Keeping Track of the Books You Read


The Leeds Library, UK. Photo by Michael D. Beckwith. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

I enjoy lists. Yes, I’m one of those people who finds satisfaction in a well-ordered, neat and tidy list.  I find that even the simple act of writing things down helps me clarify my thoughts, and it frees up brain space because I don’t have to spend time worrying that I’ll forget something.

Perhaps you’re a list enthusiast too; I’d wager that a lot of people are. Why else would listicles (a word that, I have to say, makes me cringe a little) be so tempting and so popular on the internet? In a 2013 article from The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova writes about the reasons why our brains are irresistibly drawn to list-based articles.

“Within the context of a Web page or Facebook stream, with their many choices, a list is the easy pick, in part because it promises a definite ending: we think we know what we’re in for, and the certainty is both alluring and reassuring.”

This year, I have decided to keep a list — in spreadsheet form — of all the books I read. When I was a teenager, I had a book diary in which I wrote the title of each book I read and the dates when I started and finished reading it. But my habit lapsed after a year or so, and I haven’t kept records of my reading since then.

books Aaron Burden

Books and coffee: the perfect combination for me. Public domain photo by Aaron Burden

I was inspired to start a literary spreadsheet by a link in Caitlin Kelly’s post, So, what are you reading these days? on her blog, Broadside. A Halifax librarian, Amy McLay Paterson, read 164 books in 2015, and she kept track of them all by using a simple Google Docs spreadsheet.

If you want to read Amy’s article and check out her spreadsheet, here’s a link. And yes, her article is in a list format — she writes about six things she learned from reading 164 books last year.

While I doubt my reading total this year will approach anywhere near 164 books, keeping a spreadsheet to track my reading seemed like a fun idea. It’s also handy as a reference tool when I write book reviews here on my blog and for jotting down titles on my TBR list, so that I don’t forget them.

I’m looking forward to keeping track of my reading this year. It will be interesting to see if any patterns emerge, and I think it will motivate me to read more books. Not that I need any encouragement — it’s a very rare occasion that I don’t have a book on the go.

What are your thoughts on keeping track of your reading? Do you keep a record of the books you read?

21 thoughts on “Keeping Track of the Books You Read

  1. A great post Grace! I have been on Goodreads since 2010 and it has helped me to keep track of my reading (or most of it) since the early 1980’s. And the community dynamic is always a plus in looking for more to read!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like the idea of a list. While I use Goodreads (which is a great reference when it comes to buying books for others, too), it’s not quite the same as a list, somehow. There is something clean and appealing about a list of books. I probably won’t do so this year, but maybe that’s something to start next year. #goals Interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I admit my pleasure reading has fallen by the wayside since discovering things like YouTube and the black hole that is online shopping. I do still read a fair bit of things online but those tend to be article pieces from various outlets/blogs and I do miss reading novels and other fiction work just because. I hope sometime in the near future you share your list with us because I’d love to take a peek into what you’re reading! I’m hoping that as my life starts stabilizing, I’ll have more motivation to get back into reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YouTube can be very tempting indeed. 🙂

      I find that reading before I go to sleep, which is when I do most of my reading, helps me wind down whereas the light from my smartphone and laptop make me less sleepy.

      I plan to blog more about books this year, so I’ll discuss many of the books in my spreadsheet. I can always send you the complete list at the end of the year, if you’d like. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t keep track, and sometimes I will start a book only to realize that I read it before, years earlier. It would be intresting, though. My reading habits have really changed. Reading in N America is dropping, though. I teach college English and I’ve noted how it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to sustain the focus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. Audio books are great! 🙂

      I have a long commute to work everyday — I enjoy listening to audio books while I’m driving. I also listen to a lot of podcasts, like This American Life, The Moth and All Things Considered.


  5. I used to be a voracious reader, then adulting sort of got in the way for a while after university, and in more recent years I decided to make reading a major priority again. Lists made ALL the difference! I use Goodreads and set goals for myself each year, plus I follow a few friends whose book taste I really respect and so I track what they read and recommend. A couple of years ago, I made (and met!) a goal of reading 100 books in a year which jumpstarted my book reading priority. Though my goals are much more modest these days, listing what I read and seeing what others are reading really helps me keep books at the top of my media consumption. Probably at least partially ego-based 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • 100 books in a year is pretty intense! I doubt that I read more than one book per week, although of course it depends on the length of the book. I recently finished The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which is almost 800 pages and took me a couple of weeks to read.

      I agree that keeping lists helps. And it’s always enjoyable to get book recommendations from people who have similar tastes. I follow a few bloggers whose reading preferences are similar to mine, and it has led me to add many books to my TBR list. 🙂


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