I have a lot of books ya’ll. Moving across the country hasn’t stopped me from buying, borrowing, or hoarding books (it’s an art form, don’t judge me). But my earlier confessed plans requires I actually do something with those plans. The best way to accomplish those plans was to combine a few; this way I get more results for my plan making buck. Two of those plans were reading and journaling. I’ve started putting aside more time to read and it’s paying off. Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time keeping track of everything I’ve read so I decided to created a book journal.
Before I share how I’m putting together my book journal, I have to be honest and tell you; the journal isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t use it.
Asking the Question, Why a Book Journal?
A book journal is a way to keep track of the books you’ve read. I know there are some amazing websites like Goodreads (hey we should be friends!), Librarything, and Shelfari just to name a few, but I’m so old school my high school wardrobe is coming back in style so I believe in the power of a pen, paper, and my own handwriting.
If you’re someone who only reads a couple of books a year, then a book journal might not be something you’d enjoy. But if you are my people, a true book lover and your library card has more mileage than a 50 year old prostitute, then you need a book journal in your life (also, God Bless the 50 year old prostitute – Keep on with your…. uh, self).
It also became apparent to me that not only do I read a lot of books for my own enjoyment but I read them to tell you about them here so having a book journal is another way for me to write down my thoughts and opinions on the books I review as I read them. If I’m reading something on my Kindle, sure I can take notes and put them in the Kindle but then I have to remember I actually made notes. Plus, I just love another excuse to use/buy/hoard a journal.
Choosing the Right Journal
This is one of those times when I do think size matters. No seriously. I’m wordy. Very. Extremely. Wordy. More room in the journal to write means more words.
There are two types of books journals; one you buy with prompts and information to fill in, and one you make.
Buying a pre-made journal is nice because it has a lot of information already in it and all you need to do is fill it in. Space for the book title, author, start/end reading date, summary or thoughts and even a rating system. You’ll find book journals like those on Amazon or in a local bookstore.
A handmade book journal gives you a bit more freedom – You can choose how much information you want to fill in or supply about the book. Obviously title and author is given information, but it’s up to you how to build it and what to fill it with.
Lucky for me, I have lots of unused journals just waiting to be used up. The next problem was deciding on what size journal to use. A small journal with small pages didn’t seem to give me enough space to write everything I thought I’d want to write. Like I said; W O R D Y. I opted for the biggest journal I have; a hardcover journal, similar to the size of a textbook and plenty of pages to fill.
What Should Be In Your Book Journal
This falls back to what you’re going to use it for. My book journal is for business and pleasure. I know my own thought process and years of book reports in elementary school (seriously… I loved book reports and never turned one in late) reminded me of what I love and don’t love about book journaling.
If you choose to buy a pre-made book journal, then a lot of the guess work is done for you and it’s pretty straightforward. If you choose to make your own, well… then you’ve got some decisions to make. My book journal does not include a start date, only the date I finished reading or wrote about the book. It also doesn’t include a fancy rating system because my ratings are simple: Loved it, couldn’t even finish it, and probably won’t read again. You may require a more sophisticated system such as numbers, stars, or letter grades (A,B,C,D,F).
Journaling the Details
Now that I have a large, plenty of space journal, (that weighs as much as a small dog) and I know how much book information I’m going to include, I have to decide what I will journal about (plot, characters, subject matter, etc). A brief paragraph summarizing the plot is always best but you don’t need it. A journal is a journal for a reason. No one has to see it or even read it if you don’t want them to; you’re the master story teller here.
User your book journal to chronicle the books you read in any of these ways:
- Write down your feelings about the book.
- Favorite quotes or passages (don’t forget the page numbers)
- Memorable characters
- How the book reflects your life.
- Journal as though you’re writing to a friend or fellow book lover.
- Write a letter to your favorite character (or least favorite character) and tell them what you think of their place in the book.
I know there’s going to be times when it will be easier for me to simply write and describe the book like I’m writing to someone I know (living and dead) than it will be to reflect on the book. Other times it might be easier to chronicle the book’s details and formulate my journal entry in book report form. As you journal your book adventures, you’ll eventually learn what your book journal style is.
What creative ways can you think of to keep a book journal? (Because YOU KNOW I’m always looking for a way to use up those journals!)
*post contains affiliate links – let’s put the kids through college or better yet, buy me more books!