Review: Bullet Journal Edition 2

I’ve been bullet journaling for several years now and have blogged about my practice a couple times. But I’ve never discussed my materials, because really, all you need to start a bullet journal is a notebook and a writing utensil. (This is probably a good time to mention that if you aren’t familiar with the Bullet Journal method, the rest of this post probably won’t make much sense to you. But I encourage you to check it out, if you’re interested!)

When (Bullet Journal creator) Ryder Carroll unveiled the official Bullet Journal Edition 2 late last year, I knew I had to try it. I managed to snag a blush pink notebook and I’ve been using it for a little over a month now.

This notebook is currently sold out, but it’s set to restock soon, so I hope this review is helpful to anyone thinking about buying it!

In the past, I’ve used the regular Leuchtturm1917 A5 dot grid notebook as my bullet journal, so that’s my point of reference. The official Bullet Journal is a modification of this style.

Below, I’ll break down the features of the official Bullet Journal and how I feel about them (“Good,” “Meh,” or “Bad”), comparing them to the regular Leuchtturm A5 if relevant. Note: These ratings are just my opinion, shared to hopefully give you some insight into whether you might like this notebook. What I see as a not-so-great feature might be a plus for you!

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Bullet Journal branding: Good

I love the simply embossed “BULLET JOURNAL” on the cover of this notebook. It’s subtle enough to avoid drawing attention to itself, but present enough to remind me of the meaning behind this practice each time I open my notebook. The paper jacket that explains the new features is well-designed, and it’s clear a lot of care went into this presentation.

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Grid Guide: Meh

I love the idea of a grid guide—basically, a “cheat sheet” page that marks where to separate a page into halves, thirds, quarters, et cetera—but I don’t feel like it does much stuck inside the front cover. I’d much rather have a removable grid guide on a transparent sheet that I can lay over any page of my notebook to quickly divide it up into rows or columns. In fact, I might make something like that for myself.

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Key, Intentions, Index, and Future Log: Meh

I believe these are features of the Bullet Journal Edition 1, too, and I imagine they’re helpful for anyone starting out. Personally, I don’t need a key, and I usually use only two pages for each my Index and Future Log (which are each allocated 4 pages in this notebook), so I’m not sure if I will be taking full advantage of these pages. I did appreciate the dedicated space for intentions, though, and I will carry that practice forward with me.

Smart Grid: Good

This is one of my favorite features in Edition 2. Subtle dots at the inner and bottom edge of each page’s grid allow you to quickly divide a page into halves or thirds (or quarters, or sixths…). It’s drastically cut down on my time spent counting dots and is intuitive to use once I identified the extra dots. The Smart Grid might be the single most compelling reason to choose this notebook over another one, in my opinion.

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Page Status bullet: Good

I am still figuring out how I want to use this feature, but I love the idea of a single bullet that you can use to determine, at a glance, whether a page requires your attention in the moment or what it’s for. Although I don’t do my Daily Reflection/Monthly Migration exactly like the original Bullet Journal method, I’ve still found it useful to X out this bullet on my Daily Log pages when I’ve completed all my tasks. For my other Collections, I want to color-code this bullet somehow, I just haven’t nailed down my system yet. Also, the page numbers are now centered above this bullet, which is a nice touch.

Larger Margins: Meh

This isn’t a bad feature, it just doesn’t make much difference to me. I tend to write from the top to the bottom of the page without much regard for the margins, anyway. It does mean there are two fewer squares in the grid in each vertical and horizontal direction, if that matters to you.

The Leuchtturm1917 A5 dot grid notebook (left) vs. the Bullet Journal Edition 2 (right). See how much lighter the dots are?! (You can also see the Page Status Bullet and Smart Grid in this photo, though, which are nice.)

Lighter Dots: Bad

Alas, the only bad feature of the Bullet Journal Edition 2, in my opinion! The dots in this notebook are significantly lighter than those in the regular Leuchtturm A5. In bright light, it’s not too much of an issue. But in low-light conditions I really struggle to see the dots, and then they’re not really serving their purpose as a guide for writing neatly or drawing straight lines. I imagine the intention of this change was to make the dots less prominent under drawings and other artistic creations, but since I primarily write and create simple collections in my journal, I’d much rather the dots stand out than fade into the background.

120 GSM paper (and fewer pages): Meh

I’m torn on this feature. One one hand, the thicker pages in Edition 2—120 GSM (grams per square meter, a measure of paper weight) as opposed to 80 GSM in a regular Leuchtturm—feel very nice, and I do notice less ghosting (writing visible through the back side of a page), although that never bothered me much in the first place. The tradeoff, though, is that there are only 204 numbered pages in this journal, a significant decrease from 251 pages in a standard Leuchtturm notebook.

I imagine the thicker pages were added to appeal more to the artistic bullet journalers who use heavier inks and paints in their notebooks, but most of that community (in my experience) prefers even thicker 160 GSM pages. And for me, someone who’s just writing in my journal 95% of the time, I’d rather have more, thinner pages than fewer, thicker pages.

One more good thing, though: This new paper is “sustainably sourced.” I don’t know exactly what is meant by that, but if it’s true then I’m glad to hear it.

Three Bookmark Ribbons: Good

Before I got this notebook, I didn’t think having three built-in bookmarks instead of two would drastically alter my bullet journaling practice, but it’s actually been great. I use one bookmark for my Monthly Log and one for my Daily Log, as before, but now I have an extra one for whichever other spread I want to quickly reference. Sometimes this is a weekly log, or it’s another collection I update often, like the books I’m reading. (This is also a feature of Edition 1, but not of the regular Leuchtturm notebook.)

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Sticker Sheet: Good

Now, this is a feature that fits perfectly with the Bullet Journal ethos. If you use the original vertical Monthly Log layout like me, the rose gold-printed stickers with dates and days of the week are the perfect time-saving efficiency—and they look lovely, too. Ditto for the names of each month, though I use those a bit differently than originally intended. I haven’t much used the lightning bolt and bullet icon stickers yet, but I’m excited to incorporate them.

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Pocket Guide: Good

Edition 2 comes with a removeable booklet in the back cover laying out the basics of the Bullet Journal Method. I’ve been bullet journaling for a few years, so I don’t need to read it, but I think it’s a great introduction for any new journaler without taking up precious page space for anyone who doesn’t need it.


Here are the features I rated as Good, Bad, and Meh:


BuJo branding

Smart Grid

Page Status bullet

three bookmarks

sticker sheet

Pocket Guide


Grid Guide

Key, Index, etc.

larger margins

120 GSM paper / fewer pages


lighter dots

Overall, I’ve enjoyed using my Bullet Journal Edition 2 for a fresh start to the new year. Right now, the good features (especially the Smart Grid and stickers) outweigh the meh/bad (those pale dots!!) for me, so I’ll probably keep using this notebook unless I find another one that better suits me needs.

This is purely speculative, but I feel like some of these changes—especially the thicker pages, Grid Guide, and lighter dots—are designed to appeal to the more artistic members of the Bullet Journal community, while still retaining the system’s simple utility (page numbers, and dedicated pages for some core elements of the method) that attracts its more minimalist users. To me, it seems like splitting the difference. As I mentioned above, I think artsier BuJo-ers will still gravitate toward notebooks without page numbers and with even heavier pages, while those who tend toward a simpler style, like me, would appreciate having more pages instead of thicker ones. So if more changes are in the pipeline for a future Edition 3, I’d love to combine some of the excellent features of this edition, like the Smart Grid, with the classic specs of the blueprint.

I hope this review was helpful in determining if the Bullet Journal Edition 2 is a good choice for you! If you have thoughts of your own about this notebook, I’d love to hear them.

What’s on my bookshelf? Jan. 2021

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a bookshelf post! Today I’d like to share with you what I’ve been reading this month and what I’ll be picking up soon. (Technicality: several of these are not physically on my bookshelf because I had to return them to the library, but you know. We can pretend they are.)

Just finished: Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Is Glennon Doyle's new memoir 'Untamed' inspirational or heavy-handed? |  The Seattle Times

This was going to be a book-club book for me, but our book club sort of took a holiday hiatus and when the audiobook showed up in my Libby app a few weeks ago, I decided to read it anyway. I have mixed feelings about this book. The personal-narrative parts were compelling to me, and the broader generalizations about ~why women are the way we are~ were less so. I enjoyed hearing about Glennon’s big life changes (I don’t want to spoil things for you so I’m keeping it vague) and how she approached them, but I found myself tuning out during the sections that went on about her more abstract ideas. At several points I was genuinely moved and I even cried a couple times. If you are a fan of Glennon’s past work or generally like books of the self-help and female empowerment variety, I think you’d like this one too.

Just finished: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3) by N.K. Jemisin

This finale of Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy was as engrossing as the last iteration and brought the story to a satisfying conclusion. Like the other two books in the series, it takes work to read; you have to pay attention to the details and mechanics of this fantasy (or is it?) world to get the most out of it. In my opinion, that work is worth it. Although the first book (The Fifth Season) still stands out to me as the best, and its unique structure sets up some incredible twists, Jemisin had plenty of reveals left up her sleeve for the second and third installments as she expanded our understanding of her world and introduced a secondary protagonist. Jemisin is a talented storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Just finished: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted: A Novel: Novik, Naomi: 9780804179058: Books

Uprooted is a fairytale that takes pleasure in subverting the typical fairytale tropes. It presents an enchanting world with a likeable protagonist (although her best friend, despite driving a lot of the plot, has no character development or personality). I was especially endeared to the Eastern European-inflected setting due to my own family background (although a sovereign Ukraine doesn’t exist in this fantasy world between the Poland and Russia stand-ins, I….pretended it does). For this and other reasons, it reminded me a lot of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, so if you liked that book I bet you’d enjoy Uprooted as well (and vice versa). The last quarter or so of the book was lackluster for me, as all seemed hopeless and the story wallowed in the bad parts a bit too long for my taste. But of course, like any self-respecting fairytale, there is a happy ending.

Just finished: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea: A Novel: Morgenstern, Erin: 9780385541213:  Books

I…don’t know how to feel about this book. Let me rephrase that: I don’t know how I feel about this book. Actually, it’s more that I feel several conflicting feelings about this book and am trying to figure out how to talk about them. First of all, Morgenstern’s prose, overflowing with description and lavish with details, annoys and compels me in equal measure. “That’s not how you’re supposed to write!” I grumble, reading page after page describing a party that amounts to a bookish, daydreamy, Tumblr-scrolling teen’s fever dream. And yet, I keep reading. And there’s still a part of that uncool teen within me that genuinely loves it and wishes I, too, could stand on the shores of the Starless Sea. Morgenstern gives voice to that impulse for fantasy and extravagance that I suspect still lies dormant within a lot of us cynical adults, and I have to grudgingly respect her for it.

One part of this book I liked unreservedly was Morgenstern’s lack of concern for justifying or explaining her fantasy world. How, exactly, did there come to be a mystical story-flanked sea under the Earth’s crust? Who cares; it just is. Some people may hate this lack of explanation, and I get that too. But for me, a story is always more exciting when there’s still an element of mystery to the phenomenon or danger present. For example: When a dreadful monster is finally revealed, it always lets me down, because the fun and horror and uncertainty of imagining what it could be is more compelling than its actual form. (See: Stranger Things.) There are no monsters in The Starless Sea (okay, maybe a few, but they’re not really important), but the effect is the same. By refusing to explain how or why (beyond a certain extent of revelations to move the characters along), Morgenstern keeps the magic and the mystery intact.

A few final thoughts about this book (I read it the most recently, so I have a lot of reactions fresh in my brain!): Its structure is ambitious, interweaving tales that exist in the world of the main characters (I know there’s a word for this, but I don’t know what it is!) between each chapter of the main story, and I think it really works. That said, the main thread of the story and the main character are both kind of passive. Zachary Ezra Rawlins (whose full name is stated far too many times, IMO) is sort of swept along by the ambiance and the mystery of this whole deal, and as the reader I found myself swept along in those currents, too. The Starless Sea frustrated me at times, but it was certainly an enjoyable and atmospheric read. If you love fantasy and/or describe yourself as a “reader,” I’d recommend at least giving this one a try.

Currently reading: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the  Teachings of Plants: Kimmerer, Robin Wall: 9781571313560: Books

I’ve had this book recommended to me countless times and I’ve been meaning to read it for over a year. (I’ve actually had it checked out from my university’s library for a about the same amount of time…I have to return it next week, though, so I’m really motivated to finish now!) A few chapters in, I already love it and feel like it’s going to become one of those favorite-status books for me. I want to highlight something on every other page and I think I’ll just need to buy my own copy so I can. If you aren’t familiar, ecologist Robin Wall Kimmerer blends the Western science she was trained on and the Indigenous knowledge she was raised with to talk about the natural world and humanity’s place in it. The result is absolutely captivating and if you, too, love nature, I would highly recommend it.

Up next: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Los Angeles Public Library -  OverDrive

A creator I recently came across who is quickly becoming one of my favorite people to follow, Elizabeth Turn (AKA Plant Based Bride on YouTube), recommended this book so I decided to check it out! I’ve been getting more into reading sci-fi in the past couple years, so I’m looking forward to giving this one a try. I don’t know much about the plot…but it’s the first in a trilogy so hopefully I’ll have plenty more to read from Becky Chambers.

Up next: The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll

The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the  Future: Carroll, Ryder: 9780525533337: Books

I’ve been using the bullet journal method for several years now and it’s the best way I’ve found to organize my thoughts, events, and to-dos (and have a bit of fun with doodling along the way). I discovered this practice through Ryder Carroll’s blog, but I never picked up the book he came out with a few years ago because I figured I already had the method down and didn’t need to read about it again. It was recently recommended to get more insight into the mindfulness aspect of bullet journaling, so now I’m giving it a go!

What are you reading these days? Any thoughts on these books or recommendations for others? I’d love to hear about it!