A book review: the app to build a reading habit

Bookly is an app that makes its rounds on TikTok and other social media. The Bookly website describes the app as “Bookly is a wonderful app that allows you to read in real time, manage your books, make a habit of reading and see your progress over time.” If you’ve been interested in trying out this reading app, read on for our Bookly review.

What is Bookly?

Users set annual, monthly, and daily reading goals, then record their reading time and the number of pages read during each session. The app then tracks their progress over the year, tells them how long it will take them to finish the book and, if a user wants it, sends reminders at a specific time each day to finish reading. It is intended to help readers ‘form a lasting reading habit’.

The app is free with the option to pay for an upgraded version. The free version allows users to have up to ten books in their collection. While you can get around this limit by removing books from your collection and adding new ones, your ability to track statistics will be affected. The paid version costs $19.99 for six months and allows you to add any number of books, and gives you more options for ambient sound, along with a few other features.

But how does Bookly rank in the market in a world full of reading apps? Does it live up to its promises of getting used to reading, especially with social media and, well, life getting in the way? I decided to test it out for a month! Let’s dive into my Bookly review – my experience, the good, the less good and everything in between.

How Bookly works

Creating an account was quite easy. Connect an email, fill in your name and details, then set your goals for the day and year. I set my daily goal to 30 minutes, but you can also set a page goal if you prefer. I’ve also set an annual goal of 50 books, which is what I always set my Goodreads at. I also set daily reminders at 9pm to read.

A screenshot of the Bookly

Then I added my first book! It’s pretty easy to add books and a nice feature is that you can manually add something if it doesn’t show up in the database. I often read textbooks, advanced reader copies (ARCs), or just lesser-known books and they weren’t always in the database, so it was nice to be able to just add them myself.

Then it was time to start my first reading session. All you need to do to get started is click “continue reading” and the timer will start. (If you forget to log in to a session, you can manually add the session so that no statistics are left behind!)

On the reading session page you can play ambient sounds, log thoughts as you read, jot down words to look up, capture your favorite quote, pause the session, count down and of course stop. You can navigate away from the screen if, for example, the social media siren is too loud or if you get a text that you need to respond to. The timer keeps ticking.

A screenshot of the Bookly reading session page.

When you’re done, hit the stop button and you’ll be asked how many pages you’ve read. It also awards you diamonds for each reading session based on the amount of time you read. These can be exchanged for new outfits for the app’s mascot or for more beautiful icons for your phone’s home screen. This was a feature I wasn’t really interested in, but it didn’t cost anything (although you can buy diamonds if you want), so I didn’t mind.

The stats page tells you how many pages you’ve read so far, how much time you’ve read, and a bunch of other fun stats if that’s something you’re interested in. You also earn achievements while you’re at it. These don’t “get you” anything, but for finishing your first book, achieving your goals and many other things, you get badges to collect.

I think that’s the basics! Here’s what works and what didn’t work so well.

the victories

The app is easy to navigate and features like ambient sound, in-app thought or quote logging, and reminders are great for keeping you reading. There are frequent “challenges” that the app also puts you throughout the day to keep your reading habit going.

A screenshot of a challenge notification from Bookly.

A screenshot of an infographic created by Bookly.

When you have a novel out, the app also generates an infographic that you can share on social media. This seems especially useful for those of you involved with Bookstagram or other scholastic sites.

There is also a feature on the stats page that tells you how much other people are reading right now! That makes it a bit more community based for the often isolated reading experience.

The better ones

This app duplicates things that other apps do better than Bookly. For example, the Kindle app keeps track of all my reading speed and gives me the time until I’m done. Goodreads keeps you on pace for your annual reading goals and has a much more robust database of books.

I wish it synced with Goodreads too. It felt so repetitive to log my book into Goodreads and Bookly and the places I follow them myself. It just seemed a little more time consuming, which is petty, but I’m still behind it.

Who is this app for?

I found out pretty quickly that this app was not aimed at readers like me. I’m really a read-when-I-have-a-minute instead of setting aside copious amounts of time to squat. I read ten pages in the bus and then get distracted by an email. I read on the couch for five minutes as the sink fills with water. I jump from my Kindle app to Twitter and back again in minutes. So these reading sessions were never a true reflection of my reading speed. And frankly, I didn’t read once in the time I set my memories. That’s just not how I work.

However, I know that there are so many readers who do make some time to read. Who care about their reading speed and daily habits and ‘gamifying’ reading. If you like the numbers and the tracking and the organization of it all, this app is definitely for you. The cute infographics are also an added bonus.

Hopefully, this Bookly review helped you decide if it’s an app for you. If you’re still looking for another app or two, check out this list of the 13 best reading apps or these 5 useful apps to organize your reading life.

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