• Bookish Life

    How to Keep a Book Journal

    Have you ever wanted to start a book journal? I’ve always thought the idea was intriguing and I did keep one once upon a time. After starting book journaling a few weeks ago, I’ve decided that it’s probably the best thing ever! Well, next to Harry Potter. Anyway, if you’ve ever been interested or you are ready to take the plunge into this rabbit hole, I hope this post about my reading journal sparks some inspiration in you.

    Disclaimer: This post is completely bookish and nerdy. If neither of those things appeals to you, then feel free to skip this read. Book lovers, read on!

    What is a book journal?

    reading journal quote

    Short answer: a notebook you keep a record of all the books you’ve read. Long answer: continue reading this post and get all the details on what a book journal is or can be for you.

    I started my book journal because it’s a bit nostalgic for me and I also like to keep track of what books I’ve started and finished or ones that I’ve abandoned. In middle school and high school I kept a “book journal”. I used quotes there because it wasn’t too fancy. A spiral bound school notebook did the trick for me. But somewhere along the way, I figured I didn’t need it anymore so I trashed it! Ugh! It would be so interesting to see what my 12 to 16-year-old self was reading. I kinda remember what I was into, but not really. I’m sure all the info is stashed on some library account somewhere because let’s face it, free books. But I have no idea how to track that down or if they would still have my info on file.

    I thought that now would be a really good time to start the habit back up again. Mostly because I need proof for my 35-year-old self that I did read books when my boys were 5 and under. I’ve also been really intrigued by the notion that you should track what you don’t finish. I never thought of that before but it’s almost more interesting to me than what I did read. It gives me a better picture of what I really enjoy reading. And I just like to be sassy and hate a book that everyone else is talking about and loves.

    Why don’t I just use Goodreads?

    Because I hate it. It’s clunky and ugly, and I can’t figure out the interface. I would rather spend hours writing out my TBR with a pen and notebook than spend hours searching (and getting distracted, because, internet) on Goodreads. On a more important note, what if Goodreads got shut down and you lost your TBR forever??? A tragedy I tell you. Keeping my reading records in my book journal is way more accessible than Goodreads. No internet connection required!

    Here’s a peek inside my reading journal:

    reading journal cover

    Here’s a short list of the things I keep track of in my book journal.

    • TBR lists: I keep these separated by genre because I know what genres I tend to gravitate toward. If I’m looking for my next great read you’ll find me perusing my historical fiction list. I used the website alibris.com to categorize my books by genre. I tried Goodreads but it wasn’t specific enough. Technically most of my TBR is fiction so I needed to be a bit more specific. I may be switching to bookdepository.com because it’s prettier and faster. Alibris.com load times are awful and it’s not my internet speed.
    • Reading Challenges: I have participated in 2 reading challenges this year and I’m starting a third today (August 1, 2018). They are the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge, The O.W.L.s by Book Roast, and the N.E.W.T.s also by Book Roast. I’ll link all of these great resources down in the P.S. of this post.
    • Books Read: My 2016 and 2017 lists are incomplete because I know I didn’t write down everything I read. I also have a 2018 Books Read list that looks way more impressive than it actually is.
    • Books I’ve Bought: I don’t have anything listed because I haven’t felt like going through my shelves trying to remember what I’ve bought in the last 7 months. #lazy
    • Books I’ve Tossed:  I do occasionally go through my shelves and get rid of books I know I won’t read or that I won’t read again. I might not add this collection. It just depends if I toss any books the remainder of this year.
    • Quotes: I have written down some quotes from a good book I’ve been reading. I’m not sure I’m going to keep doing this because it’s not neat and tidy like a list. I may be the only one that this bothers but I don’t like big blocks of text in my dotted journals. It drives me crazy. It just looks messy and I have a hard time knowing what I’m supposed to be reading. It’s quite a traumatic experience. I don’t seem to have this problem with lined journals. I can write lines and lines of text in those. Does anyone else have this problem with dotted journals?

    Here’s a close up of my 2018 Book List.

    I wanted to show you the signifiers I use. I learned these from Anne Bogel of modernmrsdarcy.com. I’ll link the class below.

    book journal signifiers

    I use a bullet (•) to add a book to my list. This usually means that I’ve started it. Then I write the name of the book and place a comma. The author’s name goes next followed by parentheses with the date I started the book. I leave the parentheses open until I’ve finished the book. When I finish it I write the date, close the parentheses and that’s it.

    I occasionally mark whether the book was hardcover or paperback but I’m learning that this isn’t really useful information for me to write down. The stars (*) are for books I absolutely love. Typically these are books that I think about for several days or weeks after I’ve read them. If I didn’t finish a book I draw a circle next to the title. For instance, you can see that I didn’t finish Behold the Dreamers. This is a super simple way for me to keep track of the books I’ve been reading.

    Note: For anyone that Bullet Journals, the systems I use in my reading journal will look very similar to the Bullet Journal system.

    That’s all I’ve got so far. I just started this system in July and I’m adding to it as I go. The best thing I like about this way of book journaling is how customizable it is. Just like the Bullet Journal system I can tailor it to my life and the way I like to journal. The most exciting thing about this journal is all the things I’m going to learn about my reading life. Just as we are all different so will our reading lives be different from everyone else’s.

    Are you a reader who would like to keep track of all the bookish things your heart desires? This method of book journaling is an excellent way to do it! I found out that a simple “book journal” search on YouTube yielded a lot of great book journal videos. It shocked me how much in-depth people get with their book journals. Charts and graphs galore! Now that I think about it, YouTube gave me the best results for learning how to book journal. I didn’t have much luck on Pinterest.

    Happy Reading,



    If you want to learn exactly how I book journal you should check out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s one hour class on book journaling. I paid for it and immediately watched it twice in a row. It is worth all of the $15 I paid for it. I plan on watching it again soon so I get even more out of it. 

    On Instagram, you can search for these hashtags for inspiration: #bookstagram #bookjournal #bujoforbooklovers

    Here is the link for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge.

    For more Bullet Journal help please check out this blog post from Modern Mrs. Darcy.

    This isn’t particularly book journal related, but if anyone is interested in the O.W.L.s or the N.E.W.T.s (insert Harry Potter fangirl here) you can get all the details from this video and this video. I also recommend finding @book_roast on Instagram and @MagicalReadthn on Twitter. I absolutely adore her and I love that she puts all this time and effort into something so nerdy!