If You Give a Girl a Planner: Reading Journal

If you give a girl a planner, she's going to ask you for a pen, some stickers... and maybe a notebook to go with it. I'm so obsessed with all things paper! I love trying new things and then blogging about it. So, for the next few days, I'm sharing my 2020 planner lineup. I'll talk about what I'm using for my daily life, personal goals, reading journal, and bookish bullet journal. Today it's all about my reading journal and log!

Back in 2017, I decided to start keeping a reading log. I wasn't always timely about writing reviews for the blog or Goodreads, and then I'd struggle to remember what I thought of a book when I was done. I looked at reading journals on the market, but most fell short for various reasons – like categories that I didn't want to fill in for every single book I read, too little or too much space, or not enough pages to last me a year. Enter Happy Planner!

The beauty of Happy Planners and the disc-bound planner system is that you can customize them. If you saw my post about my 2018 reading log, today's will look very familiar. The only real difference? The size! I was previously using a Mini but switched to a Classic for 2020. I wasn't sure if it would feel too big, but it's just right. I'll chat a little more about that below. This is a 12-month horizontal planner. Let's look inside!

At the beginning of every month, there's a Notes page. Every Happy Planner has their own design for this page, so that usually influences which planner I choose for the year. I divide this into four sections with my pen and then use the colorful boxes stickers to add headings. This is where I track five things for that month's reads:

+ Source (TBR / Borrow / Review / Reread)
+ Format (Hardcover / Paperback / E-Book / Audiobook) 
+ Top 3 Reads of the Month
+ Genre (genres listed changed based on the month)
+ Quote (favorite from any book that month)

I love wrapping up the month by filling this out because it's a nice way to look back before diving in to new books.

On the monthly calendar spread, I write down a book's title on the day I finished reading it. If I finish more than one book in a day, I just draw a line halfway through the box to split it up. It's super simple, but I love seeing the contrast between weeks where I only finished one book versus weeks where I was finishing a book a day. 

And now we get to the heart of this planner: the weekly view! Happy Planners come in a lot of different formats, but I always buy the horizontal style for my reading log. It's just easier to write down my thoughts in a lined space. As I mentioned, I used to get the Mini size but switched to the Classic this year. I noticed in my Mini that my thoughts often sounded really shallow or repetitive because I didn't have the space to flesh them out at all. I loved that I stuck to the highlights, but looking back it felt like I couldn't write in full sentences or explain myself.

The Classic size has been nice because it gives me a little more room to go into detail but isn't as overwhelming as most things that are marketed as reading journals. I personally don't want a full page per book! I'd never keep up with it and would probably run out of pages in the notebook before the end of the year. This size and style is just right for me! On the day I finish a book, I write down:

+ The title and author
+ The format, source, and my rating
+ A few lines detailing what I thought of it

It isn't as polished as a review I'd share on the blog, but my reading journal has helped me when I've gotten behind on reviews. The bones are there! If I finish more books in a week than there are days, I'll add in a Happy Planner half-sheet and use this same format. If I finish two books on a Saturday but nothing on a Sunday, for example, I'll white out Sunday's date, put washi tape over the line, and write Saturday's date with (Cont.) after it. 

And that's all I do in my reading journal! It's simple but effective for me, which is a huge reason I'm still doing the same thing I was in 2018. I don't want to mess with something that's working. I just wish I'd always kept one! I have one other notebook where I list what I'm reading, which I decided to include in today's post.

I mentioned this notebook in one of my Happy Planner posts but never added photos of it. I thought it would be fun to include here! I bought it from Books-a-Million almost ten years ago, and that's how long I've been using it. I write down what I read every month, and I love flipping through and seeing how many books I've read since 2011.

Here's a look at the inside! I circle the month at the top, write down the year, and then just list everything I've read that month. I have considered including ratings, noting re-reads, and other things, but I just prefer the simplicity. It's just a notebook of lists, and I love it.  

Do you keep a reading journal or log?
On Monday, I'll finish by showing you my bookish notebook!


  1. I just got into Happy Planners at the end of last year and I love them! I tried the dashboard and found it didn't work too well for me, but I really love the idea of using the horizontal for a reading log! Right now I'm using my Happy Planner stickers in my Always Fully Booked planner!

  2. I still love how you do your reading journal using a Happy Planner! I'm truly glad that this system still works out perfectly for you :) I've actually transitioned into doing a more bullet journal style reading journal, as well as actually writing my quick thoughts on the books I've finished in my personal life planner, and that's been working really well for me!


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