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One of the best things to happen to my reading-life was a book journal. I find immense satisfaction in finishing a book and recording it in my tracker. Not only is it a great way to document my reads and goals from year to year, seeing those books listed out on a page helped motivate me to read more and to try new genres.
While you may find it easier to track reads on something easily searchable (like a word document, excel spreadsheet, or a website like Goodreads), there’s also something really fun about a physical, paperbound journal. Not only is it more personal, you can also get really creative with it.
Ready to give it a try? Here are some four, easy steps to creating your book journal.
1. What type of journal should I pick?
So, how does one create a book journal? Starting off, you’ll first want to decide how you want to record your reads. Let’s start by looking at some journal options:
- Pre-Designed Book Journals: There are a ton of pre-designed, book journals out there. The benefit of these is that they’re simple to use and ready to go. The downside is that you may not be able to customize it as fully as a blank journal. You may find that there’s wasted space you don’t use, or that it doesn’t have all the questions you’d like. Make sure you preview what’s offered and decide what you’re looking for (see tip 2) before purchasing.
Examples of pre-designed book journals include: Read Harder (A Reading Log) from Book Riot, The Book Lover’s Journal, or this gorgeous looking Reading Journal from Kunitsa Co.
- A lined journal: These are your basic lined journals available at most bookstores, stationery stores, or online. This is what I personally use for tracking my reading. The benefits are that you can fully customize the journal, and it’s super easy for writing. This is probably the simplest option when it comes to creating a custom book journal.
- A dot journal: Dot journals are even more flexible when it comes to designing your own book journal. If you’re looking to include charts, graphs, or a “bullet journal” style book log, the dots make for easy customization.
- A journal with blank pages: If you love drawing, collage, or want to try an even more creative approach to your book journal, then blank pages may be the way to go!
2. Decide on a review format.
If you’re customizing a journal, now’s the time to decide what review format works for you. It can be as detailed or as simple as you like — whatever helps you track your reading!
Here’s are a list of things to potentially include in each review. Decide what’s important for your book journal:
- book title
- author’s name
- date read
- star rating
- page number
- personal thoughts
- re-read or first time
- audiobook, hardcover, e-reader, etc
- why you chose the book
- where you got the book from
- how much you spent on the book
- is it a series?
- other books by this author that you’d like to read
- anything else you feel is important
3. Create the layout.
Now that you’ve picked a journal style and decided what you want to include, it’s time to lay it out.
- One line per book: This is how I track my reading. Using a lined journal, I record one book per line. This means that I limit my format to book title, author’s name, and date read. I’ll also include the notation “RR” on the side if the book is a re-read. This option is easy because you don’t have to prep the pages in advance, simply write it down!
- Multiple books per page: This option allows for more flexibility. You’ll have extra room to add in more details, including some personal thoughts on the read. You can add as many or as few books as works for you. You can use different coloured pens, create charts, draw stars, etc. to personalize it further.
- One book per page: This option allows you to review your book in greater detail, or to get more creative and add drawings, stickers, etc. Use markers or different coloured pens to make sections of the page pop.
4. Create “special” pages.
Special pages are fun ways to keep track of other reading-related activities or ideas. In addition to tracking your current reads, you could also create space for things like:
- your to-be-read pile
- how often you’re reading (habit tracker)
- books that specifically fit a challenge
- books in a series
- your reading goals for the year
- reading stats
Above is an example of a fun way to track reads for specific challenges. I created this bookshelf on a giant, blank notebook. Each of the 52 books on the shelf were eventually filled in with my 52 Book Club — 2020 Challenge reads.
Below is an example of a habit tracker or a reading log. This is a fun extra page to keep in your journal because it allows you to quickly see how frequently (and for how long) you’re reading. This is a great motivator to sneak in a few extra minutes of reading wherever you can!
There are so many different types of special pages to choose from. Find what works for you and have fun with it!
Don’t forget to think about what kind of PENS you’ll use in your brand new journal. Different tips, ink types, or colours can go a long way in creating the perfect book journal. Here are some of my personal favourites:
- This .38mm, gel-ink ballpoint pen from MUJI.
- These Tombow brush pens.
- These hyper fine 0.25 ballpoint pens from Pilot.
- This colourful set of Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens.
So there you have it. A simple start to your new reading adventures!
This is just one of the many different types of book journals and reading trackers out there. Find what works for you and most importantly, have fun!
Have any other book journal recommendations! Be sure to drop your suggestions, tips, or ideas in the comments to share with other readers!