Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Keeping a Book Journal

If you are an avid reader, sometimes it can be hard to keep track of all the different titles that you've read. An easy solution is to keep a book journal. It's something I've been doing for a few years now in various forms and it's a wonderful way to revisit your thoughts on the books you've read and to keep track of all the titles you've actually made it through.

When I first started keeping a book journal, I dove in. I kept a notebook, and wrote long entries each time I finished a title that listed a bit of the plot and what I thought about the book. In some ways it also acted a bit like a diary of that time of my life. I occasionally revisit that journal and am pleased by how much my compiled thoughts can take me back to the book I was reading and to that time in my life.

After awhile of keeping that kind of book journal, however, I found that I was writing less and less about each title, and not documenting a book at all if I didn't feel like I had time to put my thoughts down in any coherent form. For me, the biggest part of keeping a book journal is keeping track of what I've read. So all the detail of my thoughts about the book isn't really what I need.

Now I keep a very different book journal. It's an ingenious idea I stole from someone else (I won't try and lay claim to it, but neither can I remember whose idea it was in order to give them credit): I bought an address book, and I use it for my journal. Address books come already organized by letter, so you don't have to come up with any elaborate filing systems. In the few lines that are intended for each address, there's just enough space for the title and author of the book, and a couple of quick words on what I thought of it. (I also include the date that I read the book, I'm not sure why!) I've been surprised by how much these little snapshots of titles serve to jog my memory of the book - almost as much as the long entries I used to do, but because they take so little time to write, I actually get around to completing them.

Do you keep a book journal? What do you do? Share your ideas in the comments field.


  1. I started keeping track of the books I read a couple of years ago. I have a small Moleskine notebook in which I write the title and author of the book. After reading this post, I may also start jotting down a favourite line or passage as well.

  2. I use librarything.com - i prefer the display of covers to lists, and is one less thing to lose and find!

  3. I use GoodReads.com to track what I read. It's a quick/dirty way to keep a list, plus the summaries are already built in.

  4. I used to use librarything.com but found that I just don't always want to get on my computer and log in. I'm moving to paper and love your address book idea!

  5. I also use GoodReads.com to keep track of what I'm reading, and I get notifications about what my friends are reading, so sometimes I get ideas about what to read next as well. I'd kind of like to have a handwritten notebook as well though, if only I could rely on myself to keep it up to date!

  6. My first Reader's Journal was given to me by my daughter in October 2000. It had various categories, which caused duplication of titles if one were to faithfully fill in each, so I decided not to continue using this format.

    Since then I have used a 6x8 hard cover journal where I record the title, author, date and place read for each book and then write a one page review/comment. I also give the book a rating out of 10. In the last few years I have started including favourite quotes, which I keep at the back of the journal, noting the book title and author for each.

    I love reviewing what I have read over the years, and often refer to it to make a recommendation to friends, my bookclub etc. My daughter, who was the one to get me started with this, makes sure she reads it each year when she visits and has told me that it encourages her to read more.