“The memory sometimes is so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way—but our power of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.” —Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
This pensive quote lives snugly within the pages of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park as well as my reading journal. Like the petals of a flower, I have preserved this book quote because I found meaning in it. There’s much to be said for the pleasure of pinning down a good book quote or idea. I’d love to say our memories could keep track of them all.
As Austen reflects, though, memories can be fickle. Much as we’d like to, we can’t escape the erosion of time. Thankfully, we can track our treasure trove of favorite book quotes and ideas in quite a few ways beyond our memories. Whether opting for handwritten, home decor, or more tech-focused preservation styles, I hope one of these methods will prove handy for you!
To collect quotes from books, I prefer to kick it old school by using a notebook as my reading journal. Thankfully, the world is full of notebooks for book lovers.
This library card notebook set melts my librarian heart. They almost make me want to go back to the nostalgia of card catalogues. Almost.
Want to get crafty with your favorite book quotes and ideas? Track them with bullet journaling. The bullet points align in a grid pattern, providing a loose structure to unleash your creative thoughts and doodles.
This artfully designed reading bullet journal makes my own reading journal look like Ron Weasley’s dress robes. In between baking bundt-shaped banana breads while social distancing, I’m going to squeeze in some crafting in my reading journal.
For those who would like more structure to track book quotes and ideas, consider using a reading journal.
Reading log inserts such as these provide you with pages of fill-in-the-blank lines to record your to-read lists, book-ratings, and ideas from each book.
Forgo the inserts if you’d prefer using a journal dedicated to your reading notes. Elizabeth Acevedo just published this delightful journal: Write Yourself a Lantern: A Journal Inspired by the Poet X. Immerse yourself in thoughtful and powerful quotes from The Poet X and get your creative juices flowing as you jot down your own book reflections.
Looking for that meet cute of a reading log and bullet journal? Book Riot has created Book Marks, a guided reading journal, with the purpose “to help you express your love of books in every and any way possible.”
Reading logs, book bingo, and plenty of free space to put your bookish love into words make up just a taste of what Book Marks offers. For more details about Book Marks, read about its recent release.
Within the Book
This may cause some readers to gasp in horror, but another way to keep track of your favorite book quotes and ideas could involve annotating the book itself. I’ll never forget that feeling of hesitant surprise that came over me in college when I realized I could actually write in the textbooks that I owned. If you own the book and this style feels right for you, annotate away! Take a look at this annotating guide for tips.
Home Decor Methods
Notebooks provide plenty of pages to work with, but sometimes, you just want to look at your favorite book quotes without having to go dig around for your notebook. Interspersing your favorite book quotes within your home decor can really add your sense of self to your home. Friends of mine keep a vintage chalkboard hanging at the front entrance of their apartment. Every now and then a new book quote appears on it and really adds to the overall mood they’re trying to set.
If you want to get fancy, you can even get a personalized chalkboard sign, like this one.
Felt Letter Boards
When I was in 5th grade, our class did fight over the privilege to clean the chalkboard (do schools even allow those anymore?).
However, if you’re not feeling up for chalkboard maintenance you could try a felt letter board. There’s something about that dark background and vintage letter font that really makes a book quote pop.
Now if you’re like me and dabbling in embroidery, you could feel very Regency romance era and stitch your favorite book quotes into your home decor!
Cross-stitch not your thing? Etsy’s got you covered with this custom embroidery wall art.
For those with ereaders, you can also annotate within your digital books. In a Wired article McMahon (2017) explains this process on the Kindle, writing, “On a Kindle, you can use the touchscreen to highlight text but referring to them later can be a hassle. Pro tip: you can export everything you’ve selected. Your Kindle creates a .txt file of all your highlights, complete with citations, that you can access from any computer via USB.”
Don’t have an ereader, but considering getting one? This Rioter presents lots of options to think about.
For those who love spreadsheets (you know who you are), you could put one to good use towards your reading. Spreadsheets like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel can provide neat ways for you to keep track of books, quotes, and your reading notes. The sorting functions allow you to organize your sheets alphabetically by author, genre, or any other category of your choosing. Sort to your heart’s content!
Want the organization of a spreadsheet for your book quotes and ideas without having to always squint at tiny columns? Follow this writer’s advice and cozy up to your new best friend Google Forms. Take a few minutes to create a Google Form with simple fields like title, author, favorite quotes, etc. Then, whenever a bookish idea dawns upon you, open up your Google Form and fill in your responses. Your answers will automatically populate into a Google Sheets spreadsheet. It’s like your own personal bookkeeper, pun intended.
I may not always have my reading notebook by my side, but my phone seems to cling to me as closely as my toddler does (when he’s not running off with my phone). Quick and convenient, the Notes app on my phone allows me to type a book quote or idea down in seconds. The app has become my black hole of things I can’t forget.
Don’t have an iPhone or iPad? Google Keep, a list-making app, can help. Using OCR (optical character recognition), Google Keep can digitize the text in a picture you’ve taken. Next time you see a good book quote, snap a picture, and let Google Keep work its magic. For further instructions, read this step-by-step guide.
For those who like the OCR aspect of Google Keep, but would like to play around with the aesthetics of their favorite book quotes, try the app Postepic. In a TechCrunch article, Natasha Lomas (2017) discusses how the app works, stating, “Postepic users can now lift the words off the page, capturing and editing the text and its visual presentation by choosing from a selection of fonts and backgrounds.” Avoid the tedium of typing out a quote by editing a picture of it in Postepic to share with your friends. Lomas describes the app as “an ‘Instagram for book quotes’.”
I’ll never forget the day a friend of mine introduced me to Goodreads. It felt like stepping through the wardrobe into a Narnia of book fandom. (Yes, social distancing has me rewatching the Narnia movies). This social app for book lovers allows you to track what you’re reading, write reviews, and share favorite quotes. You can browse quotes by category, or add in the quote yourself. The quotes become a part of your profile, where you can have fun ranking them like you used to with your MySpace top friends.
Another fun social media app for bibliophiles, Litsy allows you to share favorite quotes, reviews, and reflections on books to a community of readers. Like Postepic, this app has that engaging, Instagram feel.
You can also keep track of book quotes and ideas in any of your other favorite social media apps. Create a book quote pinboard on Pinterest. Decorate blocked quotes in Facebook statuses, or tweet them out to your followers on Twitter. Arrange artsy book displays and reflections on Instagram, or share your thoughts on Tumblr or YouTube. For inspiration, review these teen book bloggers, Bookstagrammers, and Booktubers.
Looking to write about books in more than approximately 280 characters? Pull a Julie Powell from Julie & Julia (no, I’m not currently watching that movie on Netflix) and try your hand at blogging.
If you’re unsure of what blogging platform to use, take a look at this article’s helpful infographics to compare sites. If you’d like to get your feet wet in book blogging, browse this list of book blogs from the New York Public Library.
Curious for more information on the process of book journaling or some examples? Check out this Rioter’s guide on how to get started. I hope you gain that sense of delight upon finding the perfect outlet to express your creative, literary thoughts.