Hi, Jessica from BrownPaperBunny here to show you how to set up a book journal. While we’ve been in quarantine, I’ve been reading a lot more. Since I love task journaling, I thought it would be fun to combine the two and make a special book journal. Here’s what you’ll need to get started, if you’d like to make one of your own.
- A notebook
- Tombow Dual Brush Pens in your favorite colors
- A ruler
- Tombow MONO Drawing Pens
- Tombow MONO Adhesive Dots
- Scrap papers, washi tape or other decorative items
Step 1: Title Page
This step is optional but I like to create a title page at the very start of any journal. Having a title page means I can easily flip each journal open and see what year it was for. To make the numbers, I lightly sketched the outlines in pencil and then used the bullet tips of my Dual Brush Pens to draw leaf shapes to fill the numbers. The Dual Brush Pen colors I used are 025, 817, 606, 526, and 379. If you don’t want to put the date on your title page, you could draw a stack of books, write your name, or anything else that is meaningful to you.
Step 2: Trackers
Next, you need to decide what sort of things you want to track in your book journal. Do you want to track how many books you read in a year, what genre you read most, favorite authors, star ratings? I’ve chosen to track the books I read via a series of genre lists as well as a visual overview.
I’ve kept the genre lists fairly simple and used my MONO Drawing Pens and a ruler to create a table to hold all the information. I used Dual Brush Pens and MONO Drawing Pens for the headings on each page.
You can be as broad or as specific as you’d like with the genres. For example, you might just have one spread for fiction and one page for non-fiction. You might split non-fiction out into memoirs, DIY, biographies etc.
Separately it can be fun to track the books you read visually, whether that’s a graph or an illustration like the tracker below. You could even get really fancy and color-code your books to your rating or their genre! Here I used Dual Brush Pens and MONO Drawing Pens to create this little shelf scene for my books.
It’s completely optional, but I like to include tabs so I can easily flip to particular sections in my journal. You can buy stick-on tabs or make cute ones from scrap paper or card and stick them in with your MONO Adhesive Dots. You could also cut them directly from the page like I have and use your Dual Brush Pens to color them. This works best on a notebook with nice/thick paper. If you leave room along the edge of your pages, then you can cut them and leave a tab to write on. I tend to put all of my often-referenced material towards the front of the journal so I don’t have to cut every page in the notebook to create the tabs.
Step 3: Monthly Spreads
After I’ve set up all my yearly trackers, I set up my first monthly spread. I set a color theme for each month to take the guesswork out of it. I know that if I don’t make it easy to do, I won’t keep up with it. So for January, I’m only using scraps of kraft paper, MONO Adhesive Dots to stick things in, black ink (Mono Drawing Pens), and some embellishment with washi tape and a gold gel pen.
I’ve also stuck in my January TBR (To Be Read) list of all the books I’d like to read during the month.
Step 4: Enter the Books
Next, it’s time to work out how much information you want to include for the books that you read. Will you just be listing them, writing a full review, or something in between? Here’s what I’m including for each book:
- How many pages
- The format I read it in (physical, eBook, or audiobook)
- Star rating
- Word cloud to jog my memory
- Picture of the book cover (or the photo I used for Instagram)
- Book club info if I’m reading it with a group
Step 5: What Else to Put in Your Book Journal
There are a lot of other things you could also put in your book journal. The sky is the limit! Here are a few extra ideas you might want to include.
Lists are a fun way to capture information in your book journal. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Books you already own but haven’t read yet (I’m calling those Backlist Books in the image below)
- Your favorite books for each month or the whole year
- Favorite books in each genre you enjoy
- Books you’d like to read in the future
- Favorite authors
- Books you’ve lent to friends and family
- Books on particular topics (politics, beekeeping, knitting etc)
- Characters you’d cast if a book was made into a TV show or movie
- Books you couldn’t finish
- Favorite Book Covers
- Books by your favorite author
- Series of books you’d like to read or have read
- Books in your favorite color
- Your favorite books of all time
- Books you want your kids / nieces / nephews / friends to read
- Books that made you laugh, or cry
You might like to chart your reading habits, the number of pages you read each day or month, or anything else you’re interested in recording.
I like to include a yearly wrap-up in my book journal too. It is a combination of my book stats and favorite books read (by genre). What else would you include in your own yearly wrap-up?