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
- 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!