Do you ever find that you’ve read a great book but can’t remember enough of the details to articulate a meaningful recommendation? Is that because you are reading so much you can’t keep everything straight? How do you keep track?
In the past, I would flag pages or passages I wanted to remember for a book club discussion or jot down a few comments on a scrap piece of paper for said reason. But I didn’t have an organized way for keeping up with my thoughts and feelings about a book except a brief (pitiful) one liner in an excel spreadsheet I started shortly after college when I stated reading again for pleasure. The one liners in my spreadsheet were too vague; I’d say something like, “recommend for book club, I hated it, waste of time, loved, very generic, but concise I suppose. After years of listing what I’d read, looking back, I couldn’t provide enough information on the book to remember all the things I might have enjoyed or what I might have disliked. With the exception of a few books I loved, but sometimes the details would still be a little hazy.
I didn’t write many book reviews with the exception of a few rants on Amazon and Goodreads, both of which I’ve had for many years. I thought I didn’t have much to say about what I was reading (with a few exceptions) so Goodreads became a way to keep track of what I read each year (and want to read). But all that changed when I started chatting books over on bookstagram (and yes here on the blog too).
The book journal was born from a few pages in my bullet journal about 2 years ago; there simply wasn’t enough space in a few pages to record what I wanted there. After several months of trial and error: figuring out what books to record and how, I decided every book I read would have an entry of at least one page.
Each month, I create a page dividing the entries from the previous month. With some decorative washi tape and a pen, I write down books on my TBR for the month, along with literary and book publishing dates I want to remember, which helps me plan book posts for the blog and on bookstagram.
Book journal entry (page layout)
- Small Stock image of book
- Number of pages
- Date finished
- Audiobooks hours (if applicable)
*some books don’t get a rating if I dislike them, it’s just a blank or a zero. Five (5) is my highest rating.
This is the format for my book entries. The first page for the book includes the information above along with a brief review of what I liked or didn’t like and a few pages of my favorite quotes and passages. Sometimes the quotes come before the review and that’s fine too.
Journaling about what I’m reading is helpful with book discussions, making recommendations, and writing meaningful reviews. I don’t copy what I’ve written in the journal, but journaling helps me process my thoughts and the notes help refresh my memory when I look back at the entry later.
I’m on my second book journal covering my 2018 reads to date. My first finished journal pictured in the first photo to the far left, covers my 2017 reads. In case you couldn’t tell, in addition to books and tea, I also like journals. When I go to stores like TjMaxx or Marshall’s, I often find pretty lined journals with fun quotes on the outside in the stationery section, which seem perfect for my book journaling activities.
So in short, I’ve found a fun way to chronical my reading. I know many people just use Goodreads or another electronic method for doing so.
But if you’re like me and write this down, what method do you use to keep up and remember what you’ve read? I’d love to hear from you.