Tracking Your Reads

Since I was away all weekend, I didn’t have to time prep a book review, so let’s talk about tracking what we read!

One thing that astonished me whenever I started exploring the book blog world is that people actually had found a way to combine two of my favorite things– books and lists.  Don’t ask me why this had never occurred to me before.  Perhaps I was too busy hoarding my professor’s lists of “suggested” (more like you will read this book eventually if you want to keep in my good graces) history books and articles on random scraps of paper to think that it would be handy to keep a list of books I wanted to read for fun.  You know, in the event that I might spend a whole summer unemployed struggling to find something good to read.

I went through several iterations of my own lists.  I tried using amazon’s wishlists (since amazon’s suggestions were what I was using to find reads this summer and fall) and then I made a google spreadsheet.  Then I came across this beauty of Fyrefly’s and all bets were off.  (If you are a spreadsheet+book nerd, you need to check it out.)  I also downloaded Dropbox so I could keep my records up to date wherever I went.  The only major change I made to that magnificent spreadsheet was to add a sheet to keep track of books I want to read, who recommended them, and where I can find them when I’m ready for them.

I am really enjoying maintaining my spreadsheet, partly because I am a huge organization nerd (I have a notoriously clean desk.  Really.  My co-workers were just teasing me about it.) and partly because I am at the age in which my previously unassailable memory has started to wither (if this is how bad it is at 26, I can’t even imagine what being 60 will be like).  I can barely remember anything I read a few months ago, even though I think I was actually enjoying myself.  It is also amazing to have some clue what I am looking for when I go to the library or the book store.  (I have a tendency to impulse buy/check out the worst books.  And then never read them.  Or I do and wish I didn’t.)  Finally, it is pretty cool to track how quickly I read books, how many I can expect to get to in a month, and what exactly it is that I am reading.

How do you keep track of what you read?  Are you a spreadsheet-keeper or is your blog or even just your mind good enough?  What tips do you have for those of us who are new at keeping track of our reads?  What info is actually worth keeping track of?  Pages?  Dates of publication?  Days-to-read?  Etc?

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6 thoughts on “Tracking Your Reads

  1. Do you know, until I read your blog post today, it never occurred to me to be systematic about tracking my reading? I wish I had thought of that earlier. I do write about what I am currently reading in my diary – because I always have three books on the go at once (one poetry, one fun fiction and something more serious/worth mulling over or analysing). But I think I might be outgrowing that. My Wishlist on Amazon is just that: a wishlist, but I suppose you could make other lists by categories. Good luck with finding a tracking system that works for you, and let me know how useful you find it!

    • I am pretty happy with that spreadsheet I linked to at the moment. It make it easy for me to sort everything out and to keep track of various stats like the number of books I’ve read, etc. I am not sure in the long run I will care so much about numbers, but for now it is fun!

  2. I’ve been using Goodreads since 2007 to keep track of what I read and what I want to read. I was never able to keep track before but Goodreads makes it amazingly easy – although my to-read list tends to grow extremely fast… It also comes as an app so it’s easy to keep track on the go. 🙂

    • I recently started using goodreads, too. When I first signed up, though, they were having a bunch of technical difficulties and that turned me off a little. I am still trying to use it to find new books, but like that on my spreadsheet I can keep track of whether or not my library has a book and who recommended it. Goodreads is- in my limited experience with it- isn’t that customizable!!

      • Well, you can make notes to each book but it isn’t as easy to get an overview with Goodreads as it is with a spreadsheet. I guess you can make a library bookshelf … There is a spot for writing who recommended a book to you. I love Goodreads for keeping track of books I’ve read, want to read – as well as my progress in each book.

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