Hey guys! So if you haven’t noticed, I’ve gotten into reading recently. I loved reading when I was a teenager, but university and college impacted my reading levels. I was just so tired from studying all day that I wasn’t very motivated to read. But the combination of finishing school and being in a pandemic has increased the amount of reading I’m doing. I decided to start reviewing books on my blog and my Tiktok. But I realized I needed a better way to keep track of everything. That’s where the idea to have a reading journal came in.
Before I had two ways of tracking my reading. I have a page in my bullet journal where I simply rate the books I’ve read. It’s right beside my page for tv shows. Then after I finish book I write on a sticky note some of my thoughts and put it in the book. From there I would write a blog post. But I felt a void in this system. My notes weren’t quite small and simple. I also wasn’t keeping track of the dates. And finally I like to have physical records of thing (case in point my bullet journal), so I wasn’t satisfied with just digital reviews. So that’s why I decided to create a reading journal.
I’ve seen it mentioned on TikTok before so I decided to do some research. And well it was a little overwhelming. There were so many different ones. Some people like to write notes while they read. There are some premade journals on the market as well. And finally some people are creative and do almost bullet journal like spreads for the reading journal. I debated buying a premade journal but I couldn’t find one that I liked exactly.
Then I had the brilliant idea of just creating my own layout in a notebook. As a notebook hoarder I have a few empty ones lying around. So I grabbed one and look at different layouts and pick and choose what I wanted to include in my.
The first thing I wrote was an index. It’s funny because I don’t use my index in my bullet journal, but I knew it would be important in this reading journal. That way I can look at the index and see what page a book review is, instead of flipping all the pages to find what I’m looking for. It might be easy for me to find what I’m looking for now, but in the future once I have dozens on books in here it might be difficult.
Next I decided to dedicate one page per book/series. I know people have different thoughts on reviewing series. I’m personally team review-series-as-a-whole. I never read one individual book of a series. I prefer to read series all together and will avoid reading a series if all the books aren’t out. And I wouldn’t recommend a series to someone if the last book sucked even if the first book was good. So that’s why in my example Throne of Glass series is one page, similar to how I wrote one book review for the whole series.
So obviously I decided to include the book title and author. Then I included some descriptive information such as genre, length and publication date. That way if I don’t have the physical book with me I can remember certain aspects. This is also helpful to giving recommendations – if someone wants a short fantasy novel I can flip through and find that quickly.
Next I included start and end dates. I have a pretty good memory of when I read books even if I don’t remember the plot lol. My mind works in interesting ways. But I thought the start and end date would be interesting to see how long it took me to get through a book.
Then for ratings I put overall rating as well and excitement and ease. I think that while excitement and ease factor into a book’s overall rating, they can be different. For example I gave Frankenstein a 3/5 for overall but only 2/5 in excitement. A book could be easy to read but not the best book. For example, I read Gimme a Call which is meant for young teens. So it was super easy for me to read, but other factors brought the rating down.
The biggest section is my thoughts. This is where I go in-depth into what I thought. I debated putting in a synopsis section, but then I realized I can easily just Google that if I forget it. Whereas I can’t Google my thoughts about the book if I forget it. So here I just put whatever I think about the book. I talk about plot, character development and relationships, world-building, writing style, themes, etc. This journal is for me so I write whatever I want.
Finally I put a recommend to section. Just because a book is good doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Lots of people only read certain genres or certain subjects. Some people only read YA or adult books, so it’s good to identify if people outside YA or adult could read the novel. This will be helpful to reference back to as well. If someone is like “Oh I’m looking for a book with romance but doesn’t necessarily need to be just a romance book” I can flip through a find that.
So that is the layout of my reading journal. I currently have three books in here that I filled out this weekend. I am excited to use it more and hopefully stick with it. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll update you guys on how it’s working and if I would change anything. Let me know if you have a reading journal and how you use it in the comments below!