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!


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