you can easily import/export book data so you don’t have to enter it all manually again!

3. LibraryThing

Screenshot of LibraryThing reading catalog homepage

Another good place to track your reading is LibraryThing. Like Goodreads, LibraryThing is a social and public place for keeping a reading log…so you can add all your books for anyone to see and can also interact with others on the platform. This is my second favorite way to catalog my “Books I’ve Read” List (after using my Google Sheets spreadsheet) as this interface is really feature rich and has lots of cool stats to see!

With LibraryThing, you can catalog your books online using your computer or you can use their reading log app on your phone to access or input books from anywhere. I particularly enjoy that you can use the phone app to scan physical books into your catalog, instead of having to input them manually. It saves a lot of time!

The goal of LibraryThing is to create a professional-quality library catalog for all its users, so you can use this reading tracker app to track books read, to keep track of all the books you own, or both. It works by searching over 2,200 libraries, Amazon catalogs, and the Library of Congress so you can easily input books with all their information already included (this includes the Dewey Decimal number, publication information, and even the book’s height and weight!).

Other cool features of the LibraryThing reading tracker include that you can use their automatically created library catalogs, you can create your own catalogs, and that you can tag books with your own tags to help you sort through all the books later. And when you input a new book, there are also places to add reviews, public comments, private comments, and more!

These are only a few of the incredible features LibraryThing has to offer, but one more aspect we shouldn’t neglect to mention is their stats tab. When you click on this tab, it will take you to a whole world of details and trivia about the books you’ve read and your reading habits. Some of these include chart data on when the books you’ve read were published, how many awards the books you’ve read have received, how many total characters there are across your cataloged books, and what distribution of star ratings you’ve given to the books you’ve read.

But LibraryThing doesn’t stop there! They’ll also tell you what percentage of your authors are dead vs. alive, and will give you other fun trivia like the height of your total books stacked on top of each other when compared to other objects…like a hobbit, a double-decker bus, Niagara Falls, and more! As your book list grows, you’ll get new objects to compare it to. If you like fun stats and love to obsessively track your reading, this is definitely the site for you!

You can get a free account on LibraryThing and get started with cataloging your books today. Plus, it’s easy to import your books from another source or export them if you decide to change how you keep a reading log, so it’s a no-brainer to use this incredible service.

4. Libib

Screenshot of Libib reading tracker homepage

Libib is another good method for keeping a reading log, and it has a really clean interface and a free app you can use as well. With a free standard account at Libib, you can track up to 5,000 items in up to 100 different “libraries” (aka personal catalogs)!

Like LibraryThing, this service strives to provide a place for individual readers to create a professional and organized personal library catalog. You can catalog books, movies, music, or even video games through this system, although I personally have only used it to catalog my books.

When you wish to enter a book to your catalog, simply create a new library or use an existing one. Be sure to choose whether you wish your library to be published or not (if you publish it, it is available for anyone in the public to see). You can then enter the book by searching the ISBN or keywords or can enter it manually if it is a rare or antique item. Alternatively, you can use the app to easily scan a physical book and automatically enter it into your catalog!

When you enter a book, be sure to add any tags, notes, set a star rating, or add it to a group (useful for book series so you can have all the books show up together in your catalog). Adding this data makes your library easily searchable, so you can find books alphabetically by title/author, by published date, by tag, or any number of other useful methods.

Your listings will then contain all this information as well as book thumbnails, summaries, and other automatically pulled data about the book so you have everything you need at your fingertips. For books you own, you can also set how many copies you have, what condition the book is in, and how much you paid for it. Plus, there’s a good basic stats page you can visit to learn more about the books you’ve cataloged!

I use Libib mostly for my own collection of books that I actually own rather than books I’ve read from the library or borrowed from friends, but if you want to use it as a way to keep a reading log it definitely has the functionality for this as well. You could even create a library of “read but not owned” books if you like, or add a tag to all the ones you own so you can keep them separate from the ones you’ve only read but haven’t purchased.

On the whole, this is a really amazing interface for tracking a personal library or tracking your reading. It also has a way to import or export books from Libib, so if you are using another reading tracker and want to switch over to this one you can do it easily. So go ahead and check out this cool tracking option today!

5. Printable Reading Journal

Bona Fide Bookworm's Free Printable Reading Tracker

Another popular method for keeping a reading log is to use a printable reading journal. This allows you to print out the exact pages you want to use, and to print as many of them as you want, so your journal is always exactly what you need.

If you want to try out a printable reading journal, you are welcome to get a copy of my printable reading journal that I created for you for free! It provides several of the most common reading journal pages to help you get started in the world of printable reading journals.

6. Physical/Bound Reading Journal

Books to Read Printable

Wondering how to keep track of books read and feeling old school? Then using a physical journal to keep your reading log could be the solution for you! This is a fun method to use for those who love the physical aspect of keeping their reading log on a shelf…or for those who are artistic and want to create their own reading journal in a bullet journal format!

There are lots of reading journals to choose from and the one you pick will depend on your own needs and desires for what you want to track. If you want a pre-formatted journal, then you could consider ones like The Book Lover’s Journal, the Ex Libris Private Reading Journal, or this Reading Journal for Book Lovers.

However, if you prefer customizing what you want to track about each book and having the freedom to create your own lists and sections, then I highly recommend getting a blank bullet journal notebook (like the Leuchtturm 1917 Journal) to create your own reading journal. This is especially fun for those who are artistic, but you don’t have to be artistic to use this method. If you’re looking for pretty designs, you can buy inserts from shops on Etsy or similar sites and then either paste them directly into your notebook or use them as a stencil to trace the design in your journal.

When you’re wondering how to keep a reading log, the physical format of a reading journal can be a really satisfying way to keep track of your books. Of course, you won’t have access to automatically created stats with a physical journal…but the customization and artistic aspects of this method make it worth it for those who love to keep their reading logs on the shelf!

7. Bookshelf Reading Tracker Bookmarks

And last but not least, another reading tracker method you might want to try are these printable bookshelf reading tracker bookmarks!

These bookmarks are offered as a digital download so you can print as many as you want for your own personal use. They allow you to write titles of books you have read on the spines of the books, and you can color in the books if you would like as well.

Since this book tracking method is in bookmark form, you will always have your reading list to hand by tucking it into your latest read. This is a simple and easy way to track your reading, so these are sure to quickly become your new favorite bookmarks!

Virtual Travel Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

A travel journal, a Virtual Travel Journal helps you record your journey to another state. There are, of course, no packing tips, admission fees, or maps. About the only thing that you need is a laptop and the internet. Here are some museums that I checked out during Covid.

Sallie

https://www.bostonusa.com/event/virtual-cultural-experiences-in-freedoms-way/65350/

https://www.tripsavvy.com/childrens-museums-virtual-visit-4800065

https://airandspace.si.edu/learn/programs-and-activities/virtual-field-trips

https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour

Phrase Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

One of the most read posts on my craft blog, is “sentiments.” I try and sift through the billions of greetings a crafter can use when creating a greeting card. A phrase journal works much the same way. You highlight or write down a phrase or group of words with the source material. Here are some examples from my journal:

“You can’t lie to someone you love and you can’t love someone you lie to.” The Return by Nicholas Sparks

“…..limitless room in his heart for sheltered souls”. Nicholas Sparks The Return

“…had she ever thought about me in the last couple of weeks, or had I already become a half remembered memory, colored with regret.”. Same as above.

“achingly beautiful day.” The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice

“…I came here full of fear. I felt like I was alone in a blizzard and had to find shelter from the consequences of my mistakes.” Embrace the Wind by Susan Dennng

“If one has a book, Mr. Boone, one is never alone. They will talk to you and when you want to listen, and when you tire of what they are saying you just close the book.” The Cherokee Trail Louis lamour

“….His eyes were filled with questions she was too exhausted to answer.” The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs

“When do promises come with an expiration date?” The Revolving Heart by Chuck Aiello

“Love is the only thing that we can carry with us when we go, and it makes the end so easy.” The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

“The past is a lesson, not a sentence.” The Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans

“…He knew the voice. It matched the smile on the man’s face. The smile that kept him sane all these months. The light in these blue eyes that was the beacon that always welcomed him home.”. Mister by MustangSallie https://www.fanfiction.net. (me!)

God Bless America

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Ever wondered about this song and how it came to be written? I did. Enjoy and while you enjoy your picnics, barbecues and fireworks, remember why we celebrate.

Sallie


God Bless America — The Story Behind The Song
Posted: 02 Jul 2021 10:50 AM PDT
The story below is reprinted from The Kennedy Center website:

This is the story behind “God Bless America.” This simple one-verse song became an overnight hit, and a hopeful song as war threatened. “It’s not a patriotic song,” composer Irving Berlin said in a 1940 interview, “but an expression of gratitude for what this country has done for its citizens, of what home really means.” Today, many Americans consider “God Bless America” an unofficial national anthem of the United States.

The life of Irving Berlin is a uniquely American success story. He was born Israel Baline in the Jewish village of Tyumen, in a harsh region of Russia known as Siberia. When he was about five, an anti-Jewish mob destroyed his family’s home, and the Balines set out for America. They settled on New York’s Lower East Side.

Irving Berlin’s father died when he was eight, and “Izzy” went to work selling newspapers to help support his family. As a young teen, he began singing in saloons and at some point taught himself piano. He began copying the musical styles of the day, and developed an incredible instinct for creating popular tunes that people loved to sing. A printing error on a published piece of sheet music left him with the name Irving Berlin, and that was the name he carried as he wrote song after song. In 1911, he wrote his first huge dance hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”

After that, Berlin’s career took off like a rocket. He wrote stage musicals and film scores, and produced hit after hit. Many are still sung today, including: “White Christmas,” “Blue Skies,” “Always,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Heat Wave,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,”—and “God Bless America.”

When describing his goal as a songwriter, Berlin said: “My ambition is to reach the heart of the average American…that vast intermediate crew which is the real soul of the country….My public is the real people.”

Kate Smith, one of the great singers of her day, had asked for a new number for her radio show. The year was 1938, and she was looking for something fresh to mark the 20th anniversary of the end of the Great War, what would later be called World War I. Irving Berlin had composer’s block.

Berlin felt the urgency to deliver. He had recently returned from Europe, where catastrophe was brewing. Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, was growing more powerful and aggressive and seemed to be preparing for war. But Berlin wasn’t focused on writing a get-America-ready-for-war song. He wanted to create something to celebrate America as a special place to live.

Then he remembered a song he had drafted years earlier. He pulled out an old trunk and dusted off the 20-year-old manuscript.

Reviving and Revising a Forgotten Song

In 1918, Sergeant Irving Berlin was stationed at Camp Upton in Yaphank, on Long Island, New York. Berlin was already a successful songwriter, now a draftee, and his commanding officer enlisted him to write a musical revue to help raise money for a new building. The result was Yip, Yip, Yaphank, a light-hearted musical revue about army life featuring music, skits, and military drills. The show produced one of the hits of World War I, “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” a comic song about a soldier’s reluctance to answer reveille, the army’s early AM alarm clock played on a bugle.

Berlin had written another song for the revue, but had cut it from the show. He thought the lyrics were too sappy. So “God Bless America” waited in that trunk for two decades.

Then Kate Smith came calling. Now, Berlin looked over his earlier work and rapidly began rewriting and revising. He had less than two weeks to get it ready for her performance.

Here is how the 1918 version had read:
God Bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her
And guide her
To the right with the light from above
Make her victorious on land and foam
God Bless America, my home sweet home.


Berlin knew he had to change the line To the right with the light from above. “The Right” in politics had come to mean conservative political groups. He wanted a song that brought Americans together, not set Americans apart. And he changed Make her victorious…since it suggested military conquest, rather than the “peace song” he was shooting for.

The result was the song most American school kids have learned by heart ever since.

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains,
To the prairies,
To the ocean white with foam
God bless America,
My home sweet home.


Smith sang the song as the show-closer on her live national broadcast that night. Berlin’s phone immediately began ringing off the hook. Everyone wanted to know where they could get the music.

After that, Smith almost always included the song in her weekly show, and it became her trademark during a career that spanned five decades. She also added a short poem-prelude that Berlin had written:
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in solemn prayer.


Storm clouds were indeed gathering over Europe. Less than a year after the debut of “God Bless America,” Germany’s war machine rolled into Poland, igniting World War II in Europe. (The Japanese had already invaded China two years earlier, beginning the war in Asia.) The United States would not officially join the war until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. But as “God Bless America” grew in popularity, most Americans already feared that it was just a matter of time before the U.S. would be called to fight.

During World War II, Berlin toured with his show This is the Army to raise money for the U.S. war effort. “God Bless America” was one of the featured songs.
The God Bless America Foundation

When it came to “God Bless America,” Irving Berlin and Kate Smith put their money where their mouths were. They donated all the royalties from the hit song to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America through the God Bless America Foundation. That arrangement is still in effect today.

Other wartime songs would remind Americans what they were fighting against. Berlin’s “God Bless America” reminded them of what they were fighting for.
— end of the article.
I hope you found this as interesting as I did.
Tom CorreaAmerican Cowboy Chronicles

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