During the keynote at a conference I attended a few months ago, I was sitting next to a woman holding an iPad. The screen was black, and using this wooden-looking stylus, she started drawing in beautiful, hot pink strokes. When the speaker made a particularly thought-provoking point, she quickly illustrated it in the iPad.
She was sketchnoting, a visual form of note-taking that has recently grown very popular. I was astonished, and inspired. I’ve never for a moment considered myself an artist, but I like to make pretty things just as much as the next person. This seemed to be the perfect bridge between my linear, wordy mind and my desire for more color and alternative forms of expression in my life.
She told me that the app is called Paper, and the stylus is called Pencil. Brilliant, right? So with my new iPad mini, I downloaded Paper, and requested Pencil as a birthday gift (thanks, Mom-in-law!).
That was the spark that led to my recent obsession.
When I found out about Paper and sketchnoting, I immediately thought about all the ways I could use this for book reviews—and I know I’m just scratching the surface. Other people have written delightful posts about all of the possibilities with Paper and Pencil, so I will leave them to it. I just want to focus on how this relates to my #1 hobby: blogging about books.
I’m calling them sketch reviews, or sketch reviewing, if you need a verb. (I haven’t quite gotten to the step of combining them into one word: sketchreviewing.)
As with sketchnoting, sketch reviews can be as linear or as abstract as you want. Thank goodness, there is no artistic skill required. Because seriously. Just see the gallery below. There’s a reason most of my “sketches” involve WORDS.
Clearly, I’m still learning, and although I cringe at the evidence of my lack of drawing ability, I’m excited to use this as a way to think through the books I read differently.
Here are some of the ways I’m sketch reviewing:
- Drawing just one important scene or theme from the book. This type of review does test my limited drawing ability, so we’ll see how many of these I actually have the guts to post online.
- Outlining important plot points or making character lists/charts. This is great for trying to remember everything that happens, or keeping all of the Russian names in Dostoevsky’s novels straight.
- Hand lettering quotes. I love a good quote, and I want to remember it. Taking the time to illustrate a quote not only helps me remember it, but it forces me to think about the meaning of the quote more.
I’m really excited to keep on sketch reviewing, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of these here on this blog. Hopefully, I’ll start branching out into more colors, more fonts, and more actual sketching. But since this is just for me to really process what I’m reading, we shall see!
I hope you enjoy!