Want to start reading journal or tracker for 2021? Here’s how (not) to do it.

power up your readings and document those feelings

Hello friends!
Welcome to 2021 – another year to make an ambitious TBR and then rush through it on the last week of December. 🙂

As in all the years, recently I browsed my Read List in the past 2-3 years, upon which I realize:
a. that I cannot remember what half of the books in the list are about, and
b. I didn’t get why I rate a book 5 stars or other 2 stars.
c. it also happened on the books I wrote review on. So if someone suddenly ask me why I said that this book is so and so, sorry friends I might not be able to answer it before re-reading some parts of the book.

These made me reflect my reading and reviewing habits through the year.
Here’s how my journey looks like:

One. When I started blogging, I kept daily reading journal, bought stickers in many colors, and made my reading tracker as pretty as possible. I managed to do this for 2 or 3 months before abandoning it altogether when I had reading slump. Pros: it’s good to look at even if it’s not of much use for me these days.

Two. After abandoning the first tracker, I went without any physical tracker and tried to use Goodreads to record my thought as I read. It lasted a book. Oh well.

Three. I decided to create a quote keeper since I love saving words and quotes. In the meantime, I procured a monthly tracker notebook to keep my blogging and reading organized. It went okay for 2 months until real life caught up with me and when I took hiatus from blogging, so is my reading tracker.

Four. I finally had enough of keeping everything separate and had a blank notebook as both my reading and reviewing journal.
Now, here’s what I did wrong: I wrote my reading journal in the format of writing review. The upside of this is it saves time because then I just referenced it when writing my blogpost. The downside of it is this is a spoiler-free review and as such I cannot get into specifics. You can imagine what happened when I read my own writing that said: the secondary characters were not very well written and did not have that much depth to them, and I cannot even remember who they are. El O el.

So now, I’m on my fifth phase. I realized belatedly that there are things you need to consider about before starting a reading journal. I’m sharing them here so you do not have to go four stages of failing in reading journal-ing like I did.

  1. Decide on your objective of keeping a journal.
    Now I know that sounds like a duh of course, but also do you really? I didn’t think about why would I need one when I first started, I just did it because everyone else doing it and it (theirs) look amazing and eh why not. But you should have one and it doesn’t even have to be that ambitious. Do you keep a journal to encourage yourself to read more? Then maybe a page tracker or even goodreads might work. Do you want to diversify your reading, try to read more of different POV, author, or genre? A reading list may suffice and it wouldn’t take much of your time. Do you want to ensure you remember years from now why you read a book and why you love or hate it with a passion? Then reading journal is for you.
  2. Determine how much time and effort can you commit to it.
    I love watching videos of other people’s creative reading journal on youtube. They look so pretty and make me wanted one as well. But know this: those reading journals take effort. Trust me I tried. And not everyone is that passionate in making things look amazing. Take for example, me. I love SEEING beautiful bullet journals, but my own is plain as hell. It’s written on a traveler’s notebook with a black or blue ink, but I managed to stay on it for more than 2 years now.
    If you like being creative with your journal and can commit to making it look good, then go for it! I’m looking forward to see it in your blog or bookstagram or booktube.
    But if you cannot, then in all honesty black on white paper with a lot of scratches and notes written all over it is COMPLETELY OKAY. Don’t get burden with the need to make it looks as good as the others.
  3. Be specific when writing.
    When you wrote “her prose is expertly written” try to give some examples. Similarly, when you called out a problematic relationship during your reading, make a note in your journal why. Quotes and Names are things I often forgot to write about in my journal, but you definitely want them written as a reminder.
    As I said before, it’s frustrating to read my journal and still cannot remember why I said this or that. Always give examples.
  4. Do it daily. Or not.
    Seriously it’s up to you. I try to do it daily because I don’t have that long memory span. But some might prefer to write it when they finish a book so they can write more comprehensive thought. Others prefer to have reaction journal when they write short blurb and reactions whilst reading. Any way you do, be sure to also implement number 6.
  5. Make use of the tools available to you when reading.
    Depends on the format of the books you read, there’ll be tools to annotate or bookmark a specific quote or reaction. For example, I read mostly ebooks these days, and ebook reader applications usually have tool to highlight specific parts and make notes. I utilize this heavily because I don’t want to interrupt my reading to write on my journal but I also don’t want to lose these quotes or facts that I found so fascinating. Similarly, if your reading a physical book you can use bookmarks or paper receipts or whatever available to mark these pages. Audiobook usually also have similar tool to bookmark parts you want to come back later.
    Later you can look them up when you write your journal.
  6. Be flexible to change.
    When starting you might think you want to write a comprehensive review of each and every main and secondary characters in the book, but 2 months later you might find this overwhelming. So change it, get rid of the things you cannot commit on or you no longer find joy on. Implement and experiment new things in your reading journal.
    Oftentimes, I see people struggle to keep their journal even if it feels like a chore because they always write it that way. They might eventually quit journal-ing altogether because of this. Don’t let it happen to you.

Okay, so that was it. My journey into making reading journal and tips I share to help so you do not repeat my mistakes.
Currently, I’m going back to simple tracker and short log because I realize I want to keep the highlights that resonate strongly with me but am not able to spare time to document all my thoughts into comprehensive reading journal.

If you’re interested, I uploaded the printable templates here for reading tracker and reading log. These are A5 size, very simple, minimalist template I’ve been using myself. You can print it on those blank A5 loose leaf paper like me, or print them as two=pages on one sheet in A4 paper.

Click the links below to download
Click to download my reading log printable template
Click to download my reading tracker printable template

So let me know in the comments:

Are you keeping a reading journal yourself and what parts you enjoy the most?
Are you planning to keep a reading journal and what are your concerns?

Happy reading and have fun reading journal-ing or tracking or whatever it is you want to do! 🙂

My 2016 Reading Goals

For the last 3 years, I’ve been participating in Goodreads reading challenge. This year is no exception, I’m doing the Goodreads reading challenge and setting my goal at 55 books. In 2015, I managed to read 54 books due to reading slump that hits me on January – June (is it a slump if it lasted 6 months? lol), so this year I’m aiming higher.

However, this year I also want to diversify my reading so I join the Book Riot read harder challenge. This challenge consists of 24 tasks and … I have to say that this will definitely be challenging to me, but that’s where the fun is at, right?

I also add two other reading goals, mostly for fun.

The first one is to read all Brandon Sanderson’s published works. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will definitely know that I’ve become mildly obsessed with his books. Originally, I thought this goal is going to be easy seeing that I’ve read many books of his. But NOPE. It turns out that this author has a total of 35 published works in the span of 10 years since Elantris (his first published novel). And there’s also the problem of The Wheel of Time.

The last goal is what I’ve been calling The Door-stopper Reading Challenge. Basically, you try to read as many door-stopper books as possible. I defined door-stopper books as books with 1000+ pages, but it cannot be a bundle or a collection of stories. This idea came to me because I am that person who takes into consideration the ratio of number of pages to price when buying a book. I know, I know, quantity doesn’t guarantee quality, but when I am in love with a book I don’t want it to ever end. I’m sure you know what I meant. So yes, door-stopper reading challenge.

Last, but not least, because this year I have a resolution to being more organized, I’m keeping tracks of all these goals (minus the GR challenge) on a special page HERE. I even made tables and all that.


Let me know, are you doing any reading challenge this year? What are they?

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10 Phases of My Reading Life


I was planning to post this at the beginning of the month, but I … didn’t. At least it’s still November, which is my birthmonth. As I’m getting older, I reflect back on my reading habits growing up.

As soon as I stop holding a book upside down, my mom has been supplying me with books, starting from those picture books, Disney stories, kids magazine, and all the stuff I could no longer recall. My earliest memory of being obsessed with books was of a series called:

The Famous Five
Phase One

It was of course the translated edition of The Famous Five (I didn’t understand English back then, and even now…). I remember wanting to go on adventure with them, eating sandwich, and drink lemonade. I still have The Famous Five books in my shelf (the English version) and I still like to look at them for no reasons.

As I get older, I became interested in other things besides adventure. That is when I started reading:

The Baby-Sitters Club
Phase Two

I used to WORSHIP Claudia Kishi. She was like the coolest person ever and I wanted to be Claudia when I grow up. I reread each book in The Baby-Sitters Club multiple times, although I never own the complete series. I memorized the name of all the Pikes and the name of each kid they babysat.

Alas, nothing last forever. So did my obsession with The Baby-Sitters Club. Before I knew it, I moved on to:

Malory Towers
Phase Three

*shrug* I was raised by Enid Blyton, okay. Anyway, there was a time in my life when I dreamed of going to girls-only boarding school and doing all the pranks and become best friend with Alicia.

This phase lasted only briefly because I discovered:

Fear Street and Detective Stories
Phase Four

Soon after, I entered a prolonged phase when all I read was either Fear Street or detective novels, from “Three Investigators” to STOP (the original title is TKKG). I would beg my parents for new Fear Street books everytime we went to bookstore, some times buying two or three books at once.

As I grew up, I stopped reading these books altogether and started reading:

Sweet Valley High
Phase Five

Ah that blissful feeling that you are now old enough to buy and read Sweet Valley HIGH, and not SV Kids or Twins. This was a hormonal phase I think.. because looking back, I didn’t really like the drama in this series that much. :p

I got over it when at one point I was fed up with some of the characters. So I journeyed to the library and that was where I found:

Harry Potter
Phase Six

That’s right, I actually discover Harry Potter in my school library. (Thank you librarians, I forgot your names but you’re awesome!) Theoretically, I AM still in Phase Six. I never got over my HP phase. 😀 If anything, Harry Potter is the one that starts it all, my journey through the middle grade and then young adults shelves. Back then, there was nothing that could beat the excitement of queueing to get the new Harry Potter books. I still would.

Legal Thriller, Crime, and Mystery
Phase Seven

Near the time when Harry Potter ended, I stumbled upon John Grisham’s The Firm in the bookstore (I totally didn’t buy it because Tom Cruise was on the cover). I plowed through it and soon I’ve read most of his books although I stay away from the contemporary ones. I also read other thriller books, although my favorites are the ones with a lot of courtroom drama. Oh, and during this phase, I also became slightly obsessed with Agatha Christie’s books. I particularly like the last chapter during which Hercule Poirot would boast his otherworldly observation skill. But I also enjoy her Miss Marple books.

Michael Crichton and An Introduction to Sci-Fi
Phase Eight

During my college years, I started reading Michael Crichton. I started like almost everybody else, with Jurassic Park, but in my opinion his best book was either Sphere or The Great Train Robbery. I love how Crichton took his time to do a thorough research before writing his book. I know that his writing style is not for everyone, but I enjoy his books very much.
This phase didn’t last long, mostly because Crichton didn’t have that many books. I do, however, still like to read good sci-fi books if anyone would point it out to me.

Young Adults Fantasy
Phase Nine

I AM NOT SURE HOW I GET HERE!? Maybe it started with Harry Potter, with a boost from Percy Jackson, but I’m pretty sure it was Cassandra Clare’s fault. Yup, I became an avid YA Fantasy novels since I read The Mortal Instruments. Since then, I read her friends’ books (namely, Holly Black’s and Sarah Rees Brennan’s) and one of my tumblr friends made me a list of all young-adults fantasy novels I should read before I die (she didn’t call it that, but I’m pretty sure that’s what she meant). For years, I read almost nothing else.

But then I realized that hey, maybe I want to read something else too… And that led me to:

Phase Ten

I am still very much a fan of fantasy books, but I try to balance it by reading at least one contemporary novel each month, and I also try my hand at reading classics. Surprisingly, I found myself loving Pride and Prejudice. I am currently trying to get through Jane Eyre, but I got distracted a lot so yeah… I like to think that my reading habit has become more diverse, but let’s be real, I’m still far away from becoming a diverse reader.

How about you? Did you go through any of these phases yourself? Or did you grow up reading something totally different than me? Let me know below and let’s go back down the memory laaane (I totally sing that in Tom Fletcher’s voice).

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