Starting a Reading Journal

AKA me wanting an excuse to find another way to track my reading.

One night, I was browsing Bookstagram and a gorgeous spread came across my feed. Immediately, I had a desire to buy another dotted journal to start a reading journal. But I held off because it really wasn't necessary. The idea stuck in my head because I love bullet journaling and creating new trackers/spreads. A few more weeks went by, then I came across another spread. This time, I went on Amazon, found a cheap bullet journal, and started planning different reading spreads.


Having bullet journaled for three years, I already have a range of stationary that I've been using. It took me awhile to figure out what I actually use, but if you want some recommendations or see what I use, here it is:

Starting this new journal also gave me an excuse to try some stationary I've been eyeing for awhile. The Faber-Castell markers have been on my wishlist ever since I saw them in a BohoBerry video. Having used them now, I love them. They add a really nice shimmer to the spreads without being overwhelming, and they look really elegant.

the planning

I went to YouTube and Instagram for ideas of what I could do. Having already used a bullet journal for three years, I had a vague idea of the spreads I wanted and how they would look. But I knew that this journal would be a lot more artistic than my minimalistic daily bullet journal, so I needed to see what other people were doing.

A few of my major YouTube inspirations were Journal with Chloe, mochibujo, Life with Liv, oliviareadsalatte, and oceanreads. All of their videos had something I either used or kept in mind for future spreads.

On Instagram, readsrandiread and amarisfloria were my main inspirations. They were the ones who inspired me to start a reading journal. To keep track of spreads I can use in the future, I bookmark pictures into a folder so I can reference them later. I find that really helpful when I want to try something different or just need ideas for new trackers.

To keep track of gorgeous spreads I saw and wanted, I made a list in my personal BuJo and worked from there. It took a little bit to figure out what order I wanted to put my spreads in (and also what sticker to use on the cover), but once I started penciling in my outlines, other things started falling into place.

creating the spreads

I knew I wanted a cover page to set the tone of the whole journal, so I decided to use the same quote I have on this blog. A little bit of gold marker and book washi tape added some fun, and I really like how it turned out. Drawing was one of the things I was most hesitant about because I'm not good at it. However, I knew that I wanted this journal to be more fun and "artistic" than my personal BuJo, so I spent a lot of time outlining things in pencil before I dared to use my pens.

The spreads that took the longest to make were my reading shelves. I drew one for my physical TBR, which mean counting out 60+ books to draw and drawing a few more in case I buy more books. In some cases, I made the books too small, but I made it work. My 2020 reading shelf was another one that took awhile, also because I had to size the books to what I had already read this year.

On the other hand, my audiobook TBR spread was so easy to create and I love how it turned out. Not that I have a ton of audiobooks (unless 20 is a lot?), I just forget what I have so I end up not listening to any. Hopefully, this will help me figure out what I should be including in my monthly TBR so I can start clearing those out too.

One of my other favorite spreads is my 2020 Reading Log. I really wanted to have fun with my metallic pens, particularly for this spread, and it turned out even better than I could have imagined. Now, my stars kinda suck because I'm terrible at drawing them, buy maybe I'll get better over time. I hope I get better over time. Filling this spread out and coloring in my star ratings with gold ink was super satisfying.

To help me keep track of my library books, I made a spread kind of inspired by the library check-out card. It doesn't really look like one, but it's close enough that I'm happy with it. Even though my library will email me reminders as each book's due date gets closer, I'm seeing and using my journal every day so the due dates are constantly being refreshed in my mind.

Something I'm trying is a review section for each of the books I read that month. Normally, I don't take notes while I'm reading, but now that I'm doing monthly wrap-ups instead of individual reviews, I find that I don't always remember things I thought of while reading. So far, this has been working out nicely as I read Alex & Eliza. I like being able to pause a reading session and jot down a few things I might want to reference in my wrap-up. The format isn't quite what I want it to be yet, but I'm working on something that will be aesthetically pleasing and function to me.

Lastly, I decided to write down the monthly Bookstagram challenges I've decided to start doing. I don't do every prompt, but if I have something that fits or feel inspired by a particular prompt, I'll happily take a photo for it. Having the month's challenges listed in the journal helps when I'm planning photos for the coming week, even if I only end up using one prompt.

There are a few more spreads I didn't show because I'm planning to make a YouTube video about it. If you'd like to see more of what I have in the journal, I'm hoping to get that up in the next week or so.

moving forward

I'm excited to see how my monthly reading is reflected as I use this journal. Even though I already have plenty of visual tracking methods for my reading, I enjoy filling in the pages of a physical journal. Coloring in the amount of time I spent reading and the number of pages I read each day is really gratifying and encouraging.

I will have more spreads as I figure out what works for me and what else I want to track. There are some challenges I would love to do that would be really easy to track in here. I kind of want to do a readathon before the end of the year so I can try different kinds of challenge trackers and see what I like. Honestly, there's so much I can do and I'm looking forward to seeing what I come up with as I keep using this journal.

Considering how long I've been wanting to do this, I'm glad I finally made the jump to start it. It's exactly what I've wanted I've dreamed of doing, even though it's kind of excessive considering how many trackers I already have. The creativity I get to explore in this journal is so different from my personal BuJo, pushing me to think of and try new things. And who knows? If I love this so much, I might try harder with my writing journal and start other journals because they're so much fun.

What do you think of reading journals?

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