4 Reasons to Keep a Reading Journal

Journaling gets a bad rap because it brings to mind a teenage girl’s diary, and deep emotional exploration. Don’t get me wrong, those things are great. I journal every day to process my world and stay sane.

But a journal doesn’t have to have those associations. It’s a log, really. It’s about recording whatever you want to, taking notes and observations. There have even been some studies that show daily note taking can have health benefits!


A reading journal is its own kind of magic. It’s a way to make reading a tangible thing, and to keep some of the experiences we have when we read. Otherwise, we leave the book and don’t have anything to show for it!

If you’re not sure you want to keep a reading journal, here are some reasons why you should seriously consider it.

And if this all seems like a lot of work, keep in mind  that making a simple list of the books you read and a single line about each has a ton of value as well.


4 Reasons to Keep a Reading Journal


1. To keep track of what you’ve read

Sure, Goodreads works for this too, but it’s nice to take a break from screens. I keep a reading journal notebook even though I track my reading meticulously in Goodreads. I like to make small notes as I read. Plus, it’s so cool to have this log at the end of the year as a physical reminder of all the books I’ve read.

2. To figure out what you like

If you look through your reading journal and you’ve read a lot of the same type of books in the past year, you’ll know what your favorite genre is. Keeping track of what you read helps you notice what you like, and almost more importantly what you don’t like. And when try new stuff, you’ll have a visual reminder of how varied your reading tastes are and how they change over time.

3. To help you remember

If you’re in a book club, this will help you big time! Writing about what you’ve read increases retention. I can attest to this because I struggle with retention big time. I write in my journal during and after reading a book, then I type that into Goodreads as an official review. It definitely helps me remember not only details of the book, but how I was feeling at the time.

4. Provides time and space for a writing practice

I know plenty of people who don’t consider themselves writers, but still enjoy the practice of writing for physical, emotional, and mental reasons. I’ve talked before about how writing by hand is beneficial. Here’s a great opportunity to put that to action!


ramona mead while i was reading


If you’re going to give it a go and start from scratch, here are some details to include in a standard reading journal:

  • Start and finish date
  • Title
  • Author
  • Page numbers
  • Genre
  • Book publication date

And here are some extra things to consider including in your reading journal, if you’d like it to be a bit more complete and tap into your emotions.

  • Star rating 1-5
  • 1-2 paragraphs summary
  • Any favorite lines
  • Any favorite scenes
  • Characters you loved or hated
  • Strengths and weaknesses

Now, I want to hear about your reading journal practices. Do you have strong reasons why you do or don’t keep one? I’d love to hear your tips!

If you aren’t already keeping a reading journal, do you think this post will make you reconsider? 


1 Comment

  1. LEa

    May 16, 2019 at 9:10 am

    I don’t track genre in my journal! Dang! I think I can remember but when I am giving recommendations this may help me to remember more quickly!

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