Jot Note Journaling for Those Who Read & Review

Do you have trouble remembering what you read? Know the title but not the author, the setting but not the characters’ names? Can’t recall that great quote or turn of phrase? Looking for examples of exemplary writing and plotting? Wish you had something new to share at your next book group or chapter meeting? Want to write a book review for Amazon, for Goodreads, or for your blog, but the details are foggy or hard to find again? Are you always resending someone else’s amazing quotation post on Facebook and Twitter and wish you had found that quote first?

Then you will love Jot Note Journaling

Keeping a jot note journal will not only help you become a better writer, but also a better reader, reviewer, and promoter of your own work.

But why should I? I just want to read!

Why Should I Keep a Reading Journal

A journal focused on what you are reading can do many things besides help you remember what you read.

    • Itl is a place to capture that special quote or example that you don’t want to forget or that you want to use in a blog post or promo.
    • A entry may may inspire spin off thoughts that inspire your creativity.
    • If you are a writer, you can record elements of structure and style that strike you and that you wish to think about or apply in your own writing.
    • One of the major benefits is that it provides a pre-draft for a book review. Authors are desperate for reviews of their books. Word-of-mouth is considered the best type of publicity. A unknown person providing unsolicited feedback, is more valuable than a review done by a friend or that has been paid for, because it reads as honest.
    • And finally, at the end of the year, you can look back and relive the stories you loved, just by reviewing your journal notes.

    Jot Note Journaling Basics


    • A journal. It can be any size, shape or design – 5” by 8”, 6” by 9”, a standard 8” by 10.5” notebook, plain or fancy. Your choice.
    • A pen or pencil
    • Optional – colored pencils, markers
    • Optional – sticky notes to mark off the different sections.

    STEP 1: Number all the pages

    • No #    Cover or Cover page
    • p. 2      Name & Date page
    • p. 4      About the Reader – Describe who you are, what you like to read, why you’re a reader.

    STEP 2: Create the Following Sections

    Hopes, dreams, plans – What do you hope to learn from what you read? Who are your current favorite writers? What books do you dream of reading for the first-time or all over again? What are your criteria for writing a book review on Goodreads or Amazon or B&N?

    Reading Goals – How many books do you want to read this year? How many book reviews will you write?

    Monthly Reading Goals, Events, or Actions Tentative plans for your monthly reads. Visits to book groups, bookstores, author talks and signings. Reviews. Social media sharing. Number of books to be read/ reviewed. You can also enter books bought, reviews posted. To make a monthly calendar at the start, divide each page into 3 sections. It is not necessary to number in dates unless you want to.

    General Index  -Start at back of journal. Allow at least 6 page sides to list the books read.

    • Record title, author, and book note page numbers for each book read.
    • Optional: Use colors or symbols to differentiate the genres, or pick out particular authors. Add your star rating or other information as you wish.

    The Jot Note System

    The foundation of the journal are the book pages. For each book read, you will be recording the basics and then your thoughts.

    Book Information Record – On LEFT side of page, jot down any of the following information that you feel is important to remember.

    • Date started
    • Date finished
    • Title
    • Author
    • Publisher
    • Awards
    • Where the book is – on your kindle, bookshelf, etc.
    • Genre
    • Theme or Trope
    • Setting
    • Memorable Characters

    Book Notes – on the corresponding RIGHT side of page you will note down anything that catches your fancy—a quote, a clever twist, a description, a personal comment. Be brief. Be sloppy. Be yourself. These notes are for you alone. As you read, keep the journal close by and train yourself to capture a thought or idea or phrase as you read. Here are some things you might want to note down:

    • Quotes, beautiful writing, a perfect description
    • Summary – Fiction: setting, characters, plot, theme or if nonfiction: what you learned
    • Brief notes, sketches, diagrams, or doodles (Feel free to paste in clippings, book reviews by others, etc. too)
    • Your personal STAR rating
    • Your draft review – Here’s a 5 sentence format to try:

    1. A one sentence story summary.

    2. The book’s strength.

    3. One thing that makes it special or memorable.

    4. How you felt or what you learned when you finished the book.

    5. Who you think will love this book.

    Use these notes to write a short review. You can post reviews on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Goodreads, and Bookbub. The last two require free memberships. NOTE: Be a Book Betterer* – only write reviews for books you love. The authors will thank you.

    This Jot Note Reading Journal Is Your Journal

                Remember this journal is for you alone. It can be sloppy, colorful, outrageous, or neat. Feel free to add other sections or information. Be wild. Be creative. Have fun.

    Do you keep a record of what you read? Post your thoughts and comments below.

    2 thoughts on “Jot Note Journaling for Those Who Read & Review

    1. Excellent suggestions! I keep notes while I’m reading a book to review but once I’ve done the review, the only way to go back and find that review is by looking in my computer for “Review of– by–“. A dedicated notebook is a better idea.


      1. So glad you found the idea useful. I have found there are some things computers are good for, and some things they are not. I can make “jot” notes on a book so much faster by hand. The important thing is not to worry about your reading journal being neat and to remember to list the books in the index.

        Liked by 1 person

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