How To Start A Reading Journal

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Several years ago I started keeping a reading journal and I’ve never regretted it. The journal serves as a record of what I read and when, how many books I read per year, and what specific reactions I had. More than once I’ve gone back to my journal to determine what year I read a certain book, and not only if I liked it, but why. It’s also nudged me to up my reading quota per year, with my list growing incrementally each year since I started.

Today we thought we’d encourage you guys to start this fun and informative tradition by giving away three lovely reading journals. Perhaps you’d even like to give the journal as a gift during the upcoming holiday season. It would be fun to pair the journal with a nice pen and a favorite novel. Thankfully our new friends at GoneReading.com have made this process VERY easy for you. Simply record your thoughts on each book you read throughout the year. (Note: we’re not being paid to promote these products, we just love them so much we wanted to share them with you. Because we’re awesome like that).

So. Three of you lovely readers will walk away with a brand new reading journal this week. Keep it. Or give it. Or maybe buy a few and stick them under the tree.

Giveaway Number One: Books To Check Out

Reading Journal 1
Reading Journal 1.2

Giveaway Number Two: The Book Lover’s Journal

Reading Journal 2
Reading Journal 2.3

Giveaway Number Three: What I Read

Reading Journal 3
Reading Journal 2.2
So leave us a comment (or Tweet or Facebooks, etc., as per the entry form below) telling us whether you already keep a reading journal, or why you think it would be good to start. We look forward to hearing your responses!

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

52 Responses to How To Start A Reading Journal

  1. Wendy Burks November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    YES! I have kept a reading journal for years, and regret not starting sooner. My favorite part is collecting favorite quotes and passages so that I will always have them to enjoy over again. My reading journal has become my favorite book in the house, since it is where I can find all my favorite reading highlights all in one place.

  2. Tammy Trietch November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Oh my – this is something my organized mind would love to have! I’man avid reader and have often wondered how to best keep track of books I’ve read – Title, Author, summary, whether I liked it or not. What a wonderful idea. I’m going to add to my Christmas list just in case I don’t win one 🙂

  3. Paige Carroll November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Wow! These are all wonderful journals. I have a friend who has been doing this for years and I have often thought I should start one….maybe I have found my New Year’s resolution! I try to keep track of the books I have read on Goodreads but I am not the best at that! I don’t leave a review very often either because often I am adding several books at a time! So maybe the journal would be a better way for me to log in the books I read! Great idea

  4. amyc November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not kept a reading journal before. I think I would like to now .

  5. Krystal @ Books Are My Thing November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I loosely use Goodreads for this, but I think it might be nice to have a designated journal to also write thoughts, etc down in. I really like the Book Lover’s one!

  6. Ann Bresnan November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    What a great idea! Would love to win, but if I don’t I am going to start one on my own. I wish I had started this years ago. I do reviews on Amazon and Goodreads so have sort of done this but would love to have in my possession.

  7. Renee November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    In the past I’ve kept a reading log journal, but stopped keeping track since I started reading ebooks. I spend to many minutes(that I could be reading a new book), looking in “my history” of my online library account that this type of journals would be most helpful.

  8. Amanda November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have been wanting to keep a reading journal for a long time, but have never gotten around to it. A journal like this would give me the push to do it.

  9. Susan Ashton November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve never kept a reading journal, but it sounds like a great idea. So much so that I wish I had started one way back when I first got into reading as a child. How fun would it be to look back and see everything you had read!

  10. christa Allan November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Been meaning to do this for years…Love #3

  11. Gwyn November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    A friend gave me “Books to check out” I love it!!! I write down the books I have read/listened to and the ones I read in my 2 book clubs…. so long list. I have enjoyed it. I write comments on how I liked it or not. This would be a great gift to other book lovers. Thanks for the reminder!

  12. LRF November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I don’t keep a reading journal but I think it would be neat to start one. My sister, who loves to read, came to my mind when you talked about Christmas gifts:) I do have a list of all the books I’ve borrowed from the library (online) and I’ve liked having that resource, but a journal would be xxx more handy (no internet required) and I could record books I own or borrow from family and read. Sometimes, I can’t think of a title or the main drift of a book a while after I’ve read it but with a journal I could just page through and get my info and out my thoughts to rest. I LOVE to read and I read e books and hard copies and think this giveaway is great! Thanks for the chance to win.

  13. Karen November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I use Goodreads to log my reading, but need a journal to keep notes on what I liked/dislike, favorite quotes, etc. from by reading. #3 is my favorite!

  14. Susan November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    This is a wonderful idea, one that appeals to my (wish-I-were-more) organized self, and something I wish I had begun years ago. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and I do so wish I had a record of everything I have read, and when, and how I responded to it. I’ve never been a very consistent journaler, but this post inspires me to try again!

  15. Brenda Klaassen November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I think journal #3 is the best for the serious reader! I have kept a reading journal for the past six years! I do agree that it is a good way to keep track of when you read a book. Your blog is a breathe of fresh air on this cloudy Monday!

  16. Laurie November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I do keep a reading journal, but it’s not nearly as nice as the ones you’re giving away. Mine is just a plain little notebook where I write down notes as I read such as character names and other details I want to remember. However, I also use Goodreads to keep track of books I read, along with reviews of those books.

  17. Trish November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Now that I blog about books I use that for my reading journal but I miss the paper and pen approach. Love these three journals!

  18. Vicki November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve never kept a reading journal, but a friend posted about her’s a while back and I liked the idea. I wish I had started one when I first started reading. I do have my blog and Goodreads, but I don’t review every book I read so I have no record of those, which is sad.

  19. Beth F November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve kept reading journals off and on. More off now that I’m blogging. Would love to start again on paper

  20. Kate November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I use GoodReads to track my reading as of late, but the idea of a hardbound book journal is very compelling.

  21. Paula Dolin November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a great idea! I don’t keep a journal yet, but I do keep track of how many books I read in a year in my Kindle. Recording my thoughts and reactions to them would be nice.

  22. Rhonda November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I did keep a journal years ago&enjoyed it.got busy&stopped would like to start up again.

  23. Kandra November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have only kept track of my reading on goodreads.com. I do refer to it just in case I have forgotten a book . Years ago as a preteen I actually had a 3×5 card box in which I kept a little card on each book I read. I hope I still have it somewhere, because it would be a hoot to look back and read the impressions of my thirteen-year-old bookworm self!

  24. JJT November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Goodreads is a great way to keep track of one’s reading!

  25. Kristie November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve never kept a reading journal, but this is a fantastic idea. I use Goodreads and Pintrest to keep up with the books I’ve read currently, but I love, love the look of these journals! Happy reading and journaling to each of you!

  26. Kathy November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve been keeping a list of books read in an old ledger. It reminds me to read more and I have set a goal to read at least a book every two weeks. The “book journal” would be a wonderful way to assess each book I’ve read. Since I’ve started writing a book, reading has been a way to learn how to structure my dialogue and develop characters. Thanks for all the good reviews of books in your columns which steer me to good reading!

  27. Cindy Hines November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    What a great idea 🙂 I do not currently keep a reading journal, but this would be a great habit to begin.

  28. Vicki G. November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I do have one but I don’t always remember to use it. I really want to start back up, especially for e-books that way I can keep track of any series that I start.

  29. Melissa Crytzer Fry November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    What a great idea! I’ve used Goodreads as my ‘go to’ for all-things reading related, but you’ve pointed out that it is deficient in some areas — like recording those notes about themes, language, favorites, etc. (which, currently, I put in separate Word documents). I really like the idea of having one spot in which to thumb through past reads. Plus – the actual hand-writing of notes seems to cement it and makes the reading journey that much more personal.

    Who knew there were so many reading journal options? Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  30. Brooke November 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I keep a reading log….what I have read and by author just in a plain notebook. I have not thought to journal my thoughts about the book, etc. I usually star when I like, etc……would love to win once specific to journaling. Who knew!!?? Thank you she reads! ~Brooke

  31. Katherine Jones November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    As it happens, my husband gave me that first journal for C’mas a few year ago, and I loved it for keeping track of books I read, including those I loaned to friends. Surely I’m not the only one to wonder, where did that book go to? Now I know. These days, since I’ve become a reviewer, I don’t keep a written journal, figuring my blog serves that purpose. But I kinda miss it. Maybe a new habit for the new year?

  32. Beth November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have be keeping a book log for a number of years but this summer decided to do it in a new way. I have created a website bklvr.weebly.com and post the books I have read along with my comments and ratings. This way I can share with friends or other book lovers and have a wonderful visual journal for myself. That being said, I just ordered one of your featured book journals.

  33. Kate I. November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve never kept a reading journal but certainly wish I had. While Goodreads has helped me keep track of books recently read, the only info I have regarding titles from the past would be (faulty) memory. I’ve seen wine journals and such before, but never thought to apply the concept to books. Thanks for the suggestion!

  34. Paula November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks for the helpful article. I have wondered how to keep a reading journal and where to purchase one. I had no idea there are different types to choose from.

  35. janet November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    This is an awesome idea! I have to say there have been a couple of books that I have started to read only to eventually realize that I have already read it!!! Having a reading journal will prevent this and also by journaling a little about each book, presumably I would remember them better :)!!

  36. Taylor @ Pink Heels Pink Truck November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve never kept an actual reading journal. However, I do keep track of all the books I read, haven’t read, own & have read and own but haven’t read. 🙂 Oh and I rate each book I’ve read in an app I have on my phone plus on goodreads…and on goodreads I write a review (plus I write a review on my blog.) So yes, maybe digitally I keep track. LOL

  37. Julia Munroe Martin November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I do keep a reading journal but it’s not nearly as nice as these! Just a pad of paper. It’s a great way to look back at what I’ve read. Like others, I do wish I’d started keeping a journal years before I did (just three years ago).

  38. Susan G. November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I should have known there would be a ‘book’ for writing down the books we read… I have thought of writing down the books I read one season (6 or 7) but would have just grabbed a piece of paper to write them down… and it would have gone into a drawer and been ‘swallowed up’, never to have been seen again. These journals are such a great idea! I only wish I would have had one for the past 5 -10 years…the time I’ve been reading the most.
    It’s never to late to start, right?

  39. NancyS November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Very cool books! I’ve been doing this for the last couple years in a boring notebook…and have found it to be so helpful in figuring out how much I read….and also with giving book recommendations to friends and family members.

  40. Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie November 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve kept a reading journal for the last couple of years and it’s been really helpful. I use it primarily to help me compare and contrast my books at the end of each year so that I can pick the winner of my annual BOTY (Book of the Year). I have to say though, I am loving these examples. So much more organization!!

  41. Kristin November 4, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I used to keep a book journal (did it for about 3 years) and I am so sorry I ever stopped. It was such a great way to keep track of what I have read. I am inspired to start again after you post….thank you!

  42. Laurie M November 4, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve been keeping track of the books I read in my engagement calendar. I would love to start keeping track in a reading journal – more space to make notes!

  43. Evelyn November 4, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    This is a wonderful way to keep a record of what I am reading/what I have read as sometimes I end up forgetting what I have read! And, I like the fact that it is a journal, not something to keep on my computer!

  44. Ma November 4, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I used to log my books on WeRead. I am so disgusted they just went out of existence without giving me a chance to download my records. Now I use goodreads. But a paper copy would be fun, too.

  45. Melinda November 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I don’t keep a reading journal, per se. But I do record my reads in a spreadsheet and then I blog so, together, that’s kind of like a reading journal!

  46. Katie @ Doing Dewey November 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I think these notebooks are really cute, but I can’t imagine keeping a written book journal. I find an electronic one feels like a lot less work to me 🙂

  47. Tanya @ Mom's Small Victories November 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Yes, I keep a reading journal (and by that, I mean a spiral notebook) for the books I haven’t blogged about yet. I love keeping the journal so I can write all the juicy spoilers I don’t want to reveal on my blog 🙂 I haven’t updated it in awhile. These are darling. Thanks for the chance to win!

  48. Rachel November 6, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I keep a “library list”….books I’d like to read with title and author…but lately I’ve wanted to expand the list to include some keywords and book genre….I have so many I want to read, I forget why I chose them for the list! These journals would be so perfect for that! Great giveaway…hope I win!

  49. Shannon J. November 8, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have been keeping track of the books I read for 15 year years. I have a hardcover journal for about every 2 years or so, one page dedicated to each book read. I keep track of info like title, author, copyright date, pages, publisher, ISBN, characters, setting, first sentence, and comments about the book.
    I also keep an Excel spreadsheet of all the books read, so that I can refer to it quickly. I’ve always loved journaling and I love these kinds of books.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  50. Tracy November 8, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve never heard of these reading journals, but I get so frustrated when friends ask for a good book recommendation and I can’t remember! Also, for loaning books out and forgetting who has it :). I’m for sure starting one of these!

  51. Emma @ Words And Peace November 9, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    first, thanks for the awesome giveaway!
    I have fairly recently started to take notes as I read, mostly to help me write my reviews faster and with more accuracy. Otherwise, I was just keeping track of books I read by alphabetical order and for statistics sake in an excel spreadsheet. so none of this a real reading journal per se I guess

  52. Asawathi April 24, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    I have never thought of keeping records of what all books i read. This is a very good idea.
    Will start…and also thank you for giving that three lovely reading journals

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