Disclosure: A Tour Through My Very Basic Bullet Journal contains affiliate links. If you buy any books through my Blackwell links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! My bullet journal was previously gifted to me by Page Anchor. I highly recommend it but unfortunately they are sold out at the moment!
I have spent far too many hours browsing through gorgeous bullet journal spreads on Pinterest. Only later do I realise I can barely draw a straight line and these spreads are far beyond my capabilities. I have a very basic bullet journal. There are some things even I can’t manage to fuck up. A bookshelf for example. A big rectangle filled with smaller rectangles with the titles of the books I’ve read written inside them. Two bar charts showing pages read and hours listened to per month. A list of authors whose backlist I want to read in its entirety. These are all things I can manage. They’re also, I think, just as satisfying to look at as the intricate spreads on Pinterest.
No one asked, but I wanted to get back into writing again and my basic bullet journal makes me happy, so today you’re getting a tour through said basic bullet journal. I only started this journal in December 2020 so I don’t have any particularly insightful tips. The only thing I can say with certainty is do everything in pencil first before going over it in fineliner. I promise, if you attempt to draw a straight line in pen without doing it in pencil first, you will 100% fuck it up. I’ve been there.
Also, a massive shout out to @readingwithkt on Instagram – her beautiful videos and photos of her bullet journal inspired me to finally stick with my own journaling!
Without further ado, let’s dive into my basic bullet journal!
This is without a doubt the most satisfying feature of my journal! Every time I finish a book, I add it to this bookshelf. The colour of the spine corresponds to the colour I tracked the pages or hours with. I have recently started matching those to one of the main colours of the book itself – the littlest things bring me joy these days.
I originally thought about making a separate shelf or spread for audiobooks, but in the end, they are all books! Plus, I’m lazy and this is a basic bullet journal. Sometimes really long titles (looking at you, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters) can throw me off, but I’m not averse to just using the acronym for the title in some cases!
Monthly Pages and Hours Tracker
What does it say about me that one of my favourite times of day is sitting down in the morning and adding in the previous day’s pages and hours count? It’s beyond satisfying. I have my maximums set at 400 pages and 4 hours apiece. Unless I’m doing some sort of readathon at the weekend, it’s highly unlikely I’ll read more than that in a day!
According to February’s average, I read 130 pages a day and listened to just over an hour of my audiobook each day. The page count average is right, but my audiobook time definitely varies more between weekdays and the weekend. Usually on a weekday I only listen while washing up and cooking, whereas on weekends I listen and cross stitch.
I find it super interesting to see patterns and discrepancies in my daily reading looking at these charts. I can pinpoint when I took part in readathons, when I got hooked on a new TV show and forgot how to read for three days… everything! As you can see I have the title on the left-hand page, colour-coordinated with the bar chart. That way I can quickly see when I was reading a particular book, how many pages I read a day, and how many days total it took me!
This is probably one of the most basic parts of my basic bullet journal! Something I like to do is read one book by an author and quickly become obsessed with reading everything they’ve ever written. It may take me years and I like to spread them out, but I have tonnes of authors whose backlists I eventually want to complete! I’m almost done with a few (Zadie Smith [only Intimations left], Ali Smith, Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood), but I decided on three to complete in 2021: Marie Ndiaye, Yōko Ogawa and Bernardine Evaristo.
As you can see, I haven’t even started on Evaristo yet! I read Girl, Woman, Other in 2020 and it was my favourite book of the year. So naturally I want to read the rest of her books. I’ll probably start those in the latter half of 2021.
Yōko Ogawa I plan to complete within the next two months. Marie NDiaye will likely take all year because some of her books are quite hard to find!
I do actually have another ~basic bullet journal tip~ – highlighter over fineliner will smudge the tip of your highlighter. I learned the hard way. I’m stuck with it for these pages, but for other pages I write out the title in pencil, highlight it, then go over the pencil in fineliner.
Books in Other Books
This is a new thing I’ve just started! I always love it when I’m reading a book and another book I’ve either read or want to read is mentioned in passing or even talked about in depth. Writing down quotes is something I always want to do and never actually go through with, so this is a starting point. I’m not writing down every instance of another book mentioned, only ones which I’ve personally read or want to read.
I know @eatingtheirwords has a series she does on Instagram with this concept and it’s very cool! When I was reading Open Water, I loved the main character’s constant references to Zadie Smith, one of my favourite authors, especially NW. There were plenty of quotes about her I could have written down, but I loved this one about the books we return to.
Then I was reading What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons and it mentioned Minty Alley by CLR James. Just a couple of weeks ago, Penguin UK launched Black Britain: Writing Back. It’s a series of pioneering books by Black British authors which deserve revisiting, all with new introductions by Bernardine Evaristo. Minty Alley is among them, and all six are on my wish-list! (If you’re interested, the other titles are The Fat Lady Sings, Incomparable World, Without Prejudice, The Dancing Face and Bernard and the Cloth Monkey.)
Thanks for reading!
I hope you enjoyed this mini tour through my mini bullet journal! If I add any new regular pages, I might do another one.