Tracking What You Read

Tracking What You Read

07/15/2024
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You should keep track of the books that you read. It will help you to remember what you liked, and help you find new books to read.

I’m a big fan of tracking information in general about different parts of your life. Whether it’s how many calories you’re eating, or how often you’re feeding your child, keeping track of information in a structured way will help you to become more organized in your life, and make better decisions.

When it comes to reading, I track everything that I read for myself. Every book that I read is tracked, how I read, when I read it, and generally a basic idea of how much I liked the book. I used to write a brief review of each book as well, but I found that I simply didn’t have time to do so, and it’s not like anyone was reading those reviews.

The best way to keep track of your reading is using Goodreads. Goodreads will allow you to mark every book that you read, mark which books that you would like to read, and then will provide some recommendations about what you might like to read. Goodreads was purchased by Amazon a few (several, now) years back, so just note that a lot of parts of the site are tied into Amazon to some degree, although it’s not really anything too bad.

You can keep what you read completely private, or you can share it with the world and make it publicly available. If you want to see what I’m reading, go ahead and give me a follow on Goodreads. I make my data mostly available, so you’re welcome to see what I’ve read, what I like, and what’s not really for me. I don’t make the data completely public though, so you would have to join and follow me. I have over 13 years of history on Goodreads of what I’ve read with over 2000 books over that timeframe that I’ve rated - there were a few years before I had kids where I was really going through books like crazy.

The other thing that’s great about a site like Goodreads is that it’s really easy to find new books to read. Goodreads sends me a monthly email of new books by authors that I’ve read and rated on their site. This makes it really easy for me to find the next entry in a series I may be waiting for, or a new book that one of my favorite authors has written. I’ve unsubscribed from other emails from Goodreads as I simply have too many books that I want to read at this point. However, if you’re in need of some recommendations, Goodreads will happily provide them to you based on your past books. They’ll also present popular books that you might enjoy reading.

Even better, Goodreads is built right into the Kindle. So if you have a Kindle, and you get a new book that you’re reading on there, you can mark directly on your Kindle that you’ve started to read that book. When you’re done, you can mark it as such, and give it a rating, all right from your Kindle. It works great for allowing you to track what books you’re reading. Any book that you get directly from Amazon, or through the library that comes through Amazon, can be tracked this way.

While I’m a huge fan of Goodreads, it is a social media site by nature. You can have friends, see their reviews, and privacy issues may be a concern for you. If that’s the case, you should at least track what books you’ve read in a spreadsheet, and give a basic idea of how you liked those books. You’ll be able to look back at that list over time to find your favorite books, and hopefully help you to find more books that you’d like to read.

Generally, I’d recommend that you’re keeping track of the books that you’re reading. Leave your kids' books out of there, and focus on the books that you want to read. If you’re reading a long chapter book to your kids, that may be fine to add, but adding every Dr. Seuss book that you read to them is going to mess with the books that are recommended to you, and it will give a false sense of how much you’re reading - I read multiple books like that per day, so I could be reading several hundred books a year if I was marking them as part of my reading.

Keeping track of your reading is a great way for you to stay focused and organized on your reading goals. Goodreads lets you set a yearly goal of how many books you want to read, and it will keep track of where you are at in that goal - whether you are pacing on track towards that goal or not. I’ve mentioned in the past that I actually try to set a lower goal for myself so that I slow my reading down a bit and spend more time with my family and kids - I really love to read.

If you’re not already keeping track of your reading, now is the time to start. Either sign up for an account on Goodreads, or else create a new spreadsheet and make note of what you’re reading. You might be surprised how much (or how little), you’re actually reading.

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