Earlier this year my mom surprised me with a few bookish gifts, including a reading journal. I had toyed with the idea of one in the past, but I had decided that’s what Goodreads is for. But when I got that reading journal I began to use it as I read books throughout the year and I love it!
Now I don’t always necessarily write during or after every reading session, but if a thought strikes me about the book that I might want to mention in a review, then I’ll jot it down. When I finish a book, I like to at least write what I thought of it if I didn’t write any other notes. It’s a nice way to keep track of my thoughts of the book, especially since I tend to take a long time to write reviews (and I do need to catch up on those).
Keeping this journal over the past 10 months has made me wish that I had been doing this sooner! I highly recommend that anyone who considers themselves a book nerd should at least try to keep a reading journal as well – especially if you’re a book blogger!
If you’re not sure about keeping a reading journal, here are some reasons why you should seriously consider it.
1. Keep track of what books you read, and when you read them.
I know, that’s what Goodreads is for, but not everyone uses it. Plus, there is always that slight fear of the site somehow going down or it’s just unavailable for a day (which is highly frustrating). If you don’t have Goodreads and you don’t keep a reading journal, how do you know what books you read and when you read them? This happens a lot with some patrons in the library who ask if we have a history of what books they took out so they know if they read them or not.
2. Record your thoughts/feelings accurately.
Have you ever read a book, then a week or so later tried to write a review, but you couldn’t remember your initial reaction to it? Or maybe your thoughts about the book change over time as you process it more – it’d be interesting to go back and see what your first thoughts about the book were. Of course, there are those books that you remember your first reaction to no matter what (and yes, I’m thinking of one right now… actually, two). This helps when you decide to write a proper review and want to accurately talk about how you felt about it.
3. Write down key points to mention in a review.
Again, if you’re a book blogger, keeping a reading journal will really help when you finally sit down to write that review. This way you won’t have to flip through the book for every single thing you want to mention or remember for the review.
4. List your favorite quotes.
We love quotes, and books are full of them. If you write them down in a journal, you can easily access it on a day you want to use it for a status update or reference the book in any way. Again, this will make it easier for reviewing and you want to use a quote from the book in there.
5. Write down questions you have.
You might have questions as you read that will be answered in the book later on, or after you’ve finished. This is good if you’re a part of a book club, in person or online. Maybe it’s one that could only be answered by the author. Writing it down might give you incentive to contact the author some way to ask the questions you have.
6. Keeping track of publication.
Maybe not as important, but if you know when the book was published (assuming you didn’t get it on release day) will help you better understand the time period the author is writing from. This really helps when the author is writing a book about the future and facts don’t line up to what happens when that year comes to pass (because really, where are our hover-cars Back to the Future movies??).
7. Keep a list of books you want to read… eventually.
Again, this journal has a section to write down books I want to read – my ‘Never Ending Reading List.’ I know you can do this on Goodreads as well, but it’s nice to have a hard copy if you can’t get online or if you don’t use Goodreads (you crazy person, you).
8. Writing down when you acquired the book.
This is more for the book buyers here, but have you ever bought a book and didn’t remember when you bought it? You have no idea if you got it the same year it was published or later, and that gets frustrating (it does for me, at least). I don’t do this, but I’m planning on it in the future.
9. To keep track of how much you’ve read.
We book nerds love our Reading Challenges, whether they’re on Goodreads, Instagram, at our libraries, or just a personal challenge. It’s fun to challenge yourself to read so many books in a year and keeping track of the books you read will help you to know just how many you read as well. Some journals might have a challenge meter or if you make your own journal, you can design a meter for yourself!
10. Keep track of books you borrowed and who borrowed yours.
The journal I got has a section for books that I either borrowed from someone or that I lent out to others. This is good if you borrow and lend out books a lot and want to make sure they get back to their proper owners. I know in the past my best friend has kept a book of mine for a few years (which is fine, she’s my best friend), but if you lend them out to someone who isn’t like a sister to you, then you might not ever see it again if you eventually forget they borrowed it.
There’s no right or wrong way to keep a reading journal – it’s yours! Like me, you can use one that it is already set up and all you have to do is jot down your notes and such, or you can use the bullet journal method and take control of your reading journal entirely. I might do this for my next reading journal (because I will need one), but then again I might just want to get a different pre-made journal and try that layout instead. I guess I’ll see what happens.
So I highly encourage you to keep a reading journal if you read a lot of books in a year, and especially if you’re a book blogger. Even if you don’t read that much in a year, it’s fun to look back and see your initial reactions to the books you’ve read.
Do you keep a reading journal? If not, are you considering it?