Book Review: Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal, Potter Style (2011)

March 10th, 2015 2:49 pm by Kelly Garbato

An Awesome Idea Marred by Lackluster Execution

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Blogging for Books.)

When I was younger, I kept a diary and wrote in it fastidiously, especially during my tumultuous teenage years. College was predictably hectic and I soon fell out of the habit, never to return – but not for lack of effort. As an adult, I’ve tried to resurrect my journaling several times, with little luck; mostly I don’t have the time, or don’t know what to write about. Also it doesn’t help that my handwriting sucks, thanks to the ubiquity of computers. (My third grade teacher would be horrified!) So when I spotted Q&A a Day on Blogging for Books, I thought I might give it a try.

It’s a cool idea that seems to surmount many of the obstacles I’ve encountered when journaling as an adult. Laid out kind of like a day planner, the book features a question or prompt for each day, with enough spaces to cycle through five years. Due to both the pointedness of each question, and the limited space provided per response, each question should take only a minute or two to answer. Maybe five if you really want to think on it. With such a small time commitment per day, it should be easy for even the most harried among us to keep up.

The questions run the gamut, from “How could today have been better?” to “What can’t you forget?”

Here are a few of my favorites:

“If this day was an animal, which animal would it be?”

“How do you describe home?”

“How can you help?”

“Who are you fooling?”

“What advice would you give to a second-grader?”

While the idea gets a full five stars from me, the execution leaves something to be desired. The book is impractically tiny. At nearly 1 1/4″ thick and 6 1/4″ tall x 4 1/4″ wide, it’s a little smaller than a mass market paperback (though just as thick), when I expected something closer in size to a trade paperback.

To wit:

2015-03-02 - Q&A a day - 0001 [flickr]

You know how, when you reach the end of a page in a notebook, your hand starts dangling off the bottom of the page? And this makes it increasingly difficult to write, let alone write legibly? And the problem only gets worse the thicker the notebook – and thus the higher the drop off? Q&A a Day has that, and then some: since the book’s so ridiculously small, my palm starts dangling just halfway down. Not good.

And the lines! They’re so tiny! I did a side-by-side comparison with my current wide-ruled notebook, and the lines in Q&A a Day look to be half the size. According to the internets, wide ruled paper has 8.7 mm spacing compared to 7.1 mm for college ruled – making the lines in Q&A a Day significantly thinner than even college ruled. People with manual dexterity issues (or big and bubbly handwriting) need not apply.

I predict that I’ll use this journal anyway, because the idea is aces; but each morning, as I answer the question of the day, I shall silently curse the book’s designer for ruining an otherwise awesome journal.

On the positive side, Q&A a Day is a handsome, attractive book. The cover has an earthy, cardboard feel that I really like, and the cover design is pretty swanky too. I just wish it was a few inches larger on either side. Someone make this happen please?

(This review is also available on Blogging for Books, Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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