My Book Journal

Simple Book Journaling: Three Questions to Ask

With the New Year often comes new goals-or maybe revamped goals based on what didn’t work this past year. Even revamped goals are full of purpose because they show that we learned something and desire to keep trying. What a great place to start! If you are one of the many who set a goal to read more books this year, you have probably also considered some kind of record-keeping or book journaling to track your progress. As you consider what your book journaling might look like this year, here are three questions to ask:

Question 1: Are you going to keep the books you read or borrow them from a library? In my previous post on questions to ask when setting book reading goals(check it out here), I explained why I am not an e-book reader. Because I am a print-book lover, I had to consider the keep-or-borrow question before I set out on a book reading plan. While we have plenty of bookshelf space (two large built-in bookcases frame the large stone fireplace in our family room), we still collect too many books too easily. About two years ago, in my quest for simplicity, I sorted, weeded out and donated about 1/2 of our book collection. We didn’t quite get down to the “Kon-Mari 30”, but we were within a range that was comfortable. The hard part has been maintaining the simplicity of our book collection, but we are determined. So in order to increase my book reading, I had to be OK with borrowing books from the library. I love supporting our local library, but this led me to ask the second question.

Question 2: If you are borrowing books from the library, do you want to keep any record of your reading? If you are setting a simple goal of number of books to read this year, your record keeping can be minimal. A small notebook with the book titles, authors and reading dates might be sufficient. There is probably even an app for that! However, if you wish to keep a record of more than the basic info, you will need some kind of journaling set-up. An online search reveals multiple suggestions for how to journal your year’s worth of reading, with ideas on tagging a book as “liked” vs. “not liked” or forms that include space for quick references to themes, etc. I have a friend who draws a bookshelf in her journal and then draws books on the shelves bearing the title of each book as she reads it throughout the year. I love this idea! For me, however, I am looking to record more from each book, such as meaningful quotes I want to remember, a reference to another recommended book to read, or information that connects with concepts from another source. And using library books did not lend itself to this kind of record keeping, as I could not mark up the book or expect to pull it off my bookshelf in the future. So I found myself asking the next question –

My book journal insideQuestion 3:  How can I keep track of the content and concepts from library books I read in a way that allows me to continue to use what I value? After some trial and error, I discovered a system that works for me. I dug up an unused spiral notebook from our office closet, pulled out a sticky-note pad and pencil, and began to read. Whenever I read a statement that fell into the category of “I want to remember that”, I would write the quote and page number on a sticky note and leave it on that page. If it was a longer quote, I put a post-it note on the page with an arrow pointing to the passage I wanted to copy. When I finished reading the library book, I wrote the book title on a page in the spiral notebook, then transferred all the post-it-notes from the library book to the pages of the spiral notebook. It was that simple. But it worked! My book journal has become a valuable resource to me that I reference frequently. I even find myself inspired again by some of the favorite books I have read since beginning my book journal two years ago.

My book journal insideJust a few days ago I finished the book journal/spiral notebook I began in January 2019. It contains the record of 25 books I have read in the past two years and forty pages filled with notes and quotes that I can continue to reference. The inside front and back cover of my spiral notebook book journal are covered with small notecards taped there under the category of “books to read” – sometimes a recommended book referenced by an author I am reading, sometimes a book recommended by a friend or online resource. So I never lack for the next book title to request from the library.

I know my book journaling idea isn’t for everyone. But perhaps own book journal idea will be prompted by these thoughts. If so, I will be thrilled to have helped you on your way to your best year ever of book reading and book journaling! If you have any questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Happy Reading in 2021!



Debbie Ashley

Hello! I’m Debbie — Lover of Jesus, Pastor’s Wife, Mom, Encourager, Hobby Gardener and passionate about the simple pleasures of life.

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