What’s the best way of keeping track of the books you read and those you own, but have yet to read?
I’ve only been keeping a record since 2012 when I began this blog. For the first few years I used Library Thing but though the discussion groups were excellent, I didn’t care for the technical side of the platform — it involved too much HTML code to make it user friendly. So then I moved to Goodreads which proved much easier as a way of keeping a note of what I read each year.
But when I started projects like the World of Literature and the Booker Prize winners, I needed a better system. So I switched to using a spreadsheet in 2018. This gives me far more flexibility to sort and filter the data. I store it in the Cloud via Google Sheets so I can access it at any time from my phone or iPad.
Now I can see at glance which books I read in a particular year, the countries of origin of their authors and the split between fiction and non fiction.
But some bloggers clearly record a lot more information about their reading. Lisa’s 2020 wrap up post at ANZLitLovers for example includes info showing the balance between books she purchased that year and those read from her TBR; new-to-her authors versus familiar names and how she obtained the books (gifts, library etc) of the book. In her 2020 review post, Annabel at Annabookbel talked about the average page count of her reading, the year of publication and the language of the publication. This is all in addition to some nifty looking charts.
As I approach the ninth anniversary of Booker Talk I’ve started to wonder if its time to re-think how I keep track of my own reading habits. My current spreadsheet uses this format (the link will take you to a template containing mock data). The first columns let me keep a record of the number of books read each year, or unfinished or given away. I’ve built in some formulas that give me a running total of my TBR and progress towards reducing it to a manageable size.
The second set of columns record the author’s country , year of publication, the genre and miscellaneous notes such as whether the book is part of a series.
I use this in parallel with Goodreads but mainly use the latter just to give me a quick visual view of the year.
The debate I’m now having with myself are whether the spreadsheet is the easiest most effective tool to use or is there another way, If the spreadsheet is the best option, then how much more do I want to add ?
It would be tempting to insert columns reflecting all the elements Annabel and Lisa use but I’m conscious that just because you can measure something it doesn’t mean you should. What aspects of reading make most sense for me to keep on my radar is the question I’m wrestling with.
So let me take advantage of the wisdom of crowds and ask you all about the system you use to track your reading? What do you track and what system have you found works best?