Monday, November 21, 2022

Creating a Reading Log in Your Journal

By Olivia Gaines, USA Today Bestselling Author  

To be a great writer, one must first be a great reader. Each year, I meander over to my Goodreads page and enter the reading challenge. I spend a great deal of time in my head, creating these amazing imaginary worlds, which often hinder my time to read. Yet, it never fails, I enter the annual reading challenge and set my goals low. I have entered 36 books. This equates to 3 books per month which is totally doable.  

I discovered, much to my chagrin, that which was not doable was a writer, stuck in one mode. A mode centered on one or two genres, neither of them in romance. Then it hit me, hard, to my solar plexus, this idea so ingenious, I wanted to make out with myself. I’m going to buy a journal to layout out my entire year as an author. In this journal of wonderful beauty, I shall create a reading log for the entire year.  

The reading log, to end all reading logs will ensure, that as I look back over my year, my quarter, or my month, I have crossed the spectrums in Genreville in my reading journey.  

So first, let’s make sure I have a handle on the genres. Here is my list of fiction book genres:  

Fantasy                           Adventure                Romance  

Contemporary               Dystopian                 Mystery  

Horror                              Thriller                      Paranormal  

Historical fiction           Science Fiction        Children’s  


This is good; now how about non-fiction genres? List of nonfiction book genres:  

Memoir                            Cookbook                  Art  

Self-help                          Development            Motivational  

Health                             History                      Travel  

Guide / How-to               Families & Relationships  



Okay, this is great, a lot of variety. Next, I needed to section off an area in the back of my journal. For our purposes, you can use a simple A5 Dot grid journal. I selected six pages in total.  

My cover page for my reading journal needed to be special. I already possessed this rubber book stamp from Deep Red. A rubber stamp with lines, along with a set of alphabet stamps I found at my local Tuesday Morning for five dollars. Armed with these tools, I sat down, prepared to create magic.  


Washi tape.  

I have more washi tape than any woman should and I figured now would be a very good time to get rid of this stuff, so I pulled out any literary washi I possessed, and now, I was ready to work.  

Since I am well known for being a bit extra, I added a bit extra to my pages, and this is still a work in progress. The entirety of 2023 is in front of me so I don’t want to be saddled with simply one quote, I must have room for several. I even left myself a bit of white space for a coffee quotation or a label of some very fancy and delicious roasted blend. I can cut it out, and paste it into my journal. 

Speaking of cutting out, I used a tool, similar to an Exacto to cut around the stamped books, creating the opening on the page underneath to stamp in, read, and review.  

The read and reviews are actually on the page under the cover page, which will lead us to my review section. This section is critical. Here is where I shall set my criteria for my review scores of books read in 2023.  

I have no idea what my criteria will be for a five-star book. Does the book need to have a plot that makes me cry, or have such sensual scenes where I feel as if the author has caressed my cheek with the wings of a southbound fairy belonging to a northland clan? I’m not sure, but I have about six weeks to work it all out. This is how it looks. Please noe the cutout on the left part of the page from the book stamp on the cover page. No way to make that not be awkward. I call it a plot twist!  

As I clearly stated earlier in this post, I am known for being extra. I didn’t simply want a list because, in my later life, I developed some form of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder and will quickly walk away from anything requiring too much work. Therefore, I made my reading challenge into a game.  

I didn’t want a list.  

Lists are boring.  

I need a bit more.  

I need an actual bookshelf!  

(This is me rumbling through my bag of journaling stencils. Insert my surprised face here, excited to find said bookshelf stencil in A5 size. Screenshot my happy face being ever so pleased with myself and having the wherewithal to buy something two years ago that I have not used until now. Scrap all of that and include a pic of the stencil set).  

In my journaling pack of stencils, I located the bookshelf stencil. This is the layout of the six pages, when complete are actually 8 front to back.  

  1. Cover page with book stamp.  
  2. Page inside with the ranking system  
  3. Page right side with the book listing.  
  4. Page left side, bookshelf.  
  5. Cut down  three quarters  
  6. Cut down three quarters  
  7. Cut down three quarters  
  8. Page right side, bookshelf reversed.  

    I know you read all of that and said, what? She is so extra!  

    In all fairness, didn’t I warn you? In writing, it looks complicated. In reality, it’s so simple that once I show you these images, you will say, oh, wow! That’s so simple.  

    Ready? See the stenciled bookshelf? I stamped in the flower pot, but you can doodle it in as well. The center pages are to ensure in my snapshot of the month, I have read in more than one genre. The right side is actually the same stencil, minus the banner, and flipped over, putting the shelves in reverse order. 


The beauty of this, and to keep myself engaged, is each book spine, I get to decorate along with the title of the book. I know right! Happy reading.  


Author Bio  

Olivia is a USA Today Best Selling, Emma Award, and multiple award-winning author who loves a good laugh coupled with some steam, mixed in with a man and woman finding their way past the words of "I love you." An author of contemporary romances, she writes heartwarming stories of blossoming relationships filled with heart and humor. The Technicians, The Blakemore Files, and the Modern Mail Order Brides, are one clicks for thousands of readers.

When Olivia is not writing, she enjoys quilting, playing Scrabble online against other word lovers and spending time with her family. She is an avid world traveler who writes many of the locations into her stories. Most of the time she can be found sitting quietly with pen and paper plotting more adventures in love.

Olivia lives in Hephzibah, Georgia with her husband, son, grandson and snotty evil cat, Katness Evermean.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is excellent!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Reading is the best writer exercise and this is a great way to stay focused on reading.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Elizabeth and Olivia - that is a work of book and reading love ... brilliant way to remember things ... Happy Thanksgiving - cheers Hilary