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BOOKMARK: We asked readers if they keep a book journal: Here’s what they said

Years ago, when Germaine Gustafson was married, working as a nurse and raising children, she craved something in life that was just for herself. She found it in reading. She started going to the library and bringing home novels, nonfiction and true-crime books by the stack. She read so much that she forgot what she had read and sometimes she picked up a book and realized a third of the way in that she had already read it.

“So I started keeping track,” she told me the other day. “And through the years, as I went through marriage and divorce and kids and jobs and whatever, my reading list has expanded beyond belief.” She started jotting down the titles in January 1967, and now — 50 years later — her list totals 6,708. Probably 6,710 by the time this column hits print. Or 6,720. She reads fast.

A recent favorite, for instance, “The Nightingale,” by Kristin Hannah, she read in three days. “And it’s a fairly thick book,” she said. “I read a lot at night. If a book is really good, I’ll read in the afternoon, but I feel guilty.”

How many books does she read a year? “I never counted,” she said. “Probably about 25.” But then we divided 6,708 by 50 years and got: 134 books a year. “Wow,” she said, “I had no idea.”

Gustafson writes the titles on scratch paper and then, when the list grows to about 10 or 20 titles, she goes to the library and types it up on a computer.

Of all the people who wrote to me about keeping a book journal — and there were many, well over 100 — Gustafson, who is 78, has kept track the longest.

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