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Bullet Journal Tips and Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)

Listeners to the podcast know that a relatively new hobby for me is bullet journaling! I just started the bullet journal adventure last December, so I've been doing it for almost a year now. I was a little intimidated to start and honestly wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it or stick with it, but I absolutely love it! When thinking about gift ideas (which we're featuring in this week's episode, so be on the lookout for that this Wednesday), I realized that the things I've enjoyed the most have all been related to my bullet journal hobby. Additionally, bullet journaling can be a perfect companion for book lovers. There are quite a few ways that you can create spreads that relate to your reading journal. Here are a few quick ideas of spreads for book lovers.

Book Lover Bullet Journal Spreads

  • TBR shelves - You can make lists or bookshelves that list your TBR hopefuls. This can be done through a calendar view (especially helpful if you're reading a lot of ARCs!) or as an actual bookshelf.

  • All of Your Books for the Year - Some bujo fans create a full spread that features their books of the year! That is quite intimidating to me, but I love the idea.

  • Books for the Month - This is one of the few bookish things I actually do in my spreads. (I mostly use my bullet journal to keep my life functioning. 😂) I absolutely love making a one page spread for each month (I always do three shelves and draw some books on each shelf, which is way easier than you might think because the dots make it easy to create rectangles), and I list all of my current reads as titles on the books and then color them in when I finish. This is seriously one of my most favorite things about my journal!

  • Book Quotes - This is a recent addition to my month - I just put a few quotes on a page from the books I'm currently reading. Nothing fancy, but it's fun!

What to Buy to Get Started with Your Bullet Journal

Here are a few ideas of items that helped me get started. Etsy has TONS of great options (and check out Wednesday's episode show notes for a few specific suggestions), but I'm sharing a few things from Amazon that have been gifted to me that I absolutely love. In general, two HUGE helpful things are stencils and stickers. I don't use stickers in mine (yet!), but I absolutely love using stencils. Okay, a few quick picks:

  • This stencil set is a great starter set. There are tons of them like this, but the key things for me are that they be a translucent white (which helps you see the dots so that you can line things up) and that they be sturdy enough to not bend when you trace.

  • I love everything I've gotten from Sunny Streak, and they have a great Etsy shop but also sell things on Amazon. This is the weekly set I have from them. I love the honeycomb layout!

  • Washi tape is also a fun way to create dividers and add color to your pages. Here's a nice set. I don't use it much in my journal spreads (yet), but my girls LOVE it!

  • I loved this journal, and it was a great low cost way to try out bullet journaling. The pages are nice and thick, so you can't see the designs on the back side of the paper. The only downside for me was that I ran out of pages in September. I then got this other one, which I love in most ways, but the pages are THIN. I didn't like that at first but have gotten used to it. In all other aspects, it's lovely - tons of pages, nice bookmarks, and a pocket in the back for mementos.

  • I also use these notebooks for my everyday needs. They are my favorite for taking notes and for meetings. They'd be great for a bullet journal, but I prefer to have ones that lay flat so that I can easily see both sides at once.

  • I always use Micron pens for my journals. I prefer the 05 size. Here's a set of black pens, and this is a nice color set.

  • I've slowly been incorporating more colors into my spreads. I love Tombow markers the best, and these dual brush ones are amazing. (Thanks to Jen and Sara for giving me a set; that's how I discovered them!)

  • This storage case organizer (again from Sunny Streak!) is amazing for keeping up with all of your journal supplies. I bought this for our trip and have loved it for travel, but I will definitely be using it back at home as well. Sunny Streak also has a great website where you can buy things directly and a great newsletter with lots of good ideas and beautiful pics, so that might be a good place to get some ideas.

The biggest advice I'd give to would-be, could-be bullet journalers is JUST START. It's low stakes. Try it for a week, try it for a month. Try making one book shelf. I was so intimidated, but I got some great ideas from Instagram (and bookish friends kindly DMed me with pics of their spreads and with suggestions, which was so nice). There's a huge, supportive BuJo community on Instagram, so check that out if you're on there! I just tried making one spread at a time for a couple of weeks last December, and after that, I knew I had picked up something that would be with me for a long time to come. It's one of my favorite hobbies!

Happy journaling! Let me know how it goes.

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