Keeping A Book Journal

To say that I love reading is an understatement.

Some of my favourite childhood memories are the days spent browning on a lawn chair beside the lake, soaking up novel after novel. I used to dream of owning a “Beauty and the Beast” type library with swinging ladders and gleaming, spiral staircases – who needs a house, when you can nest happily amongst paperbacks?

My love for reading has never waned. Today’s bookshelf has been laboriously double-stacked with books that I’ve read and reread countless times. Rarely will I leave the house without a book stashed in my purse or the diaper bag, and I always have at least three novels on the go.

After my wee one was born, there were strings of days where I barely found time to shower – let alone pick up a book! I realized that I’d unintentionally fallen into a mind-numbing routine where baby’s nap time equaled mommy’s “decompress with Netflix” time. I needed motivation to turn the TV off and start reading again.

So I started a book journal.

My goal was to read 60 books (5 books a month) in one year. While, there are many different ways to create a book journal, I opted for something simple. Here’s how I did it:

1. Decide what you want to record.

For my journal, I decided to record the title, the author’s name and the date I finished the book. I also make a “RR” notation at the edge of the entry to record when a book is a re-read. Each entry consists of one line within my journal. You can keep things simple, like me, or consider adding in space for things like:

  • Star Rating
  • Simple Summary of Book.
  • Genre
  • Is this part of a reading challenge?
  • Simple (or in-depth) review of book.
  • Whether you’d read this author again or not.
  • Whether the book is a re-read or first time read.
  • E-book or hardcover
  • Library loan vs. purchase / how much spent on the book

2. Pick a journal.

Now that you know what you want to include in your book journal, take some time to work out how you want to format it. Do you want a lined journal? Graph paper? And will you go hard copy, or use an excel spreadsheet on your computer?

There are so many options out there! I found a simple, leather bound journal that I knew was high quality and would last. I chose a lined journal to keep things simple since I knew I’d only need one line for each book.

If you’re including a broader range of items for each journal entry, you may want to consider using a whole page (or half a page) for each book. A lot of readers use various colors or highlighters to keep track of different genres etc. This is one of the best parts of a book journal — get creative and have fun!

3. Start keeping track!

Every time you finish a book, write it down! Number your reads to record how many you’ve finished in a year. 

There was something very satisfying about finishing a book and watching my little list grow longer and longer. I started finding extra moments here and there to settle myself on the couch and breathe in a few paragraphs at a time. Murder mysteries and legal thrillers, classics and memoirs, theological, historical, and biographical books – soon they all began to grace the pages of my journal.

Twelve months later, I’ve doubled my goal and read 112 books.

By no means is this any sort of record, and yet, it’s not a bad achievement for someone who spends the majority of her day chasing a toddler around the house. (Admittedly, the ratio of dirty diapers to books read is no where near what I’d like it to be.)

Some days I feel that my reading list should be more intellectual. But in truth, I don’t mind the fact that it’s mostly composed of fictional novels. I enjoy well written books regardless of their genre. Perhaps one day I’ll find enough time to write a novel of my own.

For now, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite books from this past year. Some of these books sit on the list because they challenged me (in a multitude of ways), some because they were so ridiculously well written, but all because I thoroughly enjoyed reading them. (List contains affiliate links but only for books I LOVE and personally have read and recommend. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

In no particular order:

  1. Visit Sunny Chernobyl – Andrew Blackwell
  2. God’s Smuggler – Brother Andrew
  3. When the Moon is Low – Nadia Hashimi
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  5. Delicious! – Ruth Reichl
  6. The Shaming of the Strong – Sarah Williams
  7. At the Water’s Edge – Sara Gruen
  8. The Weight of Glory – C. S. Lewis
  9. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
  10. Call the Midwife – Jennifer Worth
  11. Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
  12. Rosewater – Maziar Bahari
  13. A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
  14. The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins
  15. Forgotten God – Francis Chan

Go check them out and let me know what you think! Any suggestions for books to add to my summer reading list?

Keeping a Book Journal


  1. Pingback: 7 Reading Tracker Ideas - Pages and Pekoe

  2. Selena says:

    I started a book journal at the beginning of this year. A tip: use different colored pens to tell from books you’ve read or have reread. Makes everything easier for me because I tend to lose track sometimes.


  3. Mary says:

    I love this idea. I wish I had done this from the beginning of my love of reading (1st grade or so). My husband says a transfer truck wouldn’t hold all the books I’ve read – and he is probably right.


  4. Karen says:

    I too am an avid reader. I’m also a writer and I believe reading a variety of genres is very important to the writing process for me. I usually have about three books going at the same time. I’m retired so I have lots of time to do this. I look forward to hearing more from this blog!


  5. Pamela says:

    I’m going to start a book journal this weekend. I’m gonna use the happy notes planner, and each page will be a different book. I want to be able to write a small review about the book that I can use in my blog. I’m going hyper organized about it but that’s how I roll.


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