Bullet journaling for book lovers

2016 was the year I finally took the bullet journal plunge, and wow, am I glad I did. When I made my list of the top things that worked for me in 2016, it was one of the most obvious things to put on the list.

When I started my bullet journal, I heeded some wise advice and kept it super simple. As I got the hang of it, I gained confidence, but my own system is still pretty bare bones, and not a single one of my pages is as pretty as the ones you’ll see on instagram. I like it that way, and I like that with bullet journaling you can do whatever works for you—simple or complex, highly decorative or spare minimalist.

My bullet journal is filled with the things I care about and want to keep track of: my daily agendas, habit trackers, vacation logs, stuff I learned. And, of course, notes about books. Lots and lots of notes about books and reading: what I read, what I want to, what I loved, what I hated, future releases I don’t want to forget about, potential lifetime favorites lists … it goes on and on. And with a bullet journal, it’s been surprisingly easy to keep track of all that stuff, in the same place.

If you relish a fresh start of any variety, this is a glorious time of year. Here on Modern Mrs Darcy, we’ve been talking a lot about how to get more out of your reading life. We just kicked off the 2017 Reading Challenge: a choose-your-own adventure checklist that lets you decide what you need in the year to come: do you need to rediscover the fun of reading, or do you need to stretch yourself in 2017?

Readers are split on which path they need, but I’m encouraging everyone to track what they read—to keep some kind of book journal. I don’t care what system you use, as long as you use one, but I can tell you this: learning how to bullet journal as a book lover is one of the best things I did for my reading life last year, and it will continue to make a big difference in the years to come.

That’s why this year I taught an online class in the MMD Book Club. It’s called Bullet Journaling for Book Lovers, and it’s an hour-long look at how to use this analog tool to get more out of your reading life.

Here’s what we cover:

  1. Bullet journaling basics: I’ll briefly explain how a bullet journal works, so newbies won’t be left in the dust.
  2. Tools! I’ll share favorite journals, pens, and pencils, and the various extras journalers use to add flair and functionality to their journals.
  3. Customization. I’ll show examples of simple and complex bullet journal methods, and explore the basic and over-the-top ways people design and decorate their journals, with an emphasis on the reading life.
  4. Real readers, real journals. I’ll share oodles of examples of how actual readers are using their bullet journals to organize, inspire, beautify, and maximize their reading lives. We’ll discuss more than a dozen ways to use your bullet journal specifically for your reading life.
  5. A practical get-started guide. We won’t send you on your way without specific next steps to put into practice.

free for MMD Book Club members ($10/month, no obligation, cancel whenever you wish).

Want to join us?

• If you’re an MMD Book Club member, you don’t need to do anything. You can access the class whenever you’d like.
• Want to join the MMD Book Club? Do so right here.
• Purchase the Bullet Journaling for Book Lovers class here, and get one of our Reading Journal Kits while you’re at it!

I hope this class gives you the information you need to get more out of your reading life—and your bullet journal—this year. Happy journaling, and happy reading!

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      • Theresa Reed says:

        I’m nickname:Genevieve in the book club. I love your club but my TBR isn’t allowing me to read along with your books right now.. but I rejoined this month previous to the post, specifically because I was so stoked about this webinar!

          • Theresa Reed says:

            So what I’m reading now are Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Beginning Again, Persuasion, and Moby-Dick..

            In religious books on my ‘imminent’ shelf are Beginning Again, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, and The Broken Way.

            I just started listening to your WSIRN podcast so from the library I have out: Girl in Translation, Light of the World, How It Went Down, Pastrix,Rejection Proof and Assimilate or Go Home

  1. Jodena says:

    Do you pack a load of pens with you all day? It seems that bullet journalers use a lot of pens and other products. Too have them available at all times means you’d have to carry them with you.

    • Susan says:

      That’s the beauty of making it work the way you want it to. I use one black pen all the time that’s clipped to the cover.

    • Anne says:

      Many bullet journalers do but 99.8% of the writing in mine is with a black pen that I keep clipped to the journal. I love my pretty, colorful pens but not so much that I carry them in my purse or my pocket!

    • Katie says:

      I’m a person that has a bag full of pens, highlighters, washi etc. And I use it all, but I don’t carry my bag of pens with me everywhere. I keep a black sharpie pen in my purse, and that’s what most of my “regular writing” is done with. I take my bag to work (I sit at a desk all day) and then back home. I have to sit down and spend time doing what I do with the fancy stuff. But when I’m out and about, my black pen is all I need.

  2. Libby says:

    I love things beautiful and colorful and exciting so I thought that when I started my bullet journal, it would look like that, too. But I’ve found that I do best keeping my Bujo super minimal. I like it! It doesn’t make for a good instagram but that’s okay.

  3. kelli says:

    How do you make notes about a book? Do you note plot lines and characters or notes for a book review? It seems like this would work great as a collection… do you leave space every week or month for review or do you have a designated space at the beginning/end? And how in the world do you find the review again? I love the idea of this but I have not the slightest idea of how to efficiently execute it!

  4. Allyson says:

    Anne, can you differentiate between the monthly section and the individual month section? I am unclear what type of information I should be journaling in the monthly….Thanks!

    • Anne says:

      I’ll give it my best, but I’m not sure I understand the question? However, my all-purpose answer is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! (And that’s coming from a serious rule-follower, but I’m learning. 🙂 )

    • Are you talking about the difference between a Future Log (year at a glance) and the Monthly Spread?

      This year I added a Books I Read collection (big duh moment!) because I always forget the books I read, so when it comes time to post on my blog, I end up digging through Amazon order invoices, library hold notices, etc… so silly!

      “Books I want to read” got tossed though, because I keep track of that in Amazon’s wish list.

  5. Cheryl says:

    I hopped on the bullet (journal) train in March, after you had blogged about it. It worked for me. I was so grateful for a system that really worked. I kept everything in it: books read, books to read, lists of measurements in the new house, notes from my oldest son’s college visits. And then…I lost it. I LOST MY JOURNAL. It was really devastating, and it still feels raw even though it happened in October. I had one book and I couldn’t even keep up with that! I went out and bought a new Moleskine (grids, not lines) but in pink, not my cute turquoise one, and it is just really hard to get going again. I am so hesitant to write important things down–it feels like I’ll just lose this one, too. Sorry to share my sob story but if anyone would understand, it’s a fellow bullet journal lover.

    • Michelle says:

      Oh this IS sad! Do you have a smartphone and/or tablet you use often? I’m new to the idea of bullet journaling, but in looking at it I’m finding it’s really what I’ve been doing for several years (although not as organized!) on my iPhone/iPad in the notes section. It’s on the ‘cloud’ so I can’t loose it (and I loose everything!). Most people are far more organized then me so committing to a physical journal is more practical, but maybe a hybrid method would help you feel like you weren’t going to loose everything? Alternatively, for any pages really important to you simply snap a photo that syncs to the cloud.

    • Hannah says:

      Since I take my bullet journal to lots of places where it would be easy to lay it down and forget it, I’m always aware that it could get lost. So I photograph pages (on my phone). Never had to recreate a lost journal, but there have been times that I’ve been out running errands and it was really convenient that a list was on my phone when I found myself next to the garden center or bookstore.

  6. Celia says:

    I am so interested in this class but will be traveling on the 18th? Will you make reruns available — for a fee or however you choose to do it?

  7. Karen says:

    Wow! Great questions for your webinar – before you even have it!

    I’ve been Bullet Journaling since April. What I love is: What you put in it is up to you! What you need to keep track of!

    I just use composition books. But since I learned book making back in high school, I cover it with scarpbook paper to it has a fun cover. Plus that thin Duct tape on the edges helps with wear and tear. And it makes an awesome pen holder – that matches the cover!

    Pens – I use black 95% of the time. I use highlighters for things I’m tracking. But I keep the multiple colors at home and use them in the mornings when I’m updating my BuJo.

    Long Term Calendar – is on the app on my iPad. It sends notifications to my husband so he knows when to track appointments I need him to drive me to. (I have an ongoing retinal hemorrhage in my left eye that requires dilating drops, retinal “pictures” and “a shot in the eye” of a steroid every 3 months. This also means I have days when I can’t see to drive.)
    I move these appointments to my monthly spread.

    Monthly spread – I knew that the drawing things out would begin to occupy my time vs. actually getting things done, so I print a monthly calendar off of the Internet, cut it down, and washi tape it in. Done! Plus I’m old enough that the recommended BuJo version of a list over something that looks like a calendar gives me the visual reference I need. (Yes, I’m a Visual Graphics learner.)

  8. Becca says:

    I’m a member of the MMD book club, but I might not be able to join the bullet journal live webinar on time. Will it be available immediately for book club members to watch after it’s recorded? I just don’t want to miss any part of it.

  9. MelD says:

    Are the webinars available anytime after they are live? Are they recorded, if we aren’t available when it is live? Thanks!

  10. Sandra says:

    I understand that the beauty of the bullet journal is the index, and you don’t have to keep things in sequence. However, it drives me a little crazy to have my daily pages spread all over the place. Do you advise setting aside a chunk of the journal for daily pages, for example, even though it is hard to gauge how many you will need?

    • Anne says:

      Hi Sandra! Well, that doesn’t drive me crazy, so I don’t set aside a big chunk of pages. But if that makes you happy, I would absolutely say to go for it! (You’re in good company if you do.)

  11. Alna says:

    Hi. I am very confused. It seems the bujo webinar has already happened? I received an e-mail from you today saying it was free for viewing…but with no link to it. Above, you mention it will be available a la carte to non-bookclub members “in the future.” What did you mean? How can I access it? I do not wish to become a book club member at this time. Thank you.

    • Anne says:

      Nope, it hasn’t happened yet; it’s happening tonight. I expect we’ll have it on the Book Club site as an a la carte purchase next week. We’ll keep you posted on how to access it.

  12. Bevalie Cannon says:

    I would like to view the webinar later since I am not a book club member. My question is … what type of journals do you find most useful. I like hardback spiral bound ones because I can open to only one page and prop on my knee or lap when not near a table and still make neat notes. These type are so hard to find. Have you found any or know anyone that makes them? As far as what I am reading this year,.. read Moby Dick for the first time. Reading Frankenstein (have you ever read the bio of Mary Shelley? Fascinating!) , Angels in the Architecture, Logic (ebook) by Isaac Watts, Awakening Wonder, and reading again with my class: They Odyssey, Mere Christianity, and The Discoverers by Boorstin. On my to-read shelf: Dante’s Inferno, and some various books on Logic. So exciting… So many books,…. so little time ♥ PS Any recommendations on journals (spiral bound hard back are my preferences 🙂 [email protected]

  13. Sherry says:

    For those starting out with bujo (bullet journaling), I purchases a gridded notebook at Staples for 2.99. It’s a spiral notebook with a simple cover. I didn’t want to spent the $$ on an expensive journal until I was sure bujo was for me. It also allowed me to try formats & pens without worrying about ruining a page. I also purchases washi tapes at the Dollar Store.

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