This is something I was going to tackle in my author newsletter, but I realized that it deserved more time and space so I could attempt to do it justice.
Before we begin, I’d like to say I was inspired by this YouTube video by Elaine Howlin. I have the patience of a gnat and rarely watch how-to videos longer than five minutes, but I was freaking riveted by her journal. I had no idea reading journals like this were a thing, and now I am enlightened and I will probably be doing this every December until I die.
I mostly worked on this during my kids’ winter break. I couldn’t write with everyone running around the house, and this was the perfect creative task that allowed me to hang out with everyone while still thinking about books. The kids even helped decorate a few of my pages!
Plus…I have about fifteen years of accumulated scrapbooking supplies. I can’t resist pretty paper and washi tape. Don’t ask me to resist them. It’s impossible. The only thing I purchased for this project was a package of page hole reinforcers, to keep the heavy pages from tearing out.
I found a little binder lying around (I have lots of these. I think they multiply every night while I sleep). I first divided it into sections: Book Lists, Reviews, Quotes, and Graphs. I drew up some cards for listing book information like title, author, number of pages, how many stars I’d give it, when it was published, when I read it, whether I own it, and whether or not I wrote a review in another section.
Next, I made a “best of” section where I could celebrate favorite books. Because I’m spending more time writing than reading, I don’t actually read that many books each month. I figured coming up with favorites per quarter would work best for how much I read. And I have these nifty, old-school library cards and pockets to use for that.
The reviews section is just what it sounds like–I write a few sentences (or paragraphs, if I have a lot to say) about why I liked or didn’t like a book, what worked, and whether the author succeeded at what they set out to do. I don’t have any pictures of this, because it’s not that exciting, and you can read my reviews on BookBub if you’re dreadfully curious.
The quotes section (pictured below) is something that I don’t often use, because when I’m reading, I’m not on the hunt for beautiful turns of phrase. However, some books will have a line or two that make me laugh or take my breath away, so those go here. Ninth House had a LOT of beautiful bits that I felt compelled to write down.
The graphs are probably the nerdiest thing about this journal. I have way more than what is pictured, including a graph for how many books I read in each age category (adult, young adult, middle grade), and how many in different genres. Super geeky. Pictured above, a graph for how many books I read each month, and below, a graph of how many stars I give my reads.
So, that’s about it! How do you keep track of your reading? It can be a list in a notebook, marking things down on Goodreads, or etching it into driftwood before sending it back out to sea. Or maybe you have an even more elaborate journal than this one! However you do it, I’d love to hear about it!
And if anyone raved about Tales of Sand and Stars in their reading journals like I raved about Bardugo’s Ninth House, and copied down a few quotes that spoke to them, I’d be absolutely thrilled. (Below is not a picture of me raving about Ninth House; it’s just a picture of the entry in the list section. But trust me, I raved.)