So like many of you I’m sure, I have a penchant for tracking my reading in multiple places – a bullet journal being one of them! It’s such a fun and creative outlet and today I wanted to share with you what things I track.
I first started doing this last year in 2021 and am upgrading, revising and continuing the endeavour in 2022. I find the visual method of tracking books really enlightening and it adds a level of accomplishment when you get to colour something in when you read that final page of a book.
So without further ado, let’s look at my categories for my bujo!
Year in Books Overview
This spread is the first spread in my journal and it’s where I keep a simple track of which books I’ve read in the year, the order I read them in and what star rating I give them. I’ve used this design for a couple of years as I find it super fun and easy to take in. You’ll notice on this spread, as with others to follow, I haven’t quite finished colouring in some of the decorative elements, so do excuse that.
I like to allow myself a little bit more room than what I’m actually expecting to read. Last year I had the frustrating situation where I allowed room for X-many books, and then read more than that. So this year I have slots for 115 books, but I don’t expect to read that many.
The next thing I track is the genres I read. Again, I’ve stuck with this design for a couple of years because it’s nice and visual and an easy way to process what genres you’re reading most of. I don’t like subdividing categories too much (there’s only so much room, people), so for example, since photographing this I read a classic and realised I don’t have a slot for that genre, so I’ve turned Literary into Literary/Classic as they best go together.
Overall, it ends up still indicating what my preference is and where my reading sits. Usually, fantasy wins by a landslide and last year I ran out of room towards the end. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens again this year, but I don’t worry too much if that happens because c’est la vie, sometimes you stuff up your bullet journal and it’s not worth the tears. But hopefully there’s enough space! Once again, this is colour-coded according to star rating.
The next thing I track are my favourites by month, eventually whittling it down to the favourite book of the year. This is something that is so fun to do as it’s like revealing to yourself slowly which books are making up the best reads of the year – and you have to wait until December to see the full picture!
I changed this design from last year, where I had a cute picture of Winnie the Pooh with a book on his head and each month was a thought cloud/bubble. As much as I liked it, I am particularly taken with these book outlines at the moment and so went for more of a library/academia vibe.
Dymocks 2022 reading challenge
This one is representing a particular external challenge I’m participating in. Dymocks is a local bookshop chain in Australia and this is their reading challenge for 2022. I’m expecting, given the sheer volume of books I read, that this will be quite easy to complete. You can see I’ve already ticked off quite a lot.
I didn’t wrack my brain to expend too much creative juice on this one. It’s a simple cross-check with a pin wheel of process, which is delightfully fun to colour in.
300 TBR challenge tracker
Okay, here’s a new one I did this year! I’ve subsequently then almost made this redundant because I’ve put my book-buying ban on hold, and that is what this is for. I drew book outlines to fill in with books I read that actually diminish my TBR, and then left a grassy space at the bottom to draw a tree for every book I buy (a.k.a. the books working against the goal of reducing my TBR).
I’ve hit a stumbling block with this, as originally this was just for books breaking the ban, but then I stopped the ban so now I can’t decide whether to commit and just have trees representing every purchase … if I do the latter I might run out of room quickly. It’s a conundrum, but nonetheless I like the tracker.
Yearly goals: rereads
This spread represents some more of my yearly challenges, specifically my reread challenges. On the left if my reread progress of Throne of Glass because I’m trying to catch up to where I dropped off. I read Empire of Storms when it was released, but subsequently got distracted and didn’t finish the last two. As it’s been so long and the story is getting more complex, I wanted to start from the beginning and reread the whole things so I was better equipped to tackle the last two books.
On the right is my reread progress for Tiger’s Curse. This is a similar story as I’ve never read Tiger’s Dream and wanted to refresh my mind before starting it. For both of these, and some other challenges on other spreads, they are put into my ‘challenges TBR jar’ which I pick out each month on my BookTube channel. So progress towards one of these yearly goals is made each month. As you can see, I colour in the book outlines when I read a book.
Yearly goals: NAIDOC week and a classics challenge
So these are similar stories to the above, as in they are some more of my yearly challenges. The NAIDOC week challenge is relating to a specific week (NAIDOC is a week to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories in Australia, who are the First Nations peoples of the country). This is the first year I’ve set a First Nations–related reading challenge – last year I did a First Nations book haul. And I’ve got heaps to read so I’m looking forward to this! Closer to the time I will set myself a goal of books to read that week and see how many I can do – I’ll write the book titles in the book and the authors beneath on the line, then colour them in once they’re read.
The right-hand spread is fairly self-explanatory: it’s a classics challenge! This challenge appears on many people’s yearly goals, but I actually haven’t done one for a few years. I usually don’t complete the challenge, but having a specific TBR jar for these challenges has made a world of difference for me actually doing them. You can see here I’ve already picked out the ones I want to try to read. When I read one, I’ll colour in the rectangle (I was going to draw them and then quickly adjusted my assumptions about my drawing abilities).
Yearly goals: Snyder challenge, Goodreads challenge, and book/page tracker
Next up is one of the last yearly goals I’ve set, and that’s to read all of Maria V. Snyder’s books that I own but haven’t read yet (including a reread of Poison Study, as it’s been 9 years since I’ve read it and omg I can’t remember enough to continue the series, but that’s not on here). As I pull this out of the TBR jar and make progress, I’ll be colouring in each of the little books to indicate it’s been read.
On the right-hand page, I have a little wheel to track my progress towards my Goodreads goal (88 books), and beneath that I have a month-by-month tracker for both books read and pages read. These end up making fun little graphs as I connect all the dots and are super satisfying to look back on.
Monthly TBR tracker
This next one is closely linked to my TBR jar system that I pick from each month over on YouTube. I thought it could be fun to have somewhere to note down which books I pick throughout the year and be able to look back on them to work out how many I actually read.
This is a simple grid-like list, though I’m yet to decide if I’ll cross off the ones I read or just leave it as is simply for reference.
Page count tracker
This is one of my favourite trackers as I find it very satisfying to look back on. It’s where I keep track of my page counts, and I cap it at 500 pages. I do this because the majority of books I read are under 500 pages, so if I drew a grid to accommodate for 1000 pages, most of the bars would look sad and little. This is much more satisfying.
I also leave a little square of room to record the exact page count. That way, I can see the ones that have maxed out and read what the actual page count is. I alternate colours purely for aesthetic reasons – the blue and green don’t mean anything. And finally, I keep the running list with corresponding numbers on the side so that I know which bar is which book.
Reading time tracker
This works in a similar way to my page count tracker, but this time we’re looking at how long it takes me to read a book. The colours do mean something in this one, as I like to see if there’s a trend on whether different formats typically take me more or less time to read.
I went with a vertical graph for this one because I maxed out the count at 31 days (an average month), and there’s more room vertically than horizontally, which usually captures most of my books. Though I do enjoy the odd book here and there that takes me 100+ days to read, always entertaining (and yes, it does happen). So you can see green is physical books, blue is audiobooks and purple is ebooks. Corresponding books/numbers are on the left-hand page, and again there is a square of space at the bottom of the graph for the exact number of days.
As a side note for the eagle eyed, a couple of the greens have no actual number at the bottom but are maxed out. These are the books I read for work (as I am a book editor for anyone new in the crowd) and so it’s too hard for me to know how long it took – especially if they’re books I’ve edited! But nonetheless, they have still been read. This is something I used last year, though it is always the graph I need the most number of spreads for as it only holds 23 books across.
Date bought compared to date read tracker
This is one of my most fascinating trackers and the best one for shaming! I’ve kept this design from last year – on the right-hand side is the graph, and it shows when I bought a book compared to when I actually then read the damn thing. I have many books on my shelves that have been there for multiple years, so I always expect this to be busier than it is.
As you can already see, a lot of my reading is made up of review copies (as it is categorised at the bottom between my books, ARCs and borrowed books), which I typically receive/read in the same year – hence all the circles self-contained to 2022. Ideally, I’d be getting to more of my backlist like that nice long one you can see (Leviathan), where I bought the book in 2016 but read it in 2022. I’ve only ever maxed this graph out once!
DNF (did not finish) tracker
One of my more artistic trackers is keeping track of the books I didn’t finish. Every time I DNF a book, I draw an orange leaf falling off the tree. Whereas all the ones I do finish, I draw on the tree in green (I have not yet DNF’d a book this year).
I find this incredibly visually pleasing and a really fun way to track DNFs. Not only that, but I usually get to the point where I want to draw a fallen leaf which can be enough motivation for me to put down a book I’m not enjoying and get on with my life. So this one really serves its purpose! I used this design last year too.
This is new this year! Last year I tried a variation of the tree design from my DNF spread to track diversity and I ended up hating it. So this time I’ve gone for a vine. You can see I haven’t quite finished setting these one up as it’s quite detailed. But as I read my books, I’ll colour the leaves in according to whether there is any diversity in them or not.
I’m much happier with this design, however I suspect there is more I could do to make it even more visually appealing. Maybe some pots or have the vine going across a wall, but that’s a job for 2023.
Series progress tracker
I love this tracker and kept it on from last year. This is a simple, compact way of keeping track of the progress I’ve made in series. I create a simple grid with the series title on the left side, and the number of squares representing the number of instalments on the right side. Then I colour in the squares black for the instalments I’ve read.
You can see on the left-hand side for the Tarzan series (which has a whopping 24 books in it) that I had to go over line to fit it in, but it’s really not that common that I can’t fit both the squares and name on the same line. This is also a big eye-opener to how many things I’m in the middle of, and this is just one of two spreads.
Which spread is your favourite? Do you have a reading bullet journal?