Hi, everyone! Over the years I’ve been reading my personal reading journal practice has evolved both by conscious design and unconscious influence. I thought I’d take the time to share with you today my favorite methods, designs, and products that I enjoy using to keep track of my reading! I hope to make this a more regular thing as I find designs that seem to work well 🥰
Let me know what works for you, and what your favorite reading journal practice is!
None of this is sponsored, these are just things that have been working for me!
My favorite notebook over the last year has been Archer and Olive’s A5 notebooks. They’re well bound with thick paper and beautiful minimal covers. They come in 160 or 190 page count options, and feature two bookmarks one of which has a lovely metal ampersand flourish at the end (brand logo).
I’m a fan of the dot-grid journals with white paper. I’ve found the dots provide just the right amount of guidelines for charts and straight writing without feeling obtrusive.
The pen I’ve fallen into writing with after much experimentation is the Tombow Fudenosuke hard brush pen, which feels solid but pliable. I have this in a variety of colors, and also the soft tip version for larger calligraphy-style headings.
For bookmarking months and general decoration I use any sort of washi tape from local craft stores.
And finally my splurge is (way too many!) sticker sheets from TheCoffeeMonsterzCO. Her stickers are perfect as decorative additions to basic pages, or as stickers that complement the events/emotions of a day in my daily events notes.
2. Journal Structure
Alright, getting into how I structure my reading journal!
I began this journey wanting to go all out, inspired by gorgeous posts Bullet Journal influencers put up online. That lasted about two months, if that. 😂 I couldn’t be bothered to get out the full set of pens, ruler, etc whenever I started a book. God forbid I attempt to do the thing where you print out the book cover to paste in for each book as well. No, now I know for myself that I need a relatively low effort-high payoff design.
So the journal opening pages I went with are as follows.
2.1. Reading Challenges and New Words
We open up my journal to a place for new words I’ve learned while reading, and a few pages for yearly reading challenges like Goodreads. When I do monthly / couple week long challenges those would go in that particular section, but as a year view I like how this opens. For the challenge view I like the idea of doing fun designs/patterns with the checkboxes to keep it interesting.
I actually already filled one journal, so you’ll notice the challenge design on the right starts at 41 instead of 1 😛
2.2. (BoTM) Subscription Tracker
Flipping the page I have my Book of the Month subscription tracker, but really you could put any yearly subscriptions in here you want to keep a radar on. I have BoTM here so I can see how often I select their monthly book options, what my thoughts are on my picks, etc, so that at the end of a few months to a year I can look back objectively and see if it’s worth it.
2.3. Monthly Divider
Then we get into the monthly sections. This is one place I previously went all-out on, but last couple months I’ve just done bare minimum. I do a washi-tape tab that sticks out to mark the month for convenient flipping (and will stagger these down the page as months progress) and match a washi border to the page right side to make it look a little more polished.
2.4. Monthly Opening
For the month opening I like starting with a copy of the calendar, with upcoming bigger events listed and highlighted. Right now this is small things like dentist, some book releases, wedding prep todos, etc.
We then follow with some basic reading tracking – a list with book name and general information, and then end of month totals. I’ve had trouble sticking to TBRs, so having a blank reading list is helpful for me to keep track of what I ended up picking up. More structured folk could easily alter the list to plan out the month and whether they achieved their goals 🙂 End of month totals can be filled out by looking at the list columns later on, though this month for whatever reason I decided to do it as I go.
2.5. Book Section
Within each month I’ll have multiple book sections. I don’t bookmark these since it’d probably crowd out the month book tabs, and in general I reference the month overviews more than the book sections.
For a given book I’ll begin with the title and author header, then include sections for…
- Expectations – where I give my thoughts and expectations for the book based on its synopsis / hook. Basically, why did I pick this book up and what do I think it’ll cover
- Opening – the opening line(s) for the book. I use these in my review posts so this is a helpful reference so I dont have to flip back through later when writing a post
- Characters – useful for long books with tons of characters, and for spelling and context while writing a review
- Content Warnings – anything I think should be noted as a content warning for readers later
- Would recommend – a yes / no circle whether or not I’d overall recommend the book
2.6. Daily Notes
And finally for daily notes I’ll write the date, do some diary-style notes on how the day went, and then proceed with any reading notes I want to capture.
After finishing a book I’ll go back through it all and write a quick ‘overview’ with a summary of thoughts.
And that’s about it! Again, I hope to make this a more regular post (maybe once every few months) as I find things that do or don’t work for me. Let me know your thoughts, and what your reading journal style is like if you have one! 🙂