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Beyond Goodreads: How to Keep a Reading Journal


Before 2020, I used the Goodreads app to track all things books: books to read, current reads, finished books, the lists of books I could find at each of the libraries to which I belong. Despite Goodreads’ strengths, I needed a better system to manage my reading: a custom reading journal. 


Yes, there are reading journals that are ready to use but if you’re particular like I am, a one-size-fits-all format won’t suffice. I invite you to follow along as I show you the steps I took to design my own 2020 Reading Journal. 


I began by finding a journal that attracted me, landing on this beauty by Peter Pauper Press, my go-to journal brand. I like the hardcover binding with no pesky spiral digging into my wrist that lies flat when open. The lines are college rule, my preference, and I appreciate the ribbon bookmark. I also chose a large journal knowing I would have no trouble filling the pages. 



With journal in hand and two different pens, I created a Table of Contents like so:



If I want to find notes on a specific book I can easily do so with the number assigned here.


Once a book is listed in the TOC, I make an entry that includes:

- Title & Author

- Publisher and publication year

- Genre:

- Fiction: novel, short story, YA, fantasy, etc. 

- Non-fiction: subject, Dewey Decimal #

- Number of pages

- Format: hardcover, paperback, or audiobook

- Source: bought or loaned from ______

- Date started, date finished

- Rating (out of 5 stars ⭐️)

- For book challenge? List category/prompt if yes

- Notes: thoughts, impressions, and quotes



Here’s an example of my first entry of the year for the book Quiet by Susan Cain. 



And here’s an example of a fiction entry for the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.



I’m often in the middle of a few books at once, in which case I find it best to wait until I'm done reading a book before entering it in the journal. Once I finish, I can add extra notes for as many pages as I need before creating an entry for the next book I complete. 


What about books I do not finish? I’ve elected to include these in the journal too. I want details about the books I loved as well as the books I left behind. Each offers data to help me choose my next read.

So far, I’m enjoying the process of keeping a reading journal, and I’ll keep you posted as I continue. While I still use Goodreads, adding a personal journal to track my reading brings clarity and order to the experience. 

Tell me: do you keep a reading journal? What info do you keep track of when you read? Leave a comment! 

 
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