Tools for The Avid Reader — Book Journals

28 Jan

Back in 2007 I started keeping track of the books I read. It is a basic list with title, author and genre. Nothing fancy — no stars, no comments. It is a helpful list to remind me of my reading journey, although a bit unwieldy to peruse. I tried printing it out, but even with two columns per page, I felt I was endangering an entire forest. Wanting to have a bit more info on hand, I became a member of Goodreads. There I log the books I read and the reviews or ratings I gave them. It’s a great tool, but being an old-school reader, I do like a book in hand. After seeing a thread on a FB page I belong to, I bought my first reading log/journal this year. I love it! With a page dedicated to each book, I can document start and finish dates, format, and genre, page count, etc., with space for my review and favorite quotes. The particular log I chose has room for 100 books with a handy “loan” page at the back to document where my books are in the world (and who has them 😉 ). There is also a list of the 100 top books from the PBS Great American Read. Is it a bit overkill? Maybe, but I love having a “hard copy” to leaf through and reminisce about the wonderful book worlds I have visited.

So are there benefits of a book journal, or is it just a book nerd affectation? There are numerous online articles decrying the use of book logs in education, claiming that it kills a child’s developing love for reading. You know how it is — tell a kid to do something and they will do everything else instead.

My friend and super-teacher, Carrie, has these thoughts on reading logs for kids:

They are usseful when done right, but it is hard to maintain the practice if the logs are too long or detailed. While not very successful in my class, it is useful for kids who like to see a visual of their hard work. I use very simple logs. Noah (Carrie’s avid reader son) is religious about filling his out though, and he loves to show how much he has read.

However, I am talking adult book logs/journals. The ones we book lovers voluntarily choose to keep. Journaling is widely praised, so a book journal, should have the same benefits, yes? Studies show journaling produces mental health benefits, fosters creativity, and reinforces writing skills. I maintain these benefits can flow into book journaling too. Writing about what we learned, what sparked our interest to explore a subject more deeply, the emotions that the book evoked, how the themes relate to our own lives, how the characters responded to situations, how it opened doors to new worlds — all of these things can expand our understanding of the world at large and ourselves in particular (kind of like what reading does 😉 ! ). A book journal is really a vehicle to expand on and articulate what the book has started in our minds.

There are a number of pretty journals dedicated to books and reading, like the one I chose, or you can use a bound blank journal or even a spiral notebook or three-ring binder. Whatever works for you and fits your time and budget constraints. Modern Mrs. Darcy (Anne Bogle) even offers a book journaling class!  Yes, I am advocating keeping a reading journal, even though I have failed at every other journaling attempt in my life. We’ll see if it sticks!

Do you book journal?



10 Responses to “Tools for The Avid Reader — Book Journals”

  1. Paula Shreckhise January 28, 2019 at 1:28 pm #

    I keep a spiral notebook with the books that I read, primarily for reviews. Then I note when they release (for Arcs).Date began, date finished. I also add where I posted my review and what date, also where I posted on First Line Fridays. I may even write out a link to a review, if I need it for an influencer form.
    I have a separate small logbook for books I am influencing for so I can schedule my reading time. I have two pages for a month. In the back, I keep track of when I submit to be a reader/ influencer and if I was accepted to the team.

    • rbclibrary January 29, 2019 at 2:49 pm #

      The log for influencer teams is something I should do. I usually have to go back and search out where I posted. I probably miss a bunch.

  2. Barbara H. January 28, 2019 at 4:44 pm #

    Not really, other than my blog. Maybe I ought to print off the pages of my reviews to have them all in one place.

    • rbclibrary January 28, 2019 at 7:16 pm #

      That’s what I am doing Barbara.

  3. Winterville First Baptist Church Media Center January 28, 2019 at 6:49 pm #

    I don’t “book journal”. I keep all my book reviews in my Words documents folder and I keep a list in Goodreads. I have thought about buying a book journal to keep up with the books I read but decided Goodreads was enough for me. I think it’s a great idea though. I wish I started one when I was a teenage. It would be neat to look through and remember all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) books I’d read over the years.

    • rbclibrary January 28, 2019 at 7:11 pm #

      I wish I had started much earlier too. When my kids were little I was lucky to get my Bible study read! But it would be interesting to see trends in type and quantity of books I read.

  4. thebeccafiles January 29, 2019 at 10:46 am #

    I don’t have a book journal. I think they are a neat idea but I already write a full review online for my blog and other sites. I DO have a binder with a few charts to help me keep track of my completed reads each month and my to-do lists for review tours and such.

    • rbclibrary January 29, 2019 at 2:48 pm #

      I used to keep track of the stars I gave books, but that fell by the wayside. I’m hoping this will help me remember what I read and why I liked it! I am printing my reviews too.

      • thebeccafiles January 29, 2019 at 8:15 pm #

        I didn’t think of printing reviews but that sounds like a good idea 🙂

      • rbclibrary January 30, 2019 at 9:38 am #


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