Reading Journal: Tips & Ideas

For the first time last year, I kept a reading journal throughout the year to tracking what I read, reading challenges, books I purchased, and upcoming releases I wanted. I loved having a place to track my reading habits, and after figuring out what worked and what didn’t, I made a few changes and started a new, fresh reading journal for 2019.

Since I enjoyed this project so much, I thought I’d share some tips and ideas with you, in case you want to keep your own reading journal!

The Journal

You can use any journal you want for a reading journal. There actually are some cute pre-made reading journals available, but none of the ones I found really fit what I was looking for — so I decided to make my own. In this case, any blank journal will work.

I use a spiral-bound notebook, simply because that’s my preference for functionality, and I use one with dot grid paper. Dot grids have become my journal preference, because they have more freedom than lined journals, but still help me keep fairly straight lines.

What’s Inside

I like starting with a table of contents, just because I’m a dork and it makes me feel Fancy — but it does also help me flip to any given section more easily if I know where it’s found. The pages in my journal did not come numbered, but I did that myself by hand. Here’s what I included in this year’s journal:

  • A-Z Challenge
  • Reading Goals
  • Book Club
  • Book Club Ideas
  • Wish List
  • 2019 New Releases
  • Book Haul
  • Reading Log

Let me break down what each of those sections entails.

A-Z Challenge

I don’t love most reading challenges because (1) I rarely have a hard time choosing what to read and (2) I find them kind of limiting for my reading habits. But the A-Z challenge is a fun one I’ve done for a couple years now, and it’s simple.

Just try to read at least one book starting with each letter of the alphabet. Participles like “the” and “an” don’t count; and the letters X and Z can appear anywhere in the title, and don’t have to be the first letter.

Some people like choosing books to complete these letters; I just fill it out as I go. Last year, I managed to get all the letters except for Y!

Reading Goals

Here’s where I write down my own personal reading goals for the year. I talked more about my goals earlier this month, but these can be your own personal choices.

Book Club + Book Club Ideas

I’m in a local book club, so I use the first page to track what book we’ve chosen for each month as the year goes on. The “Book Club Ideas” section is for jotting down titles we’ve brainstormed as potential options for each month’s book.

Wish List

This should be pretty obvious, but these are books I’d like to own. Some are upcoming releases, others are just books I want, but haven’t purchased yet. It’s already filled out with quite a few, but I also left plenty of room to add to the list throughout the year.

2019 New Releases

This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list of new releases, but rather a place for me to track books I’m anticipating for one reason or another. I may or may not preorder these books, but I want to take note of their release — so I jot them down here. I dedicated one page per month.

Book Haul

Last year, I tried to keep track of both book and bookish merch purchases, but it got clunky and difficult to keep a written record of. So this year, I’m just writing down the books I purchase throughout the year. It’s a good way to track spending/book-buying habits, and see what new books I brought into my home over the year.

I dedicated one page per month; the pages are decently sized in this journal, and if I need more than one page to track a given month’s haul, then something is seriously wrong. I DON’T track books sent to me for review or review consideration by publishers; this is only for tracking the books I purchase myself.

Reading Log

This is the main section of my journal — where I track my reading. I know there are websites and apps like Goodreads for tracking this digitally, but I’ve always been an analog girl — so having a physical journal to track this is very satisfying to me.

I write down the book’s title and author, then note the date I start reading and the date I finish reading. I also number the books sequentially — so I can keep track of both how many I read per month, and how many I’ve read year to date. (With the read year-to-date number being in the box, and the read month-to-date number in small parentheses underneath.)

For the comments: Do you keep a reading journal? Share your ideas & tips below!


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