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Why You Should Start Book Journaling Right Now (& Prompts to Help You Start)

Gia R.

Staff Writer

Gia R. is from Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated with two business degrees. While studying, her short nonfiction story was published in 2018 in Write On, Downtown, an ASU journal. Since then, she taught preschool students abroad. Now back in AZ, you’ll find her writing, reading, and adoring digital art.

If I said I remembered all the books I’ve read, I’d be seriously overestimating myself. Of course, I remember my favorites and the most recent books I’ve read, but other books, the ones I simply liked, fall through the cracks. The more I read, the more I find myself forgetting the details. Sometimes the title of a book will sit on the tip of my tongue while I try to untangle all of the quotations and sentiments I remember from it. The book was good and thought provoking, but I’m forgetting the title! When I remember the title, I may forget the characters. I may remember how I felt while reading it, but what about that beautiful quotation?

Books have the power to impact us even if we don’t remember the title, author, and other details, but as my reading list has grown longer, I’ve wanted to keep those delicate scenes and magical characters closer to my heart. To do so, I’ve ended up taking notes in the notes app on my phone. It helps me process the books better and get all my feelings out, but I’ll be honest, these notes could really use an upgrade.

If only there was a way to record special details in a fun and organized way! Enter: book journaling.

If you don’t know what it is, think of book journaling as writing about a book in a journal. Now that may sound simple, but the possibilities are endless! Think of it as a diary about the books you’re reading! What do you like or dislike? What juicy event happened in the last chapter? Would you share this book with other people? Of course, answering these questions would provide the content of your book journal, but it doesn’t stop there. Creating a book journal also allows you to create a visual space of your book experience. Not sure what I mean? Check out one example of book journaling below.

If you want more information on what book journaling is and how to do it, read Book Journaling: What It Is And How To Get Started. If you want to find out WHY you should start one, stay with me for a little while and read on. 

Why You Should Start Book Journaling Right Now

1. It’s the most fun form of notes!

A book journal is a place for you to write notes about what you’re reading, but there’s no final exam or test involved. Writing quotations and your thoughts about the book helps you keep track of your book experience. You can even treat book journaling as a fancy book report or a book review (like the one below). Select criteria and rate the book based on those categories. You could rate how readable it is, the quality of descriptions, character development, etc.  

2. You can talk about and process the book!

For me, this is the most convincing reason to to start book journaling. Spending the time to write quotations and answer questions helps me remember and understand the book and how it affects me. When I finish a great book or read an intense chapter, I want to DISCUSS. However, many of my friends aren’t reading this book and neither is my book club. Getting on social media to see what other people are saying can be interesting, but it can also be hard to engage. Some people have already read the book, but now it’s old news and they don’t want to discuss it any more. So what do I do with all these thoughts? Have a conversation with myself in a book journal! Putting those thoughts to paper is a great way to better understand the book and yourself!

3. Keep everything in one organized place!

I am a notorious highlighter and notetaker in physical and digital books. I know that some people like to keep a book in pristine condition, but I can’t help it if I want to circle a really good quotation! With that said, the notes in the book help me remember key points and process the material, but they aren’t easy to find. I have to flip through the chapters to find specific information. In a book journal, you can write down notable quotations or page numbers of important scenes. I can search for these things more easily on my kindle, but I often have to sort through many notes. You can condense that into a page in a book journal. When you want to look over a book you read earlier this year, you can enjoy the pages you dedicated to it instead of skimming through the book’s pages. 

4. Remember things that are personal to you!

Yes, we want to remember more of what we read, but that’s not the only reason to start a book journal. You may also want to remember more details that are specific to you. You could go the academic route and take notes of major information (title, author, setting, characters, themes, etc.), but to be honest, you can find this information with a quick google search. What’s harder to find? Your favorite quotes! Favorite scenes. A lovely description of a character. It takes a bit more digging to find this information months or years later. 

5. It’s a great opportunity to get creative and scrapp(book)y!

This is a journal, so it can be as simple or as complex as you want. You could write bullet points and draw little diagrams or you could add pictures and other items like washi tape. You can treat a book journal as a scrapbook of your book experience! Many readers will find pictures that help them imagine the setting or draw the pictures themselves. I’ve seen fan art and snippets of poetry in book journal pages as well. You can include other authors and artists in your book experience or you could flex your creative muscles and become an artist and poet in your book journal.

6. Curate it like a museum or time capsule!

This goes along with the previous reason, but to add to it, you get to create an exhibition of your book experience. You can make it pristine with color-coded sections and categories or you could smother it in pictures, poetry, and pressed flowers. Either way, it shows how you experienced this particular book. Want to stick with a one-page summary? Go for it! Need to create a four-page spread about the main character’s disastrous dream? You can do that, too! Furthermore, it can show how you felt about a book at that time. Years later, you can see what you thought of the book and check out the other books you’ve read. It’s a window to you and your reading experience during that time in your life.

7. Keep track of books and events!

It may be easy to find basic information like characters, setting, and genre for most books, but what about a lineup of all the events that happen in the book? Many people create blogs and catalog the events of popular books, but that’s not the case for every book. While you’re reading the book, you can create your own timeline of events. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve googled to find out a specific order of events. Sometimes I’m able to find it while other times I resort to rereading chapters to put it all together. If you already write out a list of events, you can always refer back to it!

8. Book journals are pretty. Need I say more?

You can make it more organic or clean and structured. You can also share it! Show it to a friend or reveal it on social media. Just search #BookJournaling on Instagram and let the journaling begin!

Now that I’ve convinced you to start book journaling, you might need some prompts to get the ball rolling. You can begin by writing down the general information relating to your current book like the title, setting, characters, etc., OR you could jump right in with one of the following prompts!

Prompts to Jump-Start Your Book Journaling Journey

  • Summarize this book in one sentence. In one word.
  • What’s the vibe of this book?
  • Create a playlist that fits the mood of this book.
  • Is there a song that reminds you of this book? Or a book that reminds you of a particular song?
  • Do you think you’d feel differently about this book if you read it when you were younger or older?
  • Would you live in this world?
  • What would you change about this book?
  • Write a letter in the main character’s voice. What would they say to their parents or best friend?
  • Which character would you want to be friends with?
  • What didn’t you like about this book?
  • How is this book similar or different from other books you’ve read this year?
  • Make a timeline of major events. 
  • Draw a map of what the world looks like.
  • What place in this book would you want to visit and why? Which place would you avoid and why?
  • Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not? Which friend?

If you need more prompts, find them in 31 Bookish Journal Prompts To Inspire You For A Month.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll BRB, I need to start my book journal so I’m ready for the new year!

What are you waiting for? Start journaling for your next book.