How do you keep track of the books you’ve read?

In the past I have used only Goodread then I added blog posts and in 2022 I tried a reading journal. I kept it simple (and small) because I wasn’t sure what I would put in it or if I would keep up with it. Turned out I wanted to keep a lot in there and kept up with it. Mostly. I usually went in at the end of the month and updated.

For 2023, I decided to do a larger, more creative journal and went with an 8×8 journal from Archer and Olive. I liked the unique size and have already learned a few things from making spreads and not being 100% in love with them. 

Every spread is a chance to learn something and boy have I learned a few things!

I started off with a quote that resonated with me after reading about a million of them on books and reading. I made my first error on page one. 😆 I thought I had measured to fit it all on one page, nope. I had to pivot and spread it across two pages but I already started. So instead of reading across the spread, you have to read side one and then side two.

Instead of “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them” across the spread you get “Never trust bought anyone a book who has not with them” DOH

I added some “old book” pages I tore and pasted to the page to give it a little more decorative element.

In my previous reading journal, I wrote out series on their own page but when I was looking at spreads I kept seeing people tracking series on one page. I put together a spread with the name of the series, the author, and the number of books in each series. As I finish a book in the series, I use a dot marker to cross it off. It’s a simple spread but I love how it turned out! If I finish the journal before the spread, I will carefully cut it out and put it in my next reading journal!

Next, I created a spread for my physical book TBR (to be read) takedown. These are all the physical (not kindle) books I own and want to read through. I tried to make them look similar to old library cards but it was a struggle. I used stamps for the Title heading. I sorted the cards into categories, one for all my fiction books, and then I grouped my non-fiction book by what they are about (art, fashion, fitness, etc). Each card has three columns, one to X when I finish the book, title, and the date I finished 

I created a spread to track my pre-orders because I always forget about them! I probably won’t fill this page up but I really like how it turned out. I made columns for the date ordered, title, the release date, and shipped with room to check when I receive it. 

My 2023 goal page is another mistake I learned what not to do! The square page was too big to fill as a bookshelf spread. I had a lot of extra room since my annual goal is 52 books. What I should have done was create a scene. The bookshelf should have taken up about half the page then I could have put a comfy chair with a blanket, a lamp, and some wall art. I can see it in my head and it would have been super cute!

After the bookshelf, I did a two-page spread for all owned books TBR takedown. This one turned out exactly how I envisioned it but it was a little tedious. For each month, I will put in how many books I owned on the first of the month. Then I can fill in how many books I purchased that month (haul), how many I read from books I owned (not counting library or Amazon Prime books), and my net. The goal is for the owned book number to get smaller each month!

After that, we move into the monthly spreads. I created a list of some of my favorite books or series and picked 12 to be my monthly themes for the year. I started brainstorming colors and design elements for each month. 

For January I started with Nancy Drew. It is one of the first books I ever remember reading. When I was little, my dad and I would read Nancy Drew books to each other. I have been hooked on mysteries, thrillers, and true crime ever since. For the theme colors, I went with blue and yellow and for the elements, I went with the iconic cameo and magnifying glass.

One thing I learned for January is do not do the black writing and then try to color yellow around it. Color then write.

I drew out the spine of a Nancy Drew book because to me that is the iconic look. I named it “The Mystery of January” to show the month. I added a large magnifying glass to write how many books I read in the month. On the next page, I did a reading tracker for days I read versus don’t read. I got this idea from Jess at JashiiCorrin. I decided to use dot markers in my monthly colors to mark the days.

I made a magnifying glass border below the tracker and made space to fill in four or five books read for the month with columns for the title, the author, and my rating. I don’t usually finish more than four or five books a month so it should be enough room.

On the next page, I split the page into four to write my review. I usually jot down a few notes in my journal about my thoughts and expand on them in the blog post for the month. The final page has room for notes or additional book reviews if needed. 

And on the bottom, I did my January book bracket. The four books I read faceoff against each other until a winner is declared for best book of the month. At the end of the year, I will do a bracket for all of the top books from the year to declare my book of the year. 

If I read more than four books, I will have the top four faceoff. How do I determine the top four? By the ratings I gave them. If four had four or five stars and one had three stars, the three stars is out of the competition. If there is a tie for the two least-liked books? I can determine pretty easily which one I liked marginally better. 

At the end of the year, I am planning to add my book of the year bracket. I was also thinking about doing a year end summary, maybe with some additional stats like how many owned books I read, how many library books, audiobooks, etc. I may also pull some info from the Goodreads summary like total page numbers. 

What other books and series am I going with this year?

After brainstorming a large list I decided to go with these 12 because they stuck out to me with either strong memories of reading them or just really love the book (or maybe both). The other months will be: The Great Gatsby, Lullaby, The Secret Garden, Little House on the Praire, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Shining, The Sun Down Motel, Harry Potter, Psycho, Run Rose Run, and The Devil Wears Prada.

What books would you use for monthly themes and why? What are some spreads that you would use? I know there are a lot of ideas out there and I’d love to hear what is important to you! What would you track or add in a year-end summary?

Would you be interested in a Runs on Reading book club? I am planning to launch a discord and was thinking of including a monthly book club where we pick a book and then discuss it in the discord! 

In the meantime, you can always join my monthly newsletter because I often will mention the last book I finished and a few thoughts. Join now. 


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.