Why You Need a Reading Journal

Sometimes referred to as book journals, reading journals have quickly become my favourite way to track my reading that I’ve ever tried. When I realised that even though I could look at my shelves and see the books I had read, I could hardly remember anything about them, I decided I needed to change that. I started by writing down the titles and authors of the books I read in the back of an old notebook, but that was not enough. I wanted to capture how each book made me feel, write something about it to cement the memory of it in my mind and distinguish it from the other books I’ve read.

That’s when I found reading journals, something that appealed to me far more than the bullet journal (which I had tried but saw little reason to keep up with). All over social media like YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest alike, you can find a wide range of journals made by all manner of readers to track, display, rate and celebrate the books they read. But maybe you don’t know what reading journals are typically for, and you want to know more before you dive in yourself.

What is a reading journal?

First and foremost, a reading journal is whatever you make it. They are a great way to keep track of observations, thoughts, or anything book-related that you encounter in your reading life. Whatever you want to write down, you can and if you get stuck, there is plenty of inspiration online for what you can do with yours.

Having an affinity for physically writing things down, tracking my reading digitally has never been much fun for me, but that’s not to say that it isn’t entirely possible to keep a reading journal in a Word document, on your notes app, or on popular organisation apps like Notion. Whatever works for you. It should not be a chore, but a fun, effective way to make reading more organised and memorable.

What can you do with a reading journal?

There is an endless number of things to do with a reading journal as your imagination is the only limit. However, here are a 5 ideas to get you started:

Record your thoughts and feelings

One of the best and most important things you can do with a reading journal is to write about what you have read. There is no rule on how you do this, just a strong suggestion that if you are going to keep a reading journal, this is what you should include in it at the very least. You can write bulleted notes, detailed paragraphs or even draw pictures to reflect on characters, plot lines, writing styles or whatever else piques your interest as you read a novel.

These thoughts can become the beginnings of a review, useful points to remember for a discussion with a book club or a friend, or they can remain personal, it’s up to you.

Track how much you’ve read

In your reading journal, you can track the number of pages you’ve read, the number of books you read per month and ultimately the number of books you read in a year. If you wanted to, you could even create a chart to help you track how many days you read in a year, but if this is too tedious for you, it’s not necessary.

Keep track of your reading goals

It’s always nice to make some goals so that you can make reading a priority and having them written down somewhere is the best way to keep yourself accountable and ensure you always know what you’re aiming for. The goals you make are entirely up to you, and they may be based on anything from the number of books you want to read to the genres you would like to read more of.

Note down recommendations

If you’re a reader who either knows a lot of other readers or spends time online or in bookshops, you probably come across a lot of books you would like to read. Having them written down somewhere is a great way to ensure you read the books you’re interested in rather than just picking something shiny or new that you’ve barely had time to decide you like.

It can help keep your reading focused and prevent you from impulse buying if you write the book recommendations down and ruminate over them first.

Have all your bookish content in one place

From anticipated releases to the amount of horror you’ve read in a year, you can put anything to do with your reading life in your journal. Anything goes. You might keep lists of your favourite books, your favourite book covers, books you really didn’t like, and books you want to get rid of. Whatever you find joy in keeping track of, you can put it in there. It’s entirely up to you, which brings me to my final point.

Make it your own

Ultimately, your reading journal belongs to you and whatever you think about while you’re reading a book, organising your shelves, or browsing a bookshop, you can house it in your reading journal. If you want to add stickers, receipts, or paintings to your reading journal, you can. Whatever excites you or makes you want to continue reading and fill up page after page in your journal is the best thing you can do with it.

The most important thing to remember, especially if you find yourself scrolling through the aesthetically pleasing journals on Pinterest, is that what your journal looks like is not the most important thing about it. If you’re a little artistic and you want to push the boat out, go for it, but all you really need is a lined, blank, or dotted journal, a writing implement, and a few books to read.

Whether you consider yourself creative or not, I dare you to dabble in the world of reading journalling. There’s no need to share your journal with anyone at all, you can keep it totally personal, or share it with others online if that’s what you enjoy. Reading journals is what you make of them and at their core, are just a great way to keep a record of and organise your reading.

Do you track your reading? If so, I’d love to know how!

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