Book journaling tools for every reader

I’ve been singing this song for a long time now but it’s worth repeating. Tracking the books you read is one of the best ways I know to improve your reading life. A book journal not only helps capture the history of what you’ve read, it helps you learn more about yourself—as a person and a reader.

While I believe every reader benefits from doing this, a physical journal is not required. If you love your digital method, that’s fantastic! Stick with it.

However, if you’ve been thinking about whether a book journal is right for you or if you’re already a journal devotee, I hope this will serve as inspiration. All you have to do is figure out how creative you’ll want to be with the format.

You can make your book journal as simple or as elaborate as you want, both with the tools you use and how complex you make your interior. If you’d rather work with a pre-set design, then pick up a copy of My Reading Life. If you’re interested in setting up your own format, then a notebook is the way to go.

I personally enjoy using—at least periodically—a wide variety of journaling tools. It keeps things interesting and—as a lifetime pen geek—it’s a small way to add pleasure to the process.

I hope you enjoy this collection of book journaling tools I’ve used over the years. I’d love to hear about your own favorites in comments!

Book journaling tools for every reader

Journals:

  • My Reading Life: A Book Journal is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to set up their own system. I designed this journal to help you reflect on the books you are currently reading and to help you decide on and plan for the books you want to read.
  • The Leuchtturm 1917 journal is the gold standard of bullet journalers because of its thick paper, numbered pages, and extra bookmark. I prefer the dotted. (lined | dotted | squared | plain)
  • The Moleskine is another favorite journal, available in a wide variety of sizes and colors.
  • Rhodia journals are high quality, with smooth paper, and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. I buy these at my local bookstore—the spiral reverse book is my favorite for brainstorming and note taking. (bound | spiral )
  • A regular notebook from any big box store will get the job done.
Book journaling tools for every reader

Pens:

A cheap promotional pen will work just fine but I’m a pen nerd and can’t help but share my favorites.

  • The Pilot G-2 is a classic gel pen, easy to find and inexpensive. I prefer the finer .38 tip. (.5 “extra fine” | .38 “ultra fine”). I also love the similar Pilot Juice, which I find to ghost a bit less than the G-2. (I’m also having fun color-coordinating the numerous colorful Juice colors with the ROYGBIV interior of My Reading Life!)
  • The Pilot Precise V5 is a smooth roller ball pen that draws a satisfying deep black line. I especially love the extra fine point retractable version.
  • Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are fine felt-tip pens available in a wide variety of beautiful colors. I especially love the grey shades for journaling because they write like pens but look like pencils on the page. (black | multi | grey)
  • Sakura Microns are favored by sketchers because they write well on all kinds of paper, and the colors are intense. Also available at JoAnn Fabrics. (black variety pack | multi)
  • Sharpie pens are long-time favorites (fine point for journaling, please). (blue | multi)
  • Le Pens are fun and colorful, with a sleek barrel design. 
  • Gellyrolls are my favorite for accenting my journal, and are also our go-to birthday gift for the younger set. (The moonlight collection is our favorite.) (moonlightglaze | stardust)
  • My Lamy Vista fountain pen is perfect for those who want to dip their toes into the world of fountain pens. I hardly ever use this in my book journal, but it’s great in Rhodia notebooks.

Pencils:

I’m a pen girl, myself, but I also love a good pencil.

  • The Blackwing is the typical gateway to the wider world of finer pencils; my favorite is the Pearl. I buy mine at my local bookstore.
Book journaling tools for every reader

Extras

  • Address and envelope guidea handy tool for those of us that have trouble writing in a straight line. I use a Lettermate, which is no longer in stock, but there are plenty of other great options at Paper Source or your local bookstore.
  • Washi tape can double as a book dart and is an easy way to decorate a page or mark important pages for reference.

If you want more book journaling tips, Book Journaling for Book Lovers is included free with MMD Book Club membership or non-members can purchase it for $15.

Do you have a pen you’d rather not live without, or a pencil you adore, or other book journaling tools you swear by? Tell us about them in comments. 

more posts you might enjoy

29 comments

Leave A Comment
  1. Suzanne C says:

    Oh how I love office supplies! This is such a great list. This year, I’m using the Staedtler fineliners with Anne’s My Reading Life, but the Stabilo fineliners are good, too.

  2. Barb says:

    I absolutely love the Flair! felt tip pens! I have used them for soo many years, I’m thrilled they are still around. I have the black ones around for everyday use, but love the variety of colors, and specialty colors, for journaling, notes, and any time I am feeling creative.

  3. Katie says:

    Okay, I’m going to ask this here because I feel like folks here will know! I love journaling and writing by hand but I have terrible carpal tunnel in my dominant hand. Any pen or pen grip recommendations?!

    • Christy says:

      I like to use the Pilot, Dr. Grip, weighted pen. I have arthritis in my hands and this pen helps. I also tend to use a large barrel pen or marker, it helps me to hold it.

    • Ruth says:

      Katie, I have significant arthritis in my thumb and forefinger joints and while I like the Dr. Grip pen that Christy mentions, the weight gets to me. I find that a thicker pen line helps me loosen my grip, and the flow of the pen/ink helps me to not press so hard. Anne, and many people, dearly love a fine pen but I can’t use them. My current favorite everyday pens are the PaperMate Profile 1.4mm. This width is usually called ‘bold’. I also like the Pentel RSVP RT Medium (1 mm) and the Office Depot Super Comfort is a fatter pen/grip with a medium 1mm option – but the 1.4mm is still the best for me. There are also 1.2mm ‘bold’ options in some brands that I haven’t tried yet.
      Good luck!!

  4. I probably own more pens and stationery than I can use in a lifetime. But my favorite pen is the black Pentel EnerGel (BL107-A). It seems to me they run out of ink pretty quickly compared to other pens I have, so be prepared to invest in a bunch of refills if you write a lot. Totally worth it in my opinion though!

  5. Freshreads says:

    All the teachers are salivating over the discussion of pens! I’m a flair pen girl personally, but I’ve recently developed a love for Pilot’s Frixion erasable pens! They erase so cleanly and they come in tons of colors!

    • Suzy says:

      I love Frixion pens, too, but be aware that if the page is left out in sunlight, it becomes disappearing ink!! Totally gone! I haven’t experimented with trying to get it back yet.

  6. I started using My Reading Life in January and also track my reading on an excel spread sheet. I love the combo as they serve different purposes. One aspect of the reading journal that I appreciate and challenges me is the space for favorite quotes. It makes me pay closer attention than I otherwise would. I can be a bit of a speed reader but knowing I need at least one quote forces me to pay closer attention!

    My favorite pen is the Pilot G2 0.38!

  7. Cindy says:

    I loved keeping my journal with some beautiful colored pens. One day I spilled a glass of water on my journal. Sadly all my writing disappeared! Be wise!!

  8. Tina says:

    I use the QuoVadis lined journal with Sharpie pens and Flairs. I print the book covers on sticker paper and add all the book details and my review, thoughts or notes.

  9. Becky says:

    Hi! On the subject of Pencils…. I have been a pencil geek for quite sometime and love me some Blackwing Palominos. So smooooooth! But, in the vein of Barbara Kingsolver: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral… I am trying to buy incrementally local. There are a couple of pencil companies in the US. I have found a pencil at the Musgrave Pencil company in Tennesee that I think is just as good as the Palomino: The Test Scoring pencil. They are MUCH less expensive, as well. Hope this helps someone!

    • Angie says:

      I’m glad you mentioned the Musgrave! They don’t get as much attention as the Blackwings for whatever reason, so they feel a little like an underrated discovery.

  10. Marie says:

    I am a neon highlighter nerd!! I cannot do my Bible Study/Journaling without my different colors of pens and highlighters!

  11. Amanda says:

    When it comes to pencils, I am a devotee of the BIC [mechanical] pencil 0.7 mm since I started using them in high school. Originally the only pop of color was on the clip, but now they come in fun colors. As I type, a glittery purple one is on my desk.

  12. Grames says:

    After trying other options, I returned to a good old three ring binder. It’s easily to divide into sections like reading log, tbr, quotes, notes, poems like, etc. When it gets too full I file the papers in folders. There are lots of cute binder options! I never really write anything when I am not at home so the size isn’t a problem.

  13. Beverly J Wrigglesworth says:

    For keeping track of what I read, I use Goodreads. In the review section of each book, there is plenty of room to write a review, write thoughts, or write quotes from the book. And since it is online, I don’t have to worry about storing a lot of physical journals.
    For just jotting down notes or a list of tasks to do, I use the reams of free pads of paper that I am sent from various organizations who want my money. This is for ephemera, notes I don’t mean to keep forever. And they don’t cost me 22 bucks.
    For any notes that I want to keep forever, I type those up on my computer and file in the relevant folder, saved in my cloud. Also makes storage very easy.
    As for pens, I have dozens and dozens of various brands. A few were sent by an organization that wants my money; many I picked up at the library when I was working there, as many people left pens and pencils behind. This was before 2019. I have also purchased pens, I like fine line Sharpies myself.

  14. Pat says:

    Besides my book journal, I also keep a document in Notes on my IPad titled ‘Notable Writing’. I read almost exclusively on the Kindle App these days. When I come across something in my reading that makes me go ‘Wow!’ or something that is beautifully worded or just something that touches me, I highlight, copy and paste the passage in my notes. I have many passages from ‘I’d Rather Be Reading’.

  15. angie says:

    Oh, I was made for such a time as this thread! JetPens forever. Here are some of my favorites:
    Uniball Signo .38 pens in any color that makes your heart happy. Platinum Preppy–accessibly priced fountain pen flair. Blen pens–I have the three color and I don’t know what it is, but I can’t keep my hands off the mechanism. That thing is dark arts-level smooth. The Baron Fig Confidant notebook is great, or if you want a planner, it’s hard to beat the Jibun Techo. Kokuyo Campus notebooks are also a papery pleasure.

    One other thing–they’re not the best quality, but Smencils are pretty irresistible, as are scented Flair pens. They remind me of those scented stickers back in the day. Anyone else of a certain age miss their sticker collections and buying one off those giant rolls at the mall? (I’m not the only one, right…RIGHT?)

    • Amanda says:

      You’re not the only one who fondly remembers the giant rolls of stickers that you ripped carefully on the perforation in order to buy per square. Smencils also remind me of the scented erasers from the same time.

  16. Susan says:

    I love my Bic 4 color pen. I’ve been using it for over 7 years. I was just looking for a new one and asked for recommendations up on my blog. This looks like a great resource. Thanks

  17. Gita says:

    Really love nice stationary!!
    Such a pleasure to interact with similiar minded people.
    My book journal is a handmade notebook!
    Love it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.