Book Journaling

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.

Monthly Divider Page

Book journal entry (page layout)

  • Small Stock image of book
  • Genre
  • Number of pages
  • Rating*
  • 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.

Entry Page for Moby Dick

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.

Published by booksbythecup

Lover of good books and tea

28 thoughts on “Book Journaling

  1. I really enjoyed this post! After you and I chatted about this a few months ago, I started keeping track of pages and hours spent reading/listening. But this inspires me to want to expand upon that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked it. I’m always curious how others keep the track and remember what they’re reading. I find its very helpful (like one book you asked me about) to go back and offer something specific on the book

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  2. I love this so much, I would love to include these pages in my journal and look back at them in the future to see which books I enjoyed! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely idea! I do jot down rough notes, but purely for the purpose of reviewing and they’re way too messy and badly written to want to keep. I guess my blog is my book journal – I’ve reviewed pretty much every book I’ve read for over five years, but I do wish I had some kind of record of what I’ve read during my lifetime before blogging. Your journals will be a lovely thing to look back on when you’re old and grey (though I’ve found grey is optional… šŸ˜‰ )

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    1. I’ve been enjoying the experience. Something about pen to paper makes such an impression on me. I’ve always been a note taking type (even now as an adult) so to do this with my books has been such a great experience. I suppose you’re right, you’ve been blogging and reviewing books for a while so it must be satisfying to look back over your book reviews with many great (and funny, can you say Moby Dick) memories. Sometimes I wish I’d done a better job of keeping up with all my reads but live and learn right? šŸ˜‰

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  4. Love this post L…Iā€™m so unorganized when it.l comes to making notes and reading books. This post was so helpful. Iā€™m going to try some of these mentioned. The stock image idea was so adorable

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I will let you know how I decide to keep track of my thoughts! Iā€™m battling something which looks very much like a reading slump

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  5. Omg looking at the pictures of your journal make me feel so peaceful. I always forget important things that happened in a book, or things that I want to elaborate on in my reviews, and I hate dog earing pages if I’m reading a physical book so this is an excellent idea!!

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    1. It’s been very helpful! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this process. I love that I can pull it out and reference my initial thoughts and feelings especially if I want to refresh my memory on the book to share or recommend to a friend. I even make notes for audio and ebooks although I can use the export notes features on my kindle.

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  6. You take such gorgeous pictures, and your handwriting is like calligraphy! I don’t really keep a book about the books that I’ve read. I started a Goodreads account in 2008, and I keep it updated, but mostly I’m reposting things that I’ve written on my blog. I started my blog in 2013. I think I mentioned in a previous post on your blog that when I read I highlight things that stand out to me for one reason or another. Maybe it’s funny, maybe it’s poorly written, maybe it’s a plot point that I don’t want to forget, but I have the type of memory that allows me to remember why I highlighted without having to write that down. I know that’s a privilege that I use as a book reviewer, and that I would have to find other tools if I wasn’t able to do that. There is a book that was published recently that was written by a librarian and about books she’s read. It’s called Dear Fahrenheit 451. I only enjoyed about half of it, but I can see the appeal of writing a letter to a book because writing a book review can feel like constructing an essay, whereas a letter is much more personal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you very much. I want to Ellen calligraphy one day but I digress. I do remember you sharing that about your highlights. What a great privilege to remember so much. I guess because I never had a method for annotation (we had that chat too) so I mark things for various reasons.

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  7. What a lovely post! I love journals too! I keep a book journal (have since 2001-ish?) but not nearly as detailed as yours! Just a few notes about the finished book. But i love looking back through it and seeing what I’ve read! I’m on my second one now.

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    1. Thanks. I’m afraid I spend lots of time in the stationery section of many stores so I often find nice journals but this has been a fun way to use them. Book journaling has become a memorable experience and I enjoy looking back at the books I’ve read. Feels a little like a reading scrapbook sometimes. šŸ˜€

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  8. I gravitate to pretty journals, but alas, I can barely write with my disability. I’ve found that writing the blog post almost immediately after reading–even if it goes unedited or unpublished for a while–really helps me remember book details!

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  9. Such a lovely post! I also love pretty journals, but then I’m frightened to write in them! šŸ¤¦ā€ā™€ļø
    I’ve been experimenting recently with keeping track of my thoughts while I’m reading. It’s too early yet to say how successful this will be, but if I could turn it into something as beautiful and creative as you are doing, I’d be very happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s part of the fun, writing in them! šŸ˜†. It’s just a matter of deciding what you want to put in them.

      I’d love to see/hear more about what you are doing to keep up with your reading too! It would be good to “compare” notes, yes? šŸ˜‰ I have been thinking about a few more things I’d like to add to my entries for some of the books but I don’t want it to become too cumbersome and make it feel like a chore.

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  10. Now that’s an idea, really interresting !! Thank you for sharing xx

    Idontknow, I usually just remember most of the book I read; or atleast used to. Just to make sure now though, I’ll add some things onto my goodreads update after each reading session and work my review while im still reading. Which i’d put it right onto my review right away.

    Ps; your pictures are so lovely !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That’s a good idea to make notes as you go along in goodreads. I hadn’t thought of that.

      I typically keep some paper in the book to make notes if I don’t have my journal. Its been a fun experience.

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