Keeping a Reading Journal

Last year, I shared about Commonplace notebooks and reading journals. And recently, I shared how keeping a reading journal can enhance your reading life. I’ve noticed that for me, sometimes reading and writing about a book work together. For example, I took some time this weekend to write more about the books I’ve read in January and as I was writing about David Copperfield, I noticed that I was processing my thoughts about the book even more while I was writing. Right when I finished reading the book, I needed time to think about it…time to decide what I thought about the book, time to think about themes and characters and decisions characters made. Yes, I do this while I’m reading; but I find that sometimes there are some books I need more time after I finish reading them to just process the books more. My reading journal sometimes helps with that.


So what do I put in my reading journal? Last year, I actually created my own reading journal printables that I used and I kept them all in a binder. This year, I’m keeping it simple by using a good ‘ole basic notebook, binder, and my book reading log printable. (You can grab a free book reading log I created HERE.)

Here’s what I did. First, I printed out my book log and also the reading challenge pages from the free reading kit I received from Modern Mrs. Darcy. I grabbed my binder, put my notebook in first and my reading log next. This is the same binder that has all my pages from last year’s reading journal; so a simple tab divider keeps them separate. In my notebook, the first couple of pages are for me to jot down titles of books I’d like to read. Then after that, I  glued in the blank reading challenge pages for me to log the books I read for that. Next, I created a pocket and this is where I keep the reading challenge pages I printed off that have the various book title options I have jotted down for each category. It’s also handy to have a little pocket to put miscellaneous papers in as well. If you just want to use a binder, you could just add in a couple of page protectors to use as pockets to hold papers.

From there, it’s just blank paper for me to jot down notes for the books I’m reading. At this point, I keep the notes in the notebook until I’ve finished reading and writing about the book. Then when I’m done, I tear out the pages, type up my notes, print it, then put it in the binder. Pretty simple. And extremely inexpensive!


What kinds of things could you write about books in your reading journal? You can keep it simple by just jotting down notes about the books you are reading. Or you can include a number of different things. There’s no one right way to keep a reading journal. 🙂 I will, though, share with you some things I typically include in my journal.

Book Information

I like to write down a few basic pieces of information about the book:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Genre
  • Pages

I usually write all of this at the top of the paper. It’s handy to have all this information written down, especially if it’s a book you checked out at the library and therefore don’t have a copy of the book yourself. If you want to recommend the book to someone, you’ll have all the pertinent information handy. Some other basic information you can include are the Publisher and the Publishing Date. You could jot down if this book was recommended and who it was recommended by. Also, you can include the date you started reading the book and the date when you finished the book. I log these dates on my book reading log; but I decided to also add this in my basic book information section in my journal.


This really is the main point of the journal….getting your thoughts about the book down on paper. In my journal you will find phrases and sentences, page numbers, character names, and more as I jot down anything from who different characters are while I’m reading (which is extremely helpful with books that introduce a lot of characters at once!), to page numbers for quotes I like, to thoughts I have about something from what I’ve read. Oftentimes, I won’t actually take the time to write out quotes while I’m reading. I will just jot down the page number and then go back after I’ve finished reading and write out the quote(s). But other times, I do stop and write the quotes down right then and there.So as you can see, I include a variety of things in my notes. These are just things *I* include. Your notes are just that:  *your* notes. Include the things *you* want to include. 🙂

Short Summary/Book Review

One of the things I’m working on this year is writing up short summaries of the books I’m reading. I’m trying to work on crafting short, simple overviews. However, you might like to do a more in-depth book review. Both of these are great things to include in your reading journal. What’s interesting is that even this can help in processing the book.


You could stop every so often and do a written narration of what you’ve just read. Basically, a written narration is telling back what you’ve just read in your own words but you do so in writing. This is not the same as writing down your thoughts about the book.


These are just a few simple suggestions of what you can include in your reading journal. Remember, there’s no one right way to keep a reading journal. It is *your* journal. 😉

If you keep a reading journal, I’d love to hear what things you include in it!


This and That – January 14, 2017

January is so fun because many people are writing about reading challenges and/or what books they might read for the year. I’m always looking for good books to read; so I love to see what books people are planning to read. I also enjoy seeing what others have to say about the books they’ve already read. Of course, this means that my to-read list just keeps growing! 😉


I decided not to do a separate post about which of my blog posts was most popular in 2016 but instead just mention it today. This is my blog post that got the most views in 2016:

Keeping a Commonplace Notebook

My Notebooks

When it comes to reading, I am a highlighter. I highlight in books a lot. But I also keep a commonplace book or what can be called a reading notebook. Actually, I keep two notebooks. One for only quotes…where I write down quotes from things I’m reading (books, articles, blog posts, etc.)…things I want to remember…things that stand out to me. And then I keep another notebook where I write quotes along with jotting down notes, writing out my thoughts, and sometimes writing summaries about what I’m reading…… READ MORE


Using a bullet journal is something I have yet to try. It seems to be the big thing right now in journaling. I’m intrigued. Are you interested in bullet journaling? Are you already using a bullet journal and would like to learn how to use it as a reading journal? On January 18th, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy is teaching an online class called “Bullet Journaling for Book Lovers”. She’ll be talking about the basics of bullet journaling, how to use bullet journaling to enhance your reading life, and more. To find out more, stop by her blog and read her post Bullet journaling for book lovers.

Do any of you use a bullet journal? Do you use it with your reading?


I’m off and running with the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge. I’ve already completed two books so far. Here’s what I’m currently reading:

Robert Frost Poems
The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (this is one I started in 2016 but never finished)

What are you currently reading?

Ways to Enhance Your Reading Life This Year (Plus Free Printables)

It’s no secret that I love books. I have books everywhere….on my desk, in the kitchen on a shelf, in the living room, on the table next to my bed, and of course on the multiple bookshelves we have. Between my youngest daughter and myself, we read a lot of books.

I’ve noticed that there are some things that have really enhanced my reading life. Among those things are:

  • Tracking the books I read
  • Keeping a Reading Journal


Reading Life Graphic.jpg

Tracking the Books You Read

Until last year, I wasn’t so great at tracking the books that I read. So one of my goals last year, along with trying to complete a reading challenge, was to be more intentional about keeping a list of the books I read. And you know what I found? Keeping a list of the books I read throughout the year really enhanced my reading life. How? Because it helped me see not only how many books I read (which actually surprised me!), but also it reflected the variety of books I read as well. And truly, there’s something to being able to look back at all the books you’ve read. It feels like a sense of accomplishment somehow.

Also, if you want to read more, it’s a good chance that keeping a list of what you are reading will actually encourage you to read more. So this year, if you want to enhance your reading life, start with keeping a list of the books you read.

Keeping a Reading Journal

I have kept a reading journal for quite awhile now; but I don’t always write about every single book I read. I do regularly write quotes in my commonplace notebook. The times I have jotted down things I loved or didn’t like about a book, the times I made a note of my opinion of a book or wrote a summary…I am so glad I did because it just added even more to my reading of that book.

“What we write, we remember. What we summarize in our own words becomes our own.”

From The Well-Educated Mind – pg. 35

If you want to add another component that will enhance your reading life, start a reading journal. It can be simple or it can be more indepth. It’s up to you. I hear bullet journals are great for this too. I hope to do another post soon where I’ll talk about what you can journal about in your reading journals. In the meantime, feel free to check out THIS POST I wrote awhile back.

Want to give these ideas a try? I’ve created two different reading logs that you can download to help you begin enhancing your reading life by tracking the books you read.

Does the thought of keeping a reading journal feel a bit overwhelming? Then Book Reading Log A is the one for you! I’ve included a small space for each book entry where you can make a few brief comments or notes about the book. Sometimes it helps to start off by keeping it simple. You can always write more if you want. Right?

If you plan to keep a reading journal and prefer a reading log with out a section for comments, then you can download Book Reading Log B. It is simply a reading log to keep track of all the books you read with no section for comments.

Choose which Book Reading Log you prefer, download it, and print off as many pages as you need. The first page of both logs has the title on it and the second page doesn’t. I created both pages because I like to have a title on the first page but not on all the subsequent pages I print out.   🙂

2017 Book Reading Log A (With Comments Section)

2017 Book Reading Log B (Without Comments Section)

Happy reading!