Bullet journals have taken the bookish community by storm – a trend that I’m both excited and hesitant about.
I, like many people, hopped on the bullet journal train a few years back, and have religiously started a new journal at the beginning of every new year. When I would sit down to start planning the look and feel of my journal, I found so many amazing, creative planner spreads on Pinterest and Instagram that I couldn’t wait to emulate and draw inspiration from. However, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many hours of preparation and creative energy I poured into it, the end result was always ultimately just a notebook, half-full of mediocre doodles and embarrassingly crooked and smudged lines.
The truth is, while I try again every year, all of my bullet journal attempts have gotten tossed aside for a traditional planner, because while I love the thought of customizing my own project management and reminder system, I’m not very artistic and I don’t really have the patience to establish everything from the ground up.
With all that in mind, you’re probably wondering why on earth I’m excited about starting a book-specific bullet journal. I’m definitely still adamant on keeping an already established physical planner (My favorite is Passion Planner) to jot down hand-written lists and notes in order to organize my thoughts and keep on top of my daily, weekly, and monthly to-do’s. And I’m definitely still not very creative, artistic or patient, but I’m going to attempt to supplement my planner with this bookish bullet journal: a place to track my reading goals, progress and stats for the year, plan blog and Instagram content, and more. Whether or not this bullet journal will find its way to the graveyard of past attempts is yet to be determined, but I’m excited to experiment and see if using the bullet journal system for a different purpose better suits me.
After conducting a bit of research, I decided to purchase the Archer & Olive A5 192-page dot grid notebook for my bookish bullet journal. They offer a ton of cute designs to choose from and the quality is unmatched. I’ve always used Leuchtturm 1917 dot grid notebooks for previous bullet journals, which definitely work just fine, however the pages are a bit too thin and apt to bleeding/ghosting for my liking.
To prevent myself from feeling creatively inadequate, I decided to up my game with the following tools and accessories from Amazon, Target and Michael’s:
- Kraft paper
- Circle stencil
- Pigma Micron pens – I purchased a set of three in 0.355 mm
- Tombow 56190 Beginner Lettering Set
- Wooden alphabet stamps
- Plant stickers
- Washi tape
- Gel pens
It always takes me so long to actually start creating in my bullet journal because I’m nervous I’ll mess things up or I’ll regret a certain design or color choice. To combat this, I decided to implement a few simple spreads (most of these were inspired from YouTube videos, which I’ll link below if I can find them!) with a neutral color palette and I’m actually pretty pleased with how things turned out!
Here’s a look at my bookish bullet journal flip through:
I kept my cover page super simple with a slight planetary feel as a nod to the cover of my journal. I know I’ve said it a million times, but as someone who’s not super artistic, utilizing kraft paper and stencils definitely helped give me a creative boost and resulted in a super clean design for this page. I didn’t intended to create a Saturn-like planet with the “Twenty Twenty” on kraft paper, but I actually love how it turned out!
I wasn’t sure what I was going to put on this page at first, but I settled on my 2020 bookish goals. Having these detailed right at the beginning of my journal will hopefully serve as a constant reminder for what I’m challenging myself to accomplish this year. I decided to get a little fancy with the white gel pen on the kraft paper, giving a little variety while tying everything together. In retrospect, I wish that I would have created space to mark whether or not I had accomplished each goal by the end of the year, but lesson learned for next year!
Books Read in 2020 Bookshelf
The bookshelf tracker is a bookish bullet journal staple. I knew I wanted to incorporate this spread into my journal but was dreading the implementation. After studying a few examples, I got to work, and while I could definitely still use a crash course in drawing books, I’m fairly pleased with how this spread turned out. I’m keeping it simple with no doodles and no additional colors to make keeping up with it easy on myself. I used a stamp for the title of this page, which ended up being messier than I thought, but still looks cute.
Books Read in 2020 Log
As a complement to my bookshelf tracker, I set up a log to track additional information for the books I read this year. While there was a lot that I could have incorporated, I settled on date finished, title, format, and rating, as those typically tend to be the stats that interest me the most. I’ve seen other reading logs that track genre, where the book came from, if a review was completed, etc., so this spread is definitely one that you can customize to fit your specific wants and needs.
Top 20 of 2020
I believe I saw this spread on Instagram and thought it was a neat idea. I’m not super proud of the execution on my end as things definitely got messier than I bargained for. I love the kraft paper detail for the page title, but I regret using stamps for the numbers. Now I know to draw those types of details for future spreads, but this is something I’m excited to use come the end of the year! I wish I would have given myself more room to where I could print copies of the book covers to paste in, but I’m sure I’ll be able to get creative with this one.
While I’m really focused on getting around to backlist titles this year, there are still several 2020 releases that I’m highly anticipating. I wanted a space to track those releases and their release dates and thus this spread was born. I decided to make seasonal buckets, which in retrospect, I probably wouldn’t do again. Personally, I think a calendar view would look much better but we’ll see how useful this ends up being!
This spread is pretty self-explanatory – I wanted space to brainstorm content for my blog. I’m planning on creating space within my monthly spreads to actually track what blog posts I’m creating, but now I have room to map out ideas, whether they come to fruition or not. Design-wise, this spread is super basic but I actually really like how it turned out.
Book of the Month Tracker
One of my bookish goals for 2020 is to actually read my Book of the Month selection each month. It doesn’t sound hard, but I’ve amassed quite the pile of unread BOTM books that I really need to get around to. I’m hoping that this spread will keep me accountable and hopefully make me stop and think before choosing my book for the month and a bunch of ad-on’s. I still need to fill in my January selections, but I think this spread ended up looking really nice and clean.
Goodreads Challenge Tracker
Can you tell that this spread was a bit of an after thought? I wish I could move my Goodreads Challenge Tracker up with my bookshelf and reading log as that placement makes a bit more sense to me but it’s all good. In keeping with my neutral theme, I’ll be shading in a block for each book read with a gray crayon.
After mapping out all of my yearly content, I was grappling with what I wanted to track each month. January is a bit of a test run for me, so we’ll see what sticks and what I end up shifting for February. I’ve established a page tracker (seeing as I’ve started this journal toward the end of the month, I’m planning on starting to track my page count on January 20), a blog post to-do/tracker, and specific monthly reading stats, including star ratings, whether the author was male or female and new-to-me or a repeat. I don’t always stick to a TBR but since I did actually complete all of the books that I said I wanted to in January, I included it for this month. I also thought it would be fun to add a page for my favorite book of January and my worst book of January, printing the page covers and pasting them in my journal.
As I mentioned, there are so many YouTube videos, Instagram posts and Pinterest pins revolving around bookish bullet journals.
Here are a few YouTube videos that I think are interesting and definitely served as inspiration for my personal journal:
- What’s In My Reading Journal? + a giveaway! | GabbyReads
- MY READING BULLET JOURNAL SET UP & READING JOURNAL UPDATE | Flip Through & Tips | Books With Chloe
- 2020 Bookish Bullet Journal Setup | Little Book Owl
- 2020 Bullet Journal Flip Through | PeaceLoveBooksxo
- PLAN WITH ME | november reading bullet journal setup ✨celestial theme✨ | Journal With Chloe
- 2020 Reading Bullet Journal & my reading goals | Riley Marie