Why a Book BuJo Is Working for Me (Finally)

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On any given day, I’m reading at least three books: for pleasure, for work, for homeschool, for interviews, etc. It never used to bother me before, but in the last few months, it’s become a bit overwhelming. Too many books, never enough time. (This could also be the title of my life story; I’m sure many of you can relate). This has always been the reason I never do any reading challenges, either — I love to read the prompts, but I always get sidetracked by the necessary reading I have to do, and it just feels like too much.

But in December, I decided to try something new. I’m a big notebook person — there’s nothing I love more than searching for the perfect notebook. You know the one: it will let the words flow, it’ll get you organized and basically solve your life problems and also make everything great. While I have yet to see if this notebook will do all of that, so far it’s been pretty good. I decided to make a book bullet journal, or book bujo. I scrolled Instagram and immediately lost myself in the rabbit hole of bookish stickers, calligraphy, and beautiful spreads with fancy handwriting, washi tape, and colored printouts of book covers.

My book bujo is not that. I tried to do the fancy handwriting, but the best I can do is some sort of script, with some fun highlighting in various colors. But that’s also not the point of my book bujo. Because if something’s too pretty, I don’t want to mess it up. I wanted my bujo to be approachable and basic so I wouldn’t feel bad marking it up.

Customizing the BuJo

I wasn’t sure where to start with the bujo, so the first thing I did was cut up my favorite Bibliophile: Diverse Spines notecards and tape the bookstack pictures into the back pages of the notebook, so I’d have the titles of books I want to eventually get to. (Plus, I just really like looking at the stacks.) I then added a tab and made pages for each month of 2022, with the ARCs I have that are being released each month, so that I can keep track of them, which ones I’ve read, and which ones I need to be reading that are coming up. Because I also have an interview column, I added a page for that, too, with scheduling for each month and potential authors to interview and their books.

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Then I thought, you know? Maybe 2022 is going to be the year I do some challenges. I know I read widely and diversely, but there is always, always room for improvement. So I wanted to push myself to try something different. I started off with the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (of course!) and wrote all those prompts down, with room to write in the books. Then I added some other challenges that I found from various websites and Instagram, and even added some of my own, especially on areas where I know I have a lot of unread books siting around. These included a medical/science book challenge, a Jewish reading challenge, and a homeschool/education reading challenge.

And speaking of unread books…I looked at the books that have been sitting for a while, and grouped them into piles based on topic, and then made lists of genres, with the books I haven’t read yet. These included a list of Star Wars books, essay collections, science fiction/fantasy, science/nature, and history. This way it’s a visual reminder of what books I have that are just sitting there, and I’m hoping it gets me to start making dents in the unread piles.

Putting It Into Practice

While a pretty bujo is nice to look at and racks up the Instagram views, it’s not really serving its purpose if it’s not working for you. So how is my book bujo working, some three months into the year? So far so good, I think.

The ARC date pages have helped me keep track of which books are coming out when, especially with eARCs, which I tend to forget about since they’re not on the shelf when I look at it. When I’m stuck with what to read next (despite all the books clamoring for attention), I’ve been looking through the reading challenges and picking something from there. When I’m done a book, I look through the challenges to see if it fits anywhere and then add it in and check off the prompt.  

Is it making my reading a little less overwhelming? I’m not sure. But it’s really nice to have a visual log of what I’m reading and seeing which prompts and types of stories I’m reading, and which ones I need to think about more. It’s making me consider areas and storylines that I’ve never read, when I see those prompts, and wonder why I haven’t read them before. I like that those prompts are making me think about titles I can try, and often they’re books that I likely wouldn’t pick up otherwise. It’s like how I used to avoid SFF because I thought I didn’t like it — and it turns out I loved it, I just hadn’t really explored the genre before.

So overall, I’d say that the book bujo is doing exactly what it’s supposed to: (mostly) organize my reading, adding some focus to my reading, and getting me to read even more diversely. And because I’m not concerned about making it pretty or nice-looking, I’m really using it — writing down titles I don’t want to forget, crossing out titles, jotting down bookish Instagrams or things to remember, etc. There are plenty of blank pages for me to take notes on a book if I want to, or make new lists on topics, topics I want to pitch, or anything else related to bookish things. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves over the course of the year.

Do you keep a bookish bujo? How do you keep track of your reading challenges?

If you’re looking for bookish bullet journal supplies, check out this post, and this post about bullet journal book spreads to improve your reading.

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