Discussion | Tracking Your Reading

tracking your reading.pngAm I the only one who barely remembers what reading was like before I started book blogging? Because it feels like forever ago, even though my blog is just over two years old. I think I kept track of what books I’d read in a notebook (not the best system), but apparently even that is pretty unusual among casual readers. So, I’m curious: do you track your reading? And if so, how do you do it?

I’m guessing most people reading this blog track their reading via Goodreads. I will admit, it’s definitely the most convenient. It’s also fun to share your progress with friends. And I love being able to sort the books I’ve read by things like page numbers and publication date. But it’s not the only way to keep track of what books you’ve read (and the books you still want to read).

I’ve tried keeping track in a notebook, which is completely impractical – you have to flip through basically the entire book every time you want to cross one off, there are always duplicates, and no way to sort them, plus, it can be lost. Spreadsheets seem daunting and unnecessarily time consuming (I spend enough time sorting through my shelves on Goodreads). And any sort of word doc seems like it would be nearly as hard to keep organized as a physical notebook.

Recording the books you’ve read is just the beginning. Currently, I use a bullet journal to track my progress for the year, and I have several different pages in there for tracking different aspects of reading for this year. I keep track of my ratings, of the diverse books I’ve read, of the 2017 releases, of ARCs I need to read and review, of all of the books I’ve read so far, of the ratio of fiction to nonfiction, the genres I’ve read (and how many books from each), and the formats (physical, ebook, and audiobook) of the books I’ve read, among other things. I will admit that the reason for most of these things is to make the end-of-year posts easier (last year, they took forever), but I do really enjoy seeing my reading stats progress throughout the year, too.

You also might have noticed the reading lists in the menu bar above. In college, I took a contemporary American lit course that focused on Oprah’s Book Club, and exploring how and why books end up on that list, and the effect it has on pop culture. Since then, I’ve been interested in what makes me pick up certain books, and I thought it would be fun to keep a record of what books I’ve read that any influential power – Oprah, Amazon, the New York Times, Gilmore Girls – has deemed a “must-read” book. I don’t choose books from these lists on purpose, but I do update them periodically to see what I’ve read, and what I’ve added to my TBR. I think it’s fun, but it’s definitely a little bit crazy.

Writing this blog has taken my reading habits to a whole new level. I obsessively, compulsively record each book I read. Some things are helpful – like having a digital TBR of books I may or may not already own, which helps me remember all the books I want to read – and some things, well, aren’t – like knowing which books Rory Gilmore and I have in common.

It kind of blew my mind when I realized recently that most people just read books and don’t do anything to mark the occasion. There are people who read a lot of books and have no idea what Goodreads is. They don’t read to meet an arbitrary goal, or feel the need to binge-read all the books they can find after a slump. They just read. And it made me wonder what that would be like. This blog makes that relatively impossible – I still have to keep track of books for reviews and such. But would I enjoy reading more if I didn’t feel the pressure of a TBR or growing “read” list? What would it be like to finish a book and simply put it down?

Do you think keeping a record of our reading enhances or detracts from the experience of reading a book? If you track your reading, what sort of stats do you track? And is there a reason you track your reading (i.e. blogging, sharing with friends, etc.)?

Let me know in the comments! I’m curious to see how different we are in our tracking habits.

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37 thoughts on “Discussion | Tracking Your Reading

  1. I love tracking my reading. I started tracking my reading at around thirteen, writing in a notebook. I did know what Goodreads then but I didn’t understand it properly. I still use the notebook but, when I started writing the books there, I only wrote the titles, which has proved difficult because of books with the same titles. I also used to read a TON on Wattpad and I also wrote those books down too. Now it’s hard to tell which are published books and which are Wattpad books. I never wrote re-reads either and I re-read a lot, so I never had a definite number of books I read in the year. I love Goodreads. I think it’s so handy. For old times sake, and I guess as a backup too, I still like to update the notebook. I think, even if I weren’t a blogger, I’d still 100% keep track of my reading and I’d probably be onto little mini written reviews now.

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    1. I kept my notebook for a while after starting to use Goodreads, too. But it became super impractical as I added more and more books to my “to read” list (at one point, I switched to a larger notebook to fit authors, as I had the same problem you did). This year, I’ve started keeping a handwritten list of the books I’ve read (for the year), and have really liked that system. I think tracking gives a sense of accomplishment, even though we should feel accomplished just from having read a book.

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      1. I’m not going to lie, at thirteen years old, before I even knew people blogged and made videos about books, I kept a binder of books I wanted to read. Funnily (i know not really a word) enough, many were fantasy, which is not a genre I lean towards now. But, yes, that was completely impractical. It was such a waste of paper too. At least, when adding a book to Goodreads, you’re not killing any trees. I only used the notebook for my read books. Definitely! It’s nice to see what you’ve read and enjoyed. Yes, especially in cases where the people around you aren’t big readers (like in my case). But, I think from blogging, you’re always trying to better your reading- read more, read faster, diversify your reading etc. and, I think that feels like a much bigger accomplishment than having just read one book. Because everyone around you is reading books. You need something that shows that accomplishment.

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  2. I generally log my books on Goodreads. I’ve tried making spreadsheets/docs but it just gets boring after a while, or I forget about it for months. I think I’ll just leave everything up to Goodreads for now!

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  3. I never used to track the books I read until I found Goodreads. I have tried other methods of keeping track of my books but it’s the most convenient and reliable. All the lists and spreadsheets I keep making inevitably get forgotten.

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  4. Part of me wishes I didn’t feel the need to constantly keep track of books (TBR, wishlist, library borrows, read, liked, hated, etc), that I could just be fancy free with my bookishness. But that’s just not gonna happen.
    Ironically, I find my blog is a pretty good resource when I need to look back at what I’ve read. I’ve had it going for (gulp) nearly 8 years now so there is plenty to refer to.
    I do use Goodreads as a sort of list keeper. It also helps me when I need to find something like a release date or a publisher.
    I bought the moleskine Book Journal for the reasons you mention but I am too chicken to use it. I’m afraid of “ruining” it, which I know is a completely self-imposed silly idea.

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    1. Wow, 8 years is a long time! I recently bought a plain moleskine journal that I turned into a sort of bookish bullet journal, and I know that fear haha. It took me FOREVER to set up, because I did everything in pencil first. Multiple times. And then I still ended up messing things up, so whatever.

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  5. I track my reading simply because I like to challenge myself. I love the satisfaction of ticking a book off a list. I don’t do it for my blog, I just like to make lists. To track my reading I am an obsessive Goodreads updater. Usually I update that once or twice a day. I also keep a to-read list on Tumblr so I get the satisfaction of crossing a book title off it when I am finished reading it. At the end of every year I get the extra satisfaction of deleting all of the titles that have been scored out on the list. I have been doing this since before I started blogging. I am just a hyper organised person who gets a kick out of lists.

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  6. I use Goodreads and always update that with what I’m reading and what I’ve finished reading, but this year I also started keeping track on a spreadsheet. I am now obsessed with the spreadsheet as I can track so much more than I can on GR and I’m finding it fascinating. It makes me wish I’d started tracking my reading in this much detail a long time ago. I love the idea of tracking reading in a bullet journal.

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    1. I am really enjoying tracking my reading in a bullet journal this year. It’s so easy to see reading trends as I go, and fill in gaps when I need to (i.e. read more diverse books or more female authors). You can’t really do that on Goodreads, so I like keeping a separate list.

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  7. I started using Goodreads when I watched my first Booktube video. Everyone was talking about it, so I tried tracking my reading that way, and now I can’t imagine life without it. It’s so convenient!
    I use a notebook as well, but that’s just because I am crazy about lists. I have lists for literally everything in a notebook somewhere – and because I love it so much, I actually update them regularly. 😛
    Evernote is also something I find really useful. I have lists of all the books I want to buy, as well as upcoming releases. I love updating those cause it always makes me feel oddly accomplished. 😂
    I think Goodreads challenges and stuff can definitely put pressure on people, but they’re a nice way to read more as well, and the site as a whole can help you discover really great books. 😊

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    1. I agree! There’s something about physically writing it down that’s just so much better than logging it on a computer. But I still think Goodreads is a valuable resource, and so much more convenient.

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  8. For years, I didn’t keep track of the books that I’ve read. Until I became a self-published author, I didn’t care for keeping track. I knew that I would fail at some point at tracking.. sad but true.

    As I started utilizing Goodreads, I started to love it. I can see when I read a book and how I long I read it for. I can remember my rating and reread my own review. I can do that on my blog as well and created an entire page organized alphabetically by author for the books that I’ve read. To take things further, I created 2 boards on pinterest- books that i’ve read in 2016 and books that I’ve read in 2017.

    So, I agree. I wish I knew about Goodreads sooner. It’s a great community and gave me a good feeling of remembering a book. There are some story lines that I remember from my childhood and teen years but don’t remember the titles. I hate that but life happens and now I know that keeping track of the books that I read is the right thing to do. ^_^

    Thank you for this discussion post. Made me appreciate all we have more.

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    1. You’re welcome! Thanks for your input! I think Pinterest is a fun way to see what you’ve read in a year. And I do love the Goodreads community. I always tell people it’s kind of like Facebook, but just for reading. Which is so much better.

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  9. Very interesting topic, for me personally I find TBR’s where you list 10 books you want to read in that month makes me not want to read at all. If I set myself a basic goal of I want to get to these books over summer for example i’m ok but definitive TBR’s just makes me want to avoid the books I chose all together no matter how much I am first excited to pick them up. There is definitely also a pressure to Goodreads and trying to beat that number you put up for yourself, passing the number is a fantastic feeling and seeing it go up can be exciting and luckily i’ve learnt that not reaching the end goal is fine. I no longer feel disappointed with myself for not reading more or reading the 200 books like someone else has because hey 20 books is still amazing to me.
    I’ve also stopped reviewing every single book I read because I felt a pressure to that as well, I just like to pick up a book and enjoy it. If it’s part of a series I want to be able to move on straight away not panic about oh gosh I need to get that review up but now i’m halfway through this next book and did this happen in the first book or not?

    One thing I like to tell people who are considering blogging is to make sure you are having fun with it, blogging is a hobby and is something to enjoy. When you start not enjoying it or start to not enjoy reading then you need to remove some of that pressure from yourself and find your love for reading again.

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    1. I totally agree! I’ve gotten in the habit of only reviewing books when 1) I’ve received them for review or 3) I really want to share them. I set TBRs for myself more as a reminder of the books I want (or need) to get to, but I very rarely actually stick with them.

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  10. I have always kept track of what I read, and it’s always Goodreads. I also sort my books on my shelves at home with the books I have read at the top and the ones I want to get too sooner at face height. The face height thing works better than I would have hoped, didn’t think my brain was that simple…..oooo a book, I should read that haha.

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  11. Hmmm great post, but TOUGH to answer! Once upon a time in high school and maybe even some of college I would plow through book like candy bars (keep in mind I eat candy bars for breakfast lunch snack desert medicine) and after a while I realized that … sure… I’m reading, I’m enjoying what I read but isn’t part of the experience of reading offering our ideas and reflecting on some aspects of a work with others and learning about ourselves through the books we read? This is what really got me into the “book tracking” habit: I love going through books and finding quotes that resonate with my experiences and how I think about the world. Based on the books I have enjoyed and have not, I learn more about myself and Goodreads has offered so much and allows us bibliophiles to engage with others around the globe that have similar and perhaps totally different reactions to a book as we do!

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