The Evolution of My Reading Journal

Over the last few years, I’ve tried a number of different approaches to a reading journal. I’ve kept a commonplace/reading journal for a long time now, where I simply write out favorite quotes/passages from the books I read. But I’d never logged my books until several years ago.

So, the first year I began logging the books I read, I kept a reading journal separate from my commonplace/reading journal. That first year, I decided to go with a binder. I created a title page and then a simple log sheet. I had a tab for the log sheets and a tab for any reading challenge printouts. It was simple; nothing fancy.

2016 Reading Journal

What I learned from this journal:  The binder isn’t very portable and I prefer a size I can take with me in my purse if I want to.


The next year, I didn’t use anything formal. I just kept a running list of the books read on a sheet of paper and kept a printout for the reading challenge I participated in that year. I then simply added those into the binder I already had from the previous year in a separate tab.

What I learned from this approach:  I prefer having a notebook. Simple is great but this was TOO simple and not enough information for my liking. 🙂


In 2018, I got more creative. I took a simple, inexpensive graph notebook and did a more bullet-journal style reading journal. I made my own cover and pasted it on the front. Then I did some fancier pages on the inside. I created an index, pages for any book clubs and reading challenges, kept a genre tracker, page for favorite books of that year, a two-page spread for my TBR, and then I kept monthly logs of the books started and finished. Sometimes I even wrote out summaries of individual books on separate pages.


What I learned from this journal:  I need thicker paper. The gel pens tended to bleed through the paper in this regular notebook.


Last year (2019), I went with a pre-made reading journal. It was quick and easy, not to mention pretty. But I found over the course of the year, I didn’t really use a lot of it. I loved having the list formatted pages at the beginning where you could list the title and it’s genre. It was a chart format. But the individual book pages had a lot of stuff I just didn’t use.

2019 Reading Journal

I deconstructed the journal and had it bound.

2019 Reading Journal (2)

This is a sample blank page from the journal.

What I learned from this journal:  I don’t like having lots of space with stuff I just don’t use.


So when I thought about what I wanted to do for my reading journal this year, I looked back over all the previous journals (with the exception of the year I only kept a list) and decided there was a common theme in the types of information I consistently kept a log of with each book. I also tried to look at what I learned from each one and compile all that in one journal.

I learned I liked having a page for each book in case I wanted to jot down notes. But I also liked having a line by line chart of just the titles for a quick at-a-glance look at my books. I enjoyed the minimal creativeness of my previous homemade journal of 2018. So I decided to go back to using a blank canvas instead of a pre-made journal. I can incorporate exactly what I want in my own blank journal and can add in any creative elements I want (I’m not really an overly creative person. But I do get inspired sometimes with creative ideas. LOL)

So here’s a peak at my 2020 Reading Journal. It’s just an inexpensive Exceed journal from Wal-Mart. It’s dotted like the bullet-journal style and has thick pages. It’s a smaller size that easily fits into my purse but is also hardback so that the pages are more protected. And bonus:  it has two bookmarks which is really nice!


I put my title on a free graphic background and printed it on sticker paper for my cover.


2020 Reading Journal (2)

This is the first few pages:  an Index, so I can easily find a book I have logged.


2020 Reading Journal (3)

Next are pages to log in line by line format (title and author only) of each book I read and finish. It will be a numbered list to make it easy to see how many books I’ve read at a quick glance. This list will only be books I finished reading.


Reading Journal Projects Page

Next up is a section where I can keep track of any reading projects I am taking part in.


2020 Reading Journal (4)

Finally, the rest is for individual pages for each book. Here’s a sample of one of the pages. I like to log Title, Author, Publication Date, Pages, and Genre. Then I log start and finish dates as well. This year, I am trying to be more consistent in giving star ratings to my books so I plan to include that as well. It’s pretty simple. I’ve put a piece of pretty washi-tape after the book info. to divide it from where I jot down any notes. You can see that I have the top corners of the pages numbered.


And there ya have it! My 2020 reading journal.

Are you keeping a reading journal this year? What information do you like to keep in your reading journal?