I love bullet journaling. (I have a few posts about it.)
I also love reading books. (Lots of posts on that, too.)
And yet, I have never tracked my reading in my bullet journal. Not for lack of inspiration: there are a ton of gorgeous examples out there. People with whole notebooks dedicated just to book tracking.
But a dainty little page spread was not going to handle the 250 books I read in a year. (Picture books add up, ya’ll.) So I kept using Goodreads even though it makes it hard to, for example, see how many picture books I’ve read this year.
I thought about a spreadsheet. (I love those, too.) But adding a line to a spreadsheet is just not as satisfying.
So I started tinkering. And eventually, I came up with this: my Obsessive, Color-Coded, Reading Log for People Who Are a Bit Intense. (Trademark pending.)
Read on to learn how it works. Then grab your free download to try it out for yourself.
The Reading Log
The setup is simple:
Each book gets a row in the reading log.
There’s a column for the book name. Then columns to track important information about each book.
Hacks to Take It To The Next Level
So far I’ve described a functional (if boring) way to track a lot of books while also gathering information about them. With a few small tweaks, you can make it much easier to use.
These are small changes that make it easier to see patterns and information at a glance.
Hack 1. Color code columns
Highlight your columns in bright colors. When I glance across a row, I can quickly see if that book is a picture book (orange) or a graphic novel (pink). This is great for when you want to track a lot of information.
The color printable has pre-colored columns so you can print and go. Or you can use the black and white printable and choose your own colors.
Hack 2. Color code rows
Or you could highlight rows in bright colors. This works well when you want to emphasize one feature of your books and that feature has lots of options. For instance, you could highlight rows to show book ratings (5 stars = purple, 4 stars = blue, etc.) Or you could color code them by genre (romance = red, mystery = orange, etc.). The black and white printable works well for this.
I don’t recommend using both color-coded columns and color-coded rows – that leads to a psychedelic plaid fever dream that is best left to the 1960s. You can get away with using a neutral color for the columns – like the gray Mildliner I used here.
Hack 3: Use Numbers instead of Checkmarks
Instead of using a checkmark or X to show that a book fits a category, use a number. Start at one and go up each time you add an entry to that column. Now I can glance down a column and see exactly how many nonfiction books I’ve read to date. Or if I’m close to my goal of 200 picture books for the year. (No.)
Things To Track
What information you track depends on your priorities. I want to read a variety of children’s book genres each year, so I track that. I’m also intentional about diversifying my reading list – tracking that helps me see where I have gaps.
Some things you might want to track:
- Total books for the year
- Children’s book genre/age category
- Own voices books
- Book genre (sci if, romance, etc.)
- Books from a particular book list or challenge
- Award winners
- Book rating (5 star, 4 star, etc.)
- Books read for a book group
- Themes. (Coming of age, friendship, etc.)
- Style (lyrical, hard-boiled mystery, poetry, magical realism)
Diversity and Representation
Most of us could benefit from diversifying our reading. Tracking diversity and representation will help you see the gaps in your reading list. I gave diversity and representation single bullet points above, but each could very well generate its own lengthy list. There’s BIPOC representation, cultural diversity, religious representation, mental health representation, neurodiversity, LGBTQ+ representation, and so much more.
If you’re not reading hundreds of books a year, a single column is sufficient. But because I’m a Bit Intense, I broke it down into categories so I could see what kinds of diversity I’m reading. I still had to lump some categories together.
Looking for Patterns
Reading is its own reward. It doesn’t have to be a chore or be analyzed to be worthwhile. Seeing the page fill up with neatly filled-in rows is the adult equivalent of getting gold star stickers.
But looking at patterns can be helpful.
For myself, I noticed that I’ve read fewer diverse books than in past years. Notably, the picture books are lacking. Since the pandemic, I have had less time to browse, so I haphazardly grab a pile off the new books shelf and call it a day. I need to be more mindful and select books with an eye toward diversity.
However you use this reading log, I hope it enriches your reading! Let me know how you use this!
Free Printable Reading Log
Both versions of the printable reading log are available to newsletter subscribers. Join to get access to this and my other bullet journal printables for writers.