I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the bullet journal is unlike any other planning system I’ve come across because it can adapt so easily to your particular needs and lifestyle. I recently made a post about how to use a bullet journal to organize your writing, and I knew I wanted to do a follow-up post about turning your bullet journal into your own custom reading journal.
Because it really is that simple. Your bullet journal can include whatever you want it to include, and if you are the type that likes to keep track of the books you read or keep notes on everything you read, a bullet journal is a great way to do it.
- A Bullet Journal vs. A Reading Journal
- Should You Go Digital or Physical?
- 18 Reading Bullet Journal Spread Ideas
- To Be Read List
- Favourites of the Year
- Reading Challenges
- Reading Tracker
- Favourite Book Quotes
- Book Reviews
- Books Recommended to Me
- Book Wish List
- Series Tracking
- Monthly/Quarterly/Yearly Reading Goals
- Reading Stats
- Books You’ve Loaned Out
- Read-a-thon Information
- Bookish Event Calendar
- Book Club Information
- Reading Prompts
- Book/Reading Playlists
- Library Check-Out Tracking
- What Reading Spreads Do You Use in Your Bullet Journal?
A Bullet Journal vs. A Reading Journal
You might be wondering why I suggest a bullet journal in the first place. After all, a dedicated reading journal (which has become very popular as of late) seems to make more sense as a place to collect all your reading notes. And I would agree – a bullet journal is definitely a productivity tool where a reading journal may or may not be.
I mentioned something similar in my last post, but it really boils down to how much you plan to use it to track and organize your reading. If you only want a handful of spreads to keep track of the books you read throughout the year and make a few notes on each, a bullet journal will work perfectly fine. You simply won’t have the material to fill a proper reading journal.
But if you want to have something with lots of spreads, lengthy reviews, and places for making collages or mood boards for the books you read, you might want to consider having a dedicated reading journal. If reading is a big part of your life, you can certainly introduce bullet journal elements, like monthly and daily logs, but you will need to decide if you want to have a specific journal for organizing your reading, or if you can manage with a few spreads in your daily bullet journal.
The number of books you read might also be a big factor in determining which will work best for you. Someone who reads an average of 15-20 books a year is going to need fewer pages than someone who reads 100. If you’re the type of person that prefers to stick to one notebook at a time, finding a way to incorporate your reading into your bullet journal will make more sense. But if your bullet journal is small in size, you might be wasting one or two entire pages on a book review you’d be better off writing in a larger notebook (or in a digital one).
Take a moment to consider what is currently working for you, and how you can adapt it to track your reading. Regardless of what you decide to do, all of the spreads I’m going to list here will work with either a bullet journal or a reading journal.
Should You Go Digital or Physical?
If you already carry a bullet journal, I wouldn’t suggest making huge changes. Starting with whatever format you use to bullet journal is where you should stay, at least while you try out some reading spreads.
That aside, how much reading factors into your life is probably a good gauge. If reading is not something you spend a lot of time doing, starting digitally is easy and typically free. It’s a great low-risk way to try out something new. It might also be great for people who don’t like the idea of carrying around a notebook.
My recommendation for a digital bullet journal is, as always, the Notion app, but I would definitely check out my last post for more suggestions for digital bullet journals (or reading journals) if that is the direction you’re looking to go.
If the idea of typing out a book review after you’ve spent all day working at a computer makes you want to leap out the nearest window, then maybe you should consider a physical notebook. There is something to be said for having a physical keepsake of your reading for the year as well. It is more costly to purchase a notebook, and it will have to be something you remember to use regularly, but it can be extremely rewarding – imagine a shelf of reading journals from decades of reading, and how incredible it would be to look back on, or to share with the most important people in your life.
As with everything, there are pros and cons to each. Nothing is stopping you from trying one and switching to the other if it isn’t working for you.
18 Reading Bullet Journal Spread Ideas
To Be Read List
Having a single place to list all of the books on your TBR can be really useful, especially if you have books you want to read in a bunch of places – your physical bookshelf, ereader, library, Scribd, etc. You can also create specific TBRs based on a theme or for a calendar year, so you have a reference to guide your reading. And as you read through them, you can cross them off which is always extremely satisfying!
Favourites of the Year
If you read dozens of books each year (or each month!), you might want to consider a spread for keeping track of all your favourite reads of the month/season/year. This can be great to look back on, and you can even take it a step further like Elizabeth of Plant Based Bride and her annual book bracket, where she pits her favourite books against each other to find her favourite read of the year.
At the start of every new year, there is a slew of new reading challenges to inspire your reading. There might be something local for you to check out, or you might want to join one of the more popular ones, like the Popsugar Challenge, Indigo Reading Challenge, and Buzzword-a-thon.
These challenges are typically a set of prompts and recommendations for books that fulfil those prompts and help guide your reading each month. If you really enjoy doing challenges, it might be a good idea to keep track of the prompts you’re completing each month and the book you chose to go with it.
If keeping a reading habit is important to you, you might want to consider setting up a monthly or yearly reading tracker, so you can see how often you are reading (or conversely, how long it has been since you last sat down to read). Week to week, month to month, you’ll be able to see how much you’ve improved, and if you keep track from year to year, you can definitely pick up on some patterns.
Favourite Book Quotes
While you might be able to highlight your favourite quotes on your ereader, doing so in a library book or an expensive hardback might not be something you can do. Aside from snapping a pic with your phone, having a place to record all of your favourite quotes can be a great keepsake to look back on.
The most obvious thing to include in any sort of reading bullet journal is a review of the books you read, but it’s by no means necessary. It can just be a quick line or two about your favourite moments. Or (if you tend to wax poetic about narrative as I sometimes do) you can include whole pages and handwritten essays. You can also just read a book and enjoy it, and not feel the need to articulate any deep thoughts. Whatever works for you.
Books Recommended to Me
If you are surrounded by readers in your life, you might find this spread particularly valuable as a gathering place for all of the recommendations people will give you. And maybe even keep a tally of how often they recommend you read it, not just to be cheeky but it might influence the next book you decide to pick up if your friend has recommended the same book ten times over the last month.
Book Wish List
Wish lists can be incredibly useful for many reasons. The first, of course, is when your birthday comes around and someone wants to buy you a gift. They can take a picture of your book wish list spread and decide from there. It can also be helpful in curbing any binge-buying. You might not need that book right away, but adding it to the wish list means you’ll be picking it up someday.
If you’re the sort to wait until a series is finished so you can binge it, this might not be quite as meaningful for you, but it never hurts to have a spread for tracking series. If you read new releases as they come out, you might lose track, or forget that last book you read and re-read (or re-buy) the book again in preparation for the next book. This might be especially true if you’re a fantasy reader, since that is a genre where you typically find the longest series.
Monthly/Quarterly/Yearly Reading Goals
The number of books you want to read, how often you want to read, the types of books you are picking up – you can still be a mood reader and set goals for your reading. Having a spread to write them all down means you can revisit them at the end of the month/quarter/year and see how well you did. Or make plans to do better next time.
Maybe I’m just a numbers gal, but I love stats, and reading stats are no different. There are many who probably don’t care about the average number of pages in the books they read or the most prominent decade they read from, and that is perfectly fine. But if you’re like me, and you happen to enjoy giving that kind of context to your reading, then a place for keeping track of these stats might be a great spread to add to your bullet journal.
Books You’ve Loaned Out
If you’re the avid reader in your group of friends, the one who is always making recommendations and loaning out books, it might be a good idea to start keeping track of that. You can jot down the book(s) you’ve lent to someone, who you lent it to, and most importantly, when you gave it to them. Hopefully, it will help you avoid lending out books you never get back (because we book hoarders know just how painful that can be!).
Reading Challenges take place over months of time, but there are many shorter-term events that run throughout the year, like Bout of Books, Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon, and the Magical Read-a-thon. A 24-hour read-a-thon aside, it’s not a bad idea to make a spread to record your TBR for the challenge, note the dates and times of live shows or chats you want to join, and keep track of your prompts.
Bookish Event Calendar
Read-a-thons are one thing, but what about major industry events, like Yallfest or the World Fantasy Convention? Even if you don’t plan to go to them in person, there might be online events, and information drops that you might be interested in.
Book Club Information
Whether online or off, it’s a good idea to have a place to record book club information. Where you meet, any necessary login data, contact information for the members, etc., will make for a good reference. And that’s not even including the books you need to read and any notes or questions you want to bring to the discussion.
If you like a bit of random fun, you might consider having a list of fun reading prompts to draw from if you need some inspiration for your next read. You can create a list yourself, or find a list online with some prompts you like. I’ve made a list of 100 prompts that you could use to get some ideas. You could also create prompts around reading itself, and not just the books you pick up. Make a warm drink next time you sit down to read, for example.
When I’m struggling to get my head in a book, I find playlists and ambient soundscapes to be really helpful. Cozy fall and winter playlists are especially welcoming. Classical playlists, crackling fires – you can put together your own playlist next time you want to have some cozy reading time. You can also create playlists inspired by the books and characters you love most!
Library Check-Out Tracking
For the avid library user, having a place to keep track of all of the books you have checked out, whether physical or digital, is probably a good idea. Mark down when you return them, or if you’ve renewed your loan. If you get a lot of books from the library, it can be a real headache trying to remember when they need to go back – one easily remedied if you have a place to record that information.
And that’s the end! Here are 18 reading spreads for your bullet journal to help you track your reading! As I mentioned in my post about bullet journaling for writers, you do not need all of these. I’ve tried to create an exhaustive list to inspire you and help you create a bullet journal (or reading journal) that works for you – one that you find easy to keep up with but also satisfyingly rewarding. Pick what interests you, abandon what doesn’t, and don’t forget to have fun with it!
What Reading Spreads Do You Use in Your Bullet Journal?
How do you keep track of your reading? Do you use a reading journal? A few spreads in your bullet journal? Or do you use an online service like Storygraph or Goodreads? Are there any spreads you use that I haven’t included here? Let me know in the comments below!