I guess that keeping my system to the minimum and using one notebook at a time is already a lost cause…I introduced my bullet journal sidekicks in this post a few weeks ago, and promised to show you a bit more of my reading journal. So here we are!
I honestly didn’t plan to start a reading journal this year: my reading habit isn’t new. But it still need to be nurture in some ways and keeping a reading journal should help me to broaden my reading horizons.
The reasons why I started a reading journal
I know what you think : why the hell do I keep my reading collections separate from the rest of my bullet journal?
My bullet journal is my second brain: it holds my whole life, and I used to have all my reading collections in it too. Well, this was how I was managing my reading logs until I came back in my hometown during the holidays in December.
I spent some time at my parents, and used it to sort out all the books I left there when I moved out of the house to study in Paris right after I graduated from highschool. While I was surrounded by piles of books, I came across my old reading journal from when I was something like 10.
I was already a bookworm and a stationery addict back then. So I was keeping a reading journal, with index, summaries, reading notes and all. I have to say that I forgot this notebook for years, leaving it on the bookshelves but as soon as I opened it, I felt like I was traveling back in time. Flipping through this journal brought happy reading memories back and I started to wish I had do the same with all the books I read these past 10 years. Just to better remember what I’ve read, when I read it and how I enjoyed the book.
So several weeks after I came home, and as was going back from the library with some new books to explore, I decided I needed a separate reading journal.
Beside the very personal reason mentioned above (sorry for the digression by the way!), having a separate notebook has two other advantages for me
- As I said, I read a lot and keep several lists of books to read that are really taking time to copy when I change notebooks. Having them in a journal dedicated to reading saves me time each time I need to change notebooks
- I can keep all my reading notes in one place and find them easily without having to flip through several old journals to put them together.
- last but not least, having my reading collections separate from all the other personal ones I keep in my bullet journal allows me to share my journal with friends: they can read my notes and there’s no risk for my privacy.
Now that you know a bit more about the why, it’s time to dive in my reading journal and to show you what’s inside it!
Even though there are many reading journal options out there, with reading log templates and pre-printed spreads, I started my reading journal in a simple notebook.
Just like my bullet journal, I wanted it to have a custom set-up and all the reading journal I looked into felt way too overwhelming anyway.
My reading journal is a A6 notebook from the Quo Vadis x Papier Tigre line. I has a crush on it and after weeks of hesitation, I overcame my fear to ruin it to start my reading journal.
If you’re thinking of starting a reading journal, I recommend to pick a notebook that features an index and numbered pages to help you keep it’s content organized. Here are some of the notebooks I would consider:
- Leuchtturm, A5 dotted (249 pages)
- Rhodia Goalbook, A5 dotted (224 pages)
- Clairefontaine My essentials, A5 dotted (184 pages)
Just like my bullet journal, my reading journal features an index. The notebook I use is a Papier Tigre x Quo Vadis A6 notebook, and the first 2 pages of the notebook are actually a pre-built index.
The index is working exactly like in the bullet journal system. The pages already have numbers which is really great. So I just have to log the collections as I create them. As I know I will have a lot of different collections (at least one per book I read), I left 4 more blank pages to create more index pages later.
Books to read
I currently have 2 separate collections of books to read.
The first one is a fiction books list. I used to read mostly sci-fi and fantasy books, and I only recently started to explore other literary styles. I mostly take inspiration from blogs to pick books, but I also rely on the recommendations from my friends and from librarians.
Even though I read a lot, I haven’t bought a book in a while (almost a year actually). I borrow all the books I read in the Paris public libraries.
To help me know where I can find the book I’m planning to read next, I added two tiny columns to my list (one for each of the 2 libraries that are close to my home). I simply put a dot in the right column as I create a new entry in my list.
The second reading list is very new (and therefore quite plain for the moment). It’s a list of books about feminism and gender in general. It’s a cause that is very dear to my heart but I have to confess that I have a serious lack of culture on this matter. So one of my goals for 2018 is to read some books of this list and give myself more theoretical basis to build my own opinion.
I’m slowly building this list out of podcasts and radio shows I’m regularly listening too, and once again, friends recommendations.
These lists don’t prevent me to pick books randomly on the library’s shelves. That’s actually one of the thing I love about the public library: I can pick books just because I like their covers, and it doesn’t feel like I wasted money if I don’t like them after all.
Books I read
For each one of the books I read, I create a new collection in my reading journal.
I write the title, author, the editor and the starting and end of reading dates. My reading log spreads also include a summary of the book.
This is actually what I liked the most about my old reading journal: I was able to go through years of reading by just flipping through the journal and reading the summaries. The only new thing is that I even log the books I don’t finish. It happens maybe once or twice a year that I start a book and don’t read it to the end, but I now want to keep track of them and to write some words about the reasons I quit.
Besides the fiction books I read, I’m also starting to read more non-fiction books. It takes me a lot more time to read them, mostly because I take tons of notes along the way for future reference.
I started to read Getting Things Done by David Allen back in February, and I’m still reading it as I write this post (so almost 2 months of reading, going back and forth through the book). I rely on the same note taking method I use for meetings notes: my spread is divided into two sections, the main one being dedicated to notes, and the left columns is for signifiers. The only thing is that I mostly put page numbers in the left column when it comes to reading notes. This way, I know where to find the full, detailed information if I need it in the future.
My reading journal is basically my “book of books”. It’s quite simple, but it really makes me feel like I accomplished something every time I finish a book and log it. I know I’ll be happy to have this reading journal a few months and years from now to help me remember the books that inspired me over time.
Do you keep a reading journal too? What’s in it?
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