The Reading Daybook

(Gift of Todd Oakley)

The reading daybook documents a particular kind of reading. It documents your development as a critical reader of prose style. By the end of this semester, you should have accumulated approximately 30 entries, all of which will vary in detail. Here is the procedure: read two portions of text a week in expository prose. Your reading can be from a textbook, newspaper, magazine, web page, advertisement, pamphlet—any expository piece is fair game. Start small. Read your selection once, and then have the document in front of you as you answer the following six fundamental questions. You may make multiple entries for different portions of one text.

  1. What can be known?
  2. What can be put into words?
  3. What is the relationship between thought and language?
  4. Who is the writer addressing and why?
  5. What is the implied relationship between writer and reader?
  6. What are the implied conditions of discourse?

These six questions, taken from page nineteen of Thomas and Turner’s Clear and Simple as the Truth, may be hard to find answers to at first, especially questions 1, 2, and 3. Aim to make specific comments for each question (you may not be able to come up with answers to all of them at first) regarding each piece of text. Remember each text has unique properties worth presenting.

The format of these entries should follow these general guidelines. Use a loose-leaf notebook. Tape this assignment sheet on the inside front cover. At the top of each page, provide a citation: author(s), press or publication, date of publication, and page number. Date each entry. On the page itself, provide numbered answers to the six questions. As the entries grow, so should the level of specificity and insight of your responses. I will check this daybook three times during the semester and grade it at the end of the course.