What to Write in a Reading Journal

What to Write in a Reading Journal + 25 Creative Prompts

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Do you ever finish a book and find yourself overwhelmed with emotions, yet unsure of how to articulate them? I’ve been there. The first time I started a reading journal, I stared at the blank pages, feeling a mix of excitement and uncertainty. Over the years, and after analysing countless books, I’ve realised the right prompts can be a game-changer. They can transform that overwhelming feeling into a deep, reflective journey with every book.

Are you wondering what to write in a reading journal or looking for a way to connect more with the characters and story lines in your favourite novels?

If so, you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll explore what a reading journal is, how it can enhance your reading experience, and provide you with 25 creative prompts to get you started on your own reading log

What is a Reading Journal?

A reading journal is a great way to keep track of the books you’ve read and record your favorite books. There are many different ways to keep a reading journal, from a simple tracker or list of books read, or recording the number of pages you’ve read each day, all the way through to recording favourite quotes and authors and a full book review with star ratings.

Learning how to write a reading journal that’s personalised for your own preferences is a great way to get more from your reading experience.

One of the best things about keeping a reading journal is that at the end of the year you can count the number of books you’ve read through the year. If you’re an avid reader and get through a lot of books keeping a book reading journal is a great way to add much pleasure to your reading life.

Another benefit of keeping a book log is keeping track of great books and authors so you can always find inspiration for your next book. They’re also great for book club members to use as a reading tracker and to note down a good idea or discussion point for your next meeting.

How To Keep A Reading Journal?

Keeping a reading journal is a transformative experience, turning the solitary act of reading into a documented journey of discovery. But like any journey, the first step is often filled with choices. What kind of journal should you use? What details are essential to capture? How can you make your journal a true reflection of your reading self?

As you stand on the cusp of this literary adventure, here are some key considerations to guide your choices and ensure your journal becomes a cherished companion on your reading voyages.

  1. Medium: A paper-based journal can help to avoid digital distractions but a digital planner can be backed up and accessed anywhere.
  2. Essential Details:
    • Date of starting and finishing the book.
    • Book title and author name.
    • Personal reflections on the book (with page references if possible).
  3. Reviews: If reviewing, rate the book and briefly explain your rating.
  4. Creativity: Incorporate drawings, favorite quotes, and page clippings.
  5. Flexibility: Make it as simple or detailed as you prefer. There’s no right or wrong approach.
  6. Purpose: A reading journal documents your literary journey, offering a retrospective look at books read over time.

How to Start Your Reading Journal: Simple Notes or Structured Reflections

A reading journal is a deeply personal space, a canvas where readers paint their journey through the world of books. Its beauty lies in its adaptability; it can be as minimalistic or as intricate as you desire.

For the Minimalists: If you’re someone who cherishes simplicity, your reading journal can be just that—a blank page dedicated to each book, waiting to be filled with spontaneous thoughts, reactions, and musings. This approach is akin to having a conversation with the text, where you jot down anything that resonates, intrigues, or challenges you. It’s raw, unfiltered, and intimate.

For the Structured Souls: On the other hand, if you thrive on organization and consistency, a more structured approach might be your calling. This method is especially beneficial for students, academics, or anyone who wishes to draw comparisons between different reads. A structured format not only combats the dreaded writer’s block but also ensures that you capture standardized details for every book. Over time, this creates a treasure trove of insights, allowing for an at-a-glance view of each literary adventure. It’s like having a neatly organized bookshelf in written form, where you know exactly where to find each gem.

Now, diving into the heart of a reading journal, let’s explore the myriad things you can record, inspired by some of the features found in meticulously crafted journals:

  1. Reading Log: A chronological list of all the books you’ve journeyed through. Rate them on a scale that resonates with you—be it stars, hearts, or even emojis! This log serves as a testament to your literary conquests.
  2. Book Reviews: Dedicate a few pages to each book and delve deep. What did you love? What irked you? How did the narrative make you feel? These review worksheets are your space to play the critic, applauding the masterpieces and critiquing the letdowns.
  3. Books To Read: We all have that ever-growing TBR list (to be read list) of books we’re itching to read. A reading journal is a great place to start a reading queue that ensures you’re never left wondering, “What should I read next?”
  4. Favourite Books: Ah, the crème de la crème! Dedicate a section to the books that have left an indelible mark on your soul. This list is your go-to for inspiration, especially on those days when you’re yearning for a comforting re-read.
  5. Favourite Authors: Celebrate the wordsmiths who’ve enchanted you time and again. By recording your favorite authors, you can easily keep tabs on their latest releases and dive into new worlds they craft.
  6. Notable Quotes: Every reader has come across lines that resonate deeply, echoing long after the book is closed. Capture these literary gems in your journal, creating a reservoir of inspiration, wisdom, and beauty.

In essence, your reading journal is a reflection of your literary self. Whether you’re scribbling spontaneous thoughts or meticulously filling out structured templates, the goal is the same—to celebrate the joy of reading and the insights it brings. So, as you embark on this journey of journaling, remember that there’s no right or wrong way—only your way. Let these ideas inspire you, and craft a journal that’s as unique as your reading journey.

Reading Journals

Check out our reading journals available in a range of formats to suit your preferences. Tracking your reading and journalling about books read is a great way to get more from your reading and remember the plot of books read.

Pink and Green Reading Journal

Reading Journal Book

Printable Reading tracker template

Printable Book Log

Digital Reading Journal

Digital Reading Log

What to Write in a Reading Journal – 25 Reading Journal Prompts

It can be hard to decide what to focus on when writing your review. Sometimes you can’t put your finger on why you loved a particular book so much or even why it didn’t resonate with you. If you’re ever feeling stuck or staring at a blank page, try one of these 25 creative ways to get you looking at the text in a new light and generate some ideas for what to write about:

What to Write in a Reading Journal - 25 creative reading journal prompts to get you thinking about the text in a new light

Prompt #01: Write about your thoughts and feelings after finishing the book. Reflect on your emotional journey after finishing the book. Did it evoke strong feelings? Perhaps it reminded you of a personal experience or challenged your beliefs. Dive deeper into why you felt the way you did. Studies have shown that emotional engagement with literature can enhance empathy and understanding.

Prompt #02: Make a list of the characters in the book, along with their biographical information (e.g. name, age, job, etc.). As you read, refer back to this list and take note of how the characters change and develop over time. Consider their roles in the story. How do their backgrounds, jobs, or ages influence their decisions?

Prompt #03: Write down your thoughts and feelings about the book as you are reading it. This can be done in a traditional journal format, or simply by jotting down a few brief sentences after each chapter. Capturing your in-the-moment reactions as you progress through the book can offer insights into how your perceptions change as the story unfolds. Journaling in real-time like this has been linked to improved memory recall.

Prompt #04: Create a “storyboard” of the book. Draw pictures or write short descriptions to depict important scenes and characters in the novel. This can be a great way to visualise the story and gain a better understanding of what is happening in the plot. Many people are visual learners and retain information more effectively through visual means. Recording how you pictured a scene or a character can aid comprehension and help you retain more details about the story and how it made you feel.

Prompt #05: Take note of any interesting or unusual words that you come across while reading, and look them up in a dictionary. Use these words in your writing to add colour and depth to your journal entries and improve your vocabulary.

Prompt #06: Compare and contrast the book with others that you have read. What are the similarities? What are the differences? How does this particular book stand out from the rest? Comparing books can deepen your understanding of literary themes and styles. Literary analysis often involves drawing parallels between works to uncover deeper meanings.

Prompt #07: If you are reading a non-fiction book, make a list of the main points that the author is trying to get across. As you read, refer back to this list and take note of your own reflections and opinions on the subject matter. Summarising the author’s main arguments can help solidify your understanding. Additionally, reflective writing, where you relate the content to your own experiences or beliefs, has been shown to enhance comprehension.

Prompt #08: Keep track of the author’s use of literary devices such as similes, metaphors, and symbols. How do these devices help to create meaning in the text? Note down your favourite lines, interesting passages, or particular sections you’ve enjoyed and consider why these parts resonated with you. By identifying and reflecting on them, you’re engaging in a form of literary analysis, a skill that’s emphasised in many educational curriculums for its critical thinking benefits.

Prompt #09: If you are reading a book that is part of a series, take note of any foreshadowing or clues that the author has provided about future events. This can be a fun way to speculate about what might happen in the next instalment of the series. Foreshadowing keeps readers engaged and builds anticipation. By noting these clues, you’re honing your analytical reading skills and improving your own creative writing skills.

Prompt #010: Reflect on a moment in the book that deeply resonated with you. Why did it stand out? How did it make you feel, and why? By taking the time to write down your thoughts and observations, you will be able to better appreciate and enjoy the novels you read.

Prompt #011: Talk about what caught your attention while reading. It could be a scene, a character, or a phrase that struck you as interesting. Describe it in detail. What about this part of the text made it memorable?

Prompt #012: Connect the book to your own experience in some way. How did this connection enhance your understanding or appreciation of the story? This can help you to better understand what you are reading. It can also help you to remember the details of the book better if you can connect it to your own life experiences.

Prompt #013: Write about a character and analyse their motivations. When you write about a character and their motivations, you can get inside their head and understand what makes them tick. This can help you to better understand the story as a whole, and can also give you insights into the author’s intentions.

Prompt #014: Choose a character and write a diary entry from their perspective on a pivotal day in the book. What might they have been feeling or thinking? What decisions did they make that affected the course of the rest of the book? How might the book have ended if they’d acted differently? How would you have acted in the same situation?

Prompt #015: Think of another book you’ve recently read. How would a character from that book react if placed in the setting of your current book? Would it result in a comical but brilliant mash up? How would the characters backstory affect their decisions in the new setting? Would it result in a different ending?

Prompt #016: Keep a list of questions you want to research further after finishing the book. Have you just read a historical novel and want to learn more about the setting or if it has any basis in fact? Or perhaps you want to know if the author has written more books. Make a note of these questions as you read – this will help keep your thoughts organised and give you something to come back to later on.

Prompt #017: Start a conversation with other book lovers on Goodreads or social media about the book. Starting a discussion with other readers can help you better understand the book and get more insights. If you don’t want to get social imagine a conversation between you and another reader who had a completely different take on the book. What would you discuss or debate?

Prompt #018: Create your own graphic novel page for one chapter of the book. Creating a graphic novel page for one chapter of the book can help to provide a different perspective on the text. It can also help to better understand the characters and the main plot points. Additionally, it can be a fun way to engage with the material and to further explore the themes and ideas presented in the book.

How to Write a Reading Journal - 25 reading journal prompts to help you review your latest read and gain a deeper understanding of the book

Prompt #019: Write an alternate ending or missing scene. Rewriting the ending can help to clarify your thoughts about the story and what you thought about it. What would you change and what would you keep? If the ending was ambiguous or didn’t quite make sense, rewriting it can help to clear things up. Was the ending rushed? Perhaps there was a part of the book that the author skimmed over that you’d have liked to read in more detail.

Prompt #020: Write a fan letter to the author. It can be really helpful to write a fan letter to the author of the book you just read. You don’t have to send it to them, but it can be a fun way to connect with the author on a personal level. It can also help you to better understand their work and what they were trying to achieve with the book.

Prompt #021: Analyse the book’s theme. By understanding the themes at play, you can see how the author crafted the story and what they were trying to say. This can help you appreciate the book more and see it in a new light. How does this theme relate to current events or societal issues?

Prompt #022: Make predictions! As you read jot down what you think is going to happen in the book? What clues in the text led you to this prediction? Predict what will happen in the sequel or in the characters lives after the book leaves them – where will they be in 5 years time? Making predictions helps your enjoyment and understanding of a story because you are actively engaging with the material. By thinking about what you think will happen, you are forming connections with the text and deepening your understanding of plot devices.

Prompt #023: Compare and contrast two different versions of the same story (e.g. movie vs. book). When you compare a book to its movie, you can see how the director and writers interpreted the story. This can help you understand the book better and enjoy it more. You can also see which elements of the story were changed or left out in the movie. Compare a key scene in both versions – how do the interpretations differ, and which do you prefer?

Reading Journals

Reading Journals

Our reading journals are a popular choice to help guide you through the process of recording your thoughts about each book as well as keeping a log of the book you’ve read.

Prompt #024: Write a monologue from one of the characters’ perspectives. Writing a monologue from one of the characters’ perspectives can help you to get into their minds and understand their motivations. This can be especially helpful when you are trying to write a book review or book journal entry.

Prompt #025: Choose a song that reminds you of the book and write about why. When you choose a song that reminds you of the book, you are linking the emotions and memories that you have with the song to the emotions and memories that you have with the book. This can help to deepen your enjoyment and understanding of the book. It can also help to make the reading experience more personal for you.

Whether you’re a seasoned reader or just starting out, keeping a dedicated book journal can help you get more out of your favourite books.

These prompts are also great to use if you’re not sure what to say about your latest book club read. Use these prompts to help you think about the book in different ways that you might not have thought of. You may find that a book you didn’t think much of reveals a clever plot or deeper meaning that you would have missed otherwise.

Reading Log Benefits

What to read more about the benefits of keeping a reading journal? See our post about the benefits of starting a book log.

Why keeping a reading journal is important

We hope this post has inspired you and it has given you some reading journal ideas for how to write a reading journal of your own. By recording page numbers, characters, thoughts and overall feelings, and other interesting details about the book, readers can connect more with the story and understand it better. Additionally, comparisons and contrasts with other books can be made, as well as connections between the text and personal experiences. The tips we shared are just the beginning – there are countless ways to personalize your journal and make it work for you. So get creative, have fun with it, and happy reading and/or writing!

If you found this blog post helpful, please share these reading journal ideas with your friends & family — you may just inspire them to start a reading journal of their own!

I’d love to hear your reflections on a recent read. Feel free to share an entry in the comments inspired by one of the prompts above!


What is the purpose of reading journals?

Reading journals are a great way to keep track of your reading progress, as well as to document your thoughts and feelings about the books you read. They can also be a fun way to keep track of your reading challenge progress. They’re a great way to document your reading life. At the end of the year, you will have a list of books to reflect on and hopefully some great books to rediscover.

Why are reading journals beneficial to writers and readers?

Reading journals are beneficial to both writers and readers because they help improve comprehension, allow for critical thinking and reflection, and provide a space for avid readers to document their thoughts and feelings about the books they read.

How can recording what I’ve read in a reading journal improve my writing?

One way to improve your writing is by recording what you’ve read in a reading journal. This can help you improve your comprehension, as well as your writing skills. Additionally, it can be a great way to reflect on the books you’ve read and to document your thoughts and feelings about them. They also help to get the creative juices flowing by providing valuable insights into the writing and plotting process employed by the author.

What kind of reading journal should I choose?

The type of reading journal you choose should be based on your personal preferences. Some people prefer to use a physical journal, while others prefer to use an online journal or word document. There are also many different types of reading journals, such as those that focus on book reviews, book journalling, or reading challenge progress. Choose the type of journal that will work best for you and your needs.

Reading Journals

Check out our reading journals available in a range of formats to suit your preferences. Tracking your reading and journalling about books read is a great way to get more from your reading and remember the plot of books read.

Pink and Green Reading Journal

Reading Journal Book

Printable Reading tracker template

Printable Book Log

Digital Reading Journal

Digital Reading Log

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