How I track the books I read: digital + physical.

How I track the books I read: digital + physical.

There are readers who lovingly record every book they read; there are readers who do so begrudgingly, if at all.

I fall firmly into the latter category. I would much rather be reading than writing down what I’ve been reading (or worse, typing it into an online database).

Despite that, I’ve come to see the benefits of sacrificing a bit of reading time in order to record what I’m reading. I started recording my books—books I want to read, books I’m currently reading, books I’ve completed—in Goodreads a few years ago and haven’t looked back.

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I don’t share a lot of information in Goodreads: I give each book a star rating and (usually) post a short review. But even that tiny bit of information preserves my reading habits better than my unreliable memory.

I regularly sort through my books on Goodreads: when someone asks me to recommend a good book I’ve read recently, when I want to see if I’ve been skewing lately towards fiction or nonfiction, when I’m compiling a list of recent favorites. (It’s not a perfect system: I forgot to include a terrific book on my Best of 2014 list because I forgot to enter it in Goodreads!)

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I’m grateful to have the information, and I only wish I had more years of data to sift through.

I love using Goodreads because the information is easy to access and sort—by year, rating, title, author.

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I’ll continue to use Goodreads this year, but in 2015 I’m trying something I haven’t done in years: I’m using an actual paper reading journal to track my reading habits.

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I like being able to jot notes about what I’m reading without having to keep an electronic device handy. I like the idea of browsing actual physical pages to see what I’ve been reading lately at a glance, and of jotting freehand notes in the margins.

And the particular journal I chose for the year—a $6 7″ x 5″ hardcover from Potter Style—has fun extras that I’m looking forward to using. In addition to holding two-page spreads for the books I’m reading, the journal has pages for my literary superlatives, places to record my favorite quotes, and “reading trees” that resemble mind maps.

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The journal has blank pages to record books I want to read, and detailed lists of Man Booker Prize winners, National Book Award winners, The Modern Library’s 100 best novels, Oprah’s Book Club picks, and more.

If I’m lacking inspiration, my own reading journal provides plenty of of places to find it.

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Lots of readers create their own book journals from blank notebooks, but I know from experience that I’m much more likely to actually use the journal if it’s pre-filled and ready for me to write in. I need all the help I can get.

I get a ton of questions about how I keep track of what I’m reading and what I want to read in the future. Readers, we want to know: do you keep a reading journal? How do you track what you’re reading? 

How I Track

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148 comments

  1. Jillian Kay says:

    I use Pinterest to track what I’ve read — I like to see the covers visually. I track what I’ve read in Librarything as well, but find that more useful for tracking what I want to read. I also have an elaborate holds system at my library where I reserve the next 50 books I want to read, but suspend the holds depending on my moods or when I think I might get to them. I thought about adding a paper record this year after listening to a Books on the Nightstand episode where Michael was excited that he found a file-o-fax from 1992 with his reading diary in it. In the end though I decided enough was enough.

  2. Anna says:

    I haven’t tracked my reading in the past, unless it was to keep a list of books that I’ve read from a certain series or certain author for quick reference. Last year I started pinning the books I read throughout the year on Pinterest. I joined Goodreads, but it was one too many things for me to do. I don’t think I would keep up with a paper reading journal, plus I have to keep things small and simple because of living in an isolated area. (Most things have to fit in our suitcases. You have to get down to basics!) I put as many things on-line or digital as opposed to actual paper/books.

  3. Amanda says:

    I use Goodreads. I love it! Like you, I’d rather be reading, but I like to track what I’ve read each year. I also know how much it helps an author to get ratings and reviews on their books, so I almost always give a star rating.

    • Anne says:

      “I also know how much it helps an author to get ratings and reviews on their books, so I almost always give a star rating.”

      I NEVER considered this. Thanks for pointing that out!

  4. Andrea says:

    I use Goodreads, too, and love it. It looks like they recently switched to bigger images of the covers (probably influenced by Pinterest!). I like the idea of a paper journal as you described and would be so tempted to buy it, but I also feel that I would probably abandon it by March!

  5. Emily says:

    I’m another Goodreads fan! I NEVER have had luck with paper journals, but the Goodreads habit has stuck better, probably because it can be as minimal or as elaborate as I want it to be. I keep an Amazon wish list specifically for books I want to read (and I just discovered a browser extension that will automatically add those titles to Goodreads, which made me unbelievably happy), but the collection of title is getting ridiculous! Some rainy day I need to go through and prioritize which I most want to read.

  6. Alissa says:

    I also use Goodreads exclusively – I blogged about my method here: https://lifeonlakeland.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/works-for-me-storing-to-reads-in-goodreads/
    I’m a librarian though so I don’t begrudge the time it takes me to review a book as it’s so useful for my work. When I started working at the library I had a paper notebook I tracked things in. Then I lost it. Also one librarian had an elaborate card file books she’s read. Keeping track of what you read is taught to us in library school. Plus in Goodreads I love all the statistics, I love recommending books to friends and I love the app too so there’s really no excuse not to track.

  7. Erica M. says:

    I definitely use Goodreads (and wish I had started tracking my reading earlier!) and I also have my library account set up to automatically track everything I check out. I like the idea of a book journal, especially to take notes since I just can’t bring myself to make notes in the margins. I have started something like that with a commonplace book. I’ve been jotting down quotes I like and random thoughts, but it’s hard to do when you’re reading right before bed!

    I have an older patron that has a huge notebook of the hundreds of books she’s read over the years. That lady is my hero!

  8. Janet says:

    I use Goodreads just to give them a star rating, I never write reviews there. I use the book journal you’ve shown here for reviews. I’ve tried others but have come back to this. I’ve been journaling for about 4 years now.

  9. Quen says:

    I have a beautiful little notebook that I use, and I also use Goodreads. I haven’t used the notebook since we moved to CO last summer, but am going to get it out to catch up.

  10. Sara K. says:

    I use Goodreads when I remember it 🙂 I would probably use it more if I took the time to go in and prioritize my “to-read” books. Also, I wish I had completion dates for all the books I read before I started using it.

    I do have a spreadsheet on my computer at work which I am slightly more reliable with! I just keep a column of books I want to read, one of books I’ve read, and a date for when I completed it. And my sister gave me a small reading journal for my birthday in November, but I haven’t started entering it yet. I will probably abandon the spreadsheet at some point in favor of Goodreads, but I’m not quite there yet.

    I do like the idea of a permanent written record 🙂

  11. When I was ten, I used a spiral-bound notebook. I would note the title and author and then give a one or two word description: “Amazing!” “Loved it!” etc. Oh, and I also would make mention of how many bad words, if any, I encountered. 🙂

    Now I do two things: I record everything in Goodreads (and I’m especially grateful for the to-read section–I would never be able to remember on my own all the titles people recommend to me!), and I write detailed book reviews on my blog (sunlitpages.blogspot.com). Even though, like you said, it would be nice to be reading more books instead of writing about the books I just read, I have found it so nice to be able to go back to a book I read two years ago and remember little details I would have otherwise forgotten. Those book reviews are some of my treasures because they capture a moment in time for me and allow me to go back (whenever I feel like it) to a book I enjoyed.

    • Anne says:

      Yes and yes and yes. (Also, I would LOVE to read the one-word reviews of my ten-year-old self. Although I would fully expect them to be completely cringe-worthy.)

  12. I review the books I really like (or really hate) on Goodreads or on my personal blog. I review books about Kentucky on HerKentucky. I’ve never really been one for journaling/ logging my day-to-day reading. For you, is it a reference or a goal-setting thing?

  13. That journal looks amazing! I, too, use Goodreads in the simplest way possible. (My books get just a star rating; no review.) My “official” record system is in an old notebook I’ve had since junior high. I decided when I was 12 or 13 to keep track of how many books I read in my life. Alas, I realized too late that I should’ve written down the titles I was reading, so that one is just a page filled with tally marks, but I can’t seem to give it up.

  14. Steph says:

    I just write it down in a notebook. But I keep losing the notebook and then having to rack my brain to remember what I’ve read when I find it. I did set our library card to track what we’re checking out, but some of the books I read aren’t from the library and my kiddos get so many books out that it would be ridiculous to cull through the list. I’ve been meaning to look into Goodreads for a while now…I need to get on that.

  15. Lindsey says:

    I use Goodreads more to track books I want to read and my own excel spreadsheet to track what I have actually read. I also track it in Goodreads (mainly because I like the percentage complete on the Goodreads Challenge) but it doesn’t allow me to track all of the information I want. Additional important stats for me are: hard copy vs. digital, male vs. female authors, and white vs. non-white authors. The formatting is mainly to satisfy my own curiosity, and I know I’ll read about 60/40 female to male authors, but only 5% or so non-white authors if I don’t make an effort. Knowledge is power and analysis is legitimately fun to me (INTJ here) so you better believe I go full nerd about my reading habits!

    • Anne says:

      “Knowledge is power and analysis is legitimately fun to me.”

      You are so right! At least about the first part. I love having analyzed; I hate the analysis part. (INFP 🙂 )

  16. I’ve used a notebook since 2004 and just love it. I was pretty committed to Goodreads for a few years, but I found I wanted to reclaim my reading for myself / keep it from being a public thing. Now I’ll occasionally post TBR books there or will use it to record books when I’m on vacation (and away from the journal).

    I love being able to look back and also like the way it helps me draw less of a blank when someone asks ” What have you been reading?”

    • liz n. says:

      This is so interesting to me! I stopped using Goodreads a couple of years ago for exactly the same reason! I felt like I HAD to share my thoughts about every book I read. Obviously, no one is forced to do this, but part of what makes reading so enjoyable (for me, at least) is keeping at least part of that personal relationship with a book to yourself. And I really like writing in my book journals.

      • Yes! I think for me, part of the need for privacy comes from being an introvert and part comes from being a children’s author (the public side of it). I wanted to step back from the pressure to read everything — and to show the world I was reading everything — and just do what I wanted to book-wise.

        This has been a real gift to me.

        • MelissaJoy says:

          I resonate with you both. Paper journals have been wonderful for me to write personal responses or a quote I love without the pressures of someone else “reading” over my shoulder on goodreads. Now, I use goodreads for TBR lists and the occasional star rating. My comfort level in discussing books, I realize, is more in the spoken word than written. I do appreciate those gifted in review writing.

          My five year old daughter is keeping a paper journal for her chapter book list.

          • Jenny says:

            Oh this sounds so fun. Maybe I’ll buy notebooks for each of my kids to keep a record of their reading. I sure wish I had one from my childhood.

  17. That looks like a great paper journal! I love its features. I find that I enter my books on Goodreads when I think of them, meaning sometimes at home, sometimes at the office, etc. so a digital solution works best for me. And since I’ve written a novel I’ve stopped inputting comments b/c I feel sooo bad if what I have to say is negative. Ha!

  18. Susan says:

    A dear friend of mine, who was a voracious reader, died two years ago & left behind her two daughters, a newborn & a three-year-old. She used an online bookshelf (Shelfari) on which she tracked the books she read for herself & with her daughter. As the years pass, it will really serve as a nice way to share books & her love of reading with her daughters even though she’s gone.

  19. Jon Becker says:

    As a homeschooling dad and a voracious reader, I’m so appreciative of this post! I wrote my own blog post about the books I would be reading in 2015, and I wasn’t sure how to best track them. I had NO IDEA that there were “reading journals” until I read this. I’m thankful for blogs where we can provide information and encourage one another as we put forth our best efforts to educate the most important people in the world, our children!

    Blessings!

    Jon Becker
    http://www.jonrbecker.com

  20. I use Goodreads to track what I’m reading, add books to my (ever-growing) to-read list, and sort books into shelves (which is helpful when someone asks me to recommend a good mystery, etc.). I usually don’t write reviews there (though I do give star ratings) because I write brief reviews on my blog. I haven’t used a paper reading journal exclusively, but I do often jot notes about what I’m reading in my regular journal.

    Fascinating to see everyone’s answers!

  21. I have never even considered keeping track of what I’ve read. I think I’ve always just had a good enough memory that I didn’t need to. But my mind is getting less reliable, and who knows ~ maybe I’ve already forgotten what I’ve forgotten! So I think I’ll give this a shot. I especially love the idea of “reading trees” and seeing what led me to read what.

    My biggest hesitation is that the OCD in me will be annoyed that I didn’t start this sooner; that this will not be a comprehensive list. I suppose better late than never, though, right? So I’ll go with a paper journal, since I’m going to be a rookie at this and might be changing my method along the way. 🙂 Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

  22. Jeannie says:

    I love your journal, Anne! I use a hardcover spiral notebook I was given as a gift, with “Books to Check Out” on the cover. In the front section I list books friends have recommended or that I’ve heard about that sound good; the rest I use for listing each book I’ve read, with a short synopsis or review & a rating out of 5 stars. I’ve been doing this for 2 or 3 years; it’s pretty simple but it makes it so much easier to compile my year-end reading post and my Quick Lit (Twitterature) posts.

  23. i resisted goodreads at first, but now i love it! i’m a librarian and always get asked for book recommendations so it’s helpful in that regard (though not at work- i work at an academic library and our fiction collection is pretty limited). i love how goodreads suggests books…i’ve found it to be super accurate. i can’t tell you the number of times i’ve added something to my to-read list on goodreads only to find that book while browsing at the library. and i have ~1000 to-read books so it’s not that i just remember them all. 🙂

  24. Kim S. says:

    I mainly track my books on GoodReads as well, but my TBR list is all over the place. When I started listening to podcasts more regularly, I kept a notebook, which was just a list of books. But due to the confines of a small purse, I now list them on my phone. I keep several lists on there – books, movies, recipes, quotes I love. and I have one for “random thoughts”.

  25. I love using Goodreads! Since I have the app on my phone, it’s super easy to make note of books I want to read or books I just finished. I tend to lose post-it notes and am not super crazy about the idea of carrying around some sort of notebook to keep track of everything. I am a grad student and have plenty to carry around already 😉

    • Anne says:

      I have little scraps of paper everywhere with book notes on them … I always intend to log them in to goodreads, or this book journal, but somehow that never happens. 🙂

  26. Bri says:

    I started tracking my books just last year, and I’m so glad I did! It helps me remember what books I most enjoyed and helps me select my next books. I just use a simple google drive spreadsheet with two tabs (fiction/non) and list the author, title, and month/year. I have a separate (much longer) google doc with lists of books to read under a few broad category headings.

  27. liz n. says:

    I actually started keeping a book journal when I was nine years old. My father had given me “The Hobbit” and a small binder and told me that, from now on, I had to write a one-page entry about every book I read. My book journal has grown to eleven volumes, although now I use journals that I make myself. The books are entered in the order read. Sadly, two of my journals were lost during a move. Oh, and sometimes I do go back and make notes on books I’ve re-read.

    In Journal #4, the entry for “Lady Chatterly’s Lover,” which was assigned in high school: “Worst book I’ve ever read. D.H. Lawrence probably wrote this one because he had to use up some ink before it went bad or something. I’m doing the ‘topic of your choice’ option for the paper, and my topic will be, ‘Why Mrs. Jones Hates Me: She Assigned this Awful Book.’ ” There are two additional notes in the margin for “Lady Chatterly’s Lover.” The one from 1999 reads, “Tried to read again. Made it halfway through before I threw the book across the room.” The entry from 2013 reads, “Dear Future Liz: Stop trying to like this book. You hate this book. You hate the characters. You will never like anything about this book. Every time you try to read it, you feel sad for the trees that gave their lives for this piece of %&@#. Just stop, already!”

    (p.s. My literature teacher, Mrs. Jones, was one of my favorite teachers, that really was the title of my paper on Lady Chatterly, and I received an A+)

    • okay, that was hysterical… I love that you wrote your paper that way, and it illustrates what I always tell my kids about literature: “If you read it and hate it, that’s fine, because at least you’ll know *why* you hate it.” Disliking “great” literature is a perfectly acceptable option!

      And I love the idea of writing a page about every book. I’d like to go back in time and do this!

  28. Kendra says:

    That reading journal looks really fun! I’ll have to look at a bunch next time I’m at the bookstore.
    I use Pinterest to keep a list of books that I hear about that sound interesting. Then I have a separate list for kids books. I use the boards as reference when I’m at the library but I keep thinking I would be better served to spend some time looking at the boards before going to the library so I will know what’s actually at my branch, where, and can order any that aren’t there.
    I have been on Good Reads for a couple years and use it mainly to track the books I’ve already read. I enjoy seeing what other friends are reading too. I noticed that if I write a certain number of reviews I’ll get more personalized suggestions of what else I might enjoy reading so I’ve been trying to do that. I’m curious what suggestions they’ll have!
    I wonder if my daughter would also like a reading journal. Though she loves to read the requirement of keeping a reading log at school has possibly killed any chance of that but the journal you mention might be a more enjoyable prompt.
    Also, I can see how a reading journal would be a treasured keepsake as well. The books my mom owned and wrote in are my most treasured momentos from her.

    • Anne says:

      “Though she loves to read the requirement of keeping a reading log at school has possibly killed any chance of that.”

      For better or worse, she’s in good company. I’ve heard that complaint from a lot of parents.

  29. Rebecca says:

    I began to keep a notebook and listed all the books I read in it a few years ago. An old colleague did it to keep track of the books she had read and although it initially was a lot of effort, I loved keeping count of how many books I was reading month by month and year by year. My memory is rubbish also so it’s great to have something to refer back to. I love the sounds of your reading journal…..but that would eat into my precious reading time too much!
    However, this year I’ve decided to try keeping an electronic log and am trying Goodreads. It’s frustrating me as I don’t find it very user friendly, or is this just the app? I live on Kindle Fire so access it via this. Will keep with it though!

    • Anne says:

      I hope you figure out a way to use it easily. Maybe it’s just the app? I usually do goodreads on my desktop (although I do occasionally use the iphone app) and it generally works smoothly.

      • Laura says:

        I definitely prefer using it in the browser on my laptop. I feel like there are a few small bits of functionality (like the date read) that I can’t find on the iPhone app. But I can’t say I know about the Kindle Fire app. Good luck!

  30. Laura says:

    I’m a Goodreads fan, too. Like you said, it’s nice to be able to sort and reflect, for myself and for making recommendations to others. I’m also a little geeky about my year in books number. 🙂 This is the first year I’m tackling a specific TBR list. Your books journal looks really cool! I like those lists. I feel like if I had that at my fingertips I would never make it through my TBR list because it would ALWAYS be growing.

  31. Mandy says:

    I almost always borrow books from the library, rather than purchasing them. The library’s website stores everything I’ve checked out, and it also allows me to leave stars and reviews. I don’t always do that, but at least the tracking is effortless on my part!

  32. Liza says:

    I first started tracking books I read in 2013. It was more to see how many I read in a year than to keep track of what I liked. I just had a page on my blog that I added to. Last year, I joined goodreads. It’s useful, but it can be frustrating to me at times.

    I like the idea of a paper journal. I’m thinking of starting a paper list of want to read books. I have all these books that I want to read, but I forget which ones I want when I go to grab a book. One thing I do is if I’m out and see a book that looks interesting, I take a photo of it with my phone so I can add it to my to-read list later. I also can look at my phone photos when I’m in a bookstore or library.

  33. Dawn says:

    I use Goodreads, which is a great tool. I also post every book I read, usually with a review, on a page on my blog. I’ve been doing this since 2009. I also keep a Pinterest board for each year’s finished book list.

    I love that journal you have and I am considering buying one, but I think it’ll end up as one more thing on my shelf that I won’t use. So I’m talking myself out of it.

  34. I’ve been keeping track of the books I read in the paper journal for about 8 years now. I just record the date, title, and author. For a few years I was using a Facebook-based application called weRead to rate and review books. People kept recommending Goodreads but I didn’t want to go through the hassle of transitioning because there was no Export feature on weRead. Then the app stopped working and I lost ALL my information. Thankfully I still had the list of books read from my paper journal, which I eventually entered into Goodreads, but I lost all those reviews I wrote. I contacted the company who ran the app and they said there was no way to get the data back. I still get annoyed when I think about it. I have a backup of my Goodreads now that at least has the ratings, though not the reviews.

  35. I love Goodreads! I track every thing there … plus I have a very elaborate spreadsheet where I enter more specific information (like author’s gender, what format I read the book in, etc) so that I can do my super nerdy pie-chart-tastic “What I Read in 2014” post at the end of every year. Yes, I’m aware that this makes me uber dorky, but it’s always one of my favorite blog posts of the year. 😉

    The last two years I’ve tracked the settings of all the books I’ve read on Google maps, but this year I’m switching to Pinterest maps, because it’s more visually appealing.

    Here’s my “Book Locations of 2015” board, if you want to try something similar! 🙂 https://www.pinterest.com/quirkybookworm/book-locations-of-2015/

  36. Alicia says:

    I, too, use Goodreads. I discovered it a few years ago and love it! I’m also a list making nerd so that journal looks fabulous! I’m off to order one now.

  37. Laura says:

    Books that have been read are simply listed in a word document along with the date it was finished. Books I would like to read are looked up in my library system and saved in a list. That way I can easily go in and order whatever looks good! I am seriously considering Goodreads now, though!

  38. Jessica says:

    I am a Goodreads fanatic, I don’t read anything without tracking it on Goodreads first. I also keep track of the books I read on a Pinterest board and a Listology list. This year I’ve also gone the route of adding a 4th by way of a notebook (just a blank one) to help keep track of my reading challenges. Obv I’m quite serious about lists and keeping track of my reading habits.

  39. Sue Stokke says:

    I didn’t read for pleasure until I was 40 (got burned out reading self-help and text books.) When I did start reading, a girlfriend told me she wished she had kept track of everything she’d read. So I decided to do that. I kept a spreadsheet of books I’ve read and books I want to read. It’s just the title, author and year. In 2013 I discovered goodreads and I love it. So now I actually track both places (probably wouldn’t have to.) I just turned 59 so that’s nineteen years of reading to look back on. I found this past year that I started reading things of more substance (used to be all fluff!)

  40. Leigh Kramer says:

    I log every book I’ve read into a lined journal- title, author, and date. I just realized this spring will mark 10 years! I also keep track in Goodreads, where I’ll add a review, which does help me remember what I liked and didn’t like about a book. I love looking back and seeing what I read from year to year and what trends emerge.

  41. Kat says:

    I use both Goodreads and a newer website called LeafMarks. It was designed by some readers not happy with policy changes to Goodreads. Because I read more YA (it was founded by young women) I get better book recommendations from friends and other users. But I still use Goodreads (with my Kindle) and because it has ALL of the books I want to read (LeafMarks has only been around a year and relies a lot on volunteer “librarians” to add books and ISBNs).

  42. Lisa says:

    I have nothing to add to the tracking discussion..I just had to comment and tell you how excited I am to have stumbled upon your blog. You are amazing !! I love that you give so much of your time to inspire people to read…and I AM VERY INSPIRED!! I have always loved reading, but let it take a back seat during the last few years. But I am SO EXCITED this year, and that is largely because of your blog!! thank you thank you!!

  43. Katie says:

    I track pretty much everything I’ve read on Goodreads, plus keep a running list of titles, authors, & dates read in a simple Word document. It took me a while to come around to Goodreads — the aesthetics of the site just didn’t do it for me at first — but now I’m kind of obsessed.

    I derive HUGE satisfaction from (nerd alert!) tallying up books I’ve read & moving them from “to-read” to “currently-reading” to “read”, then sorting them into shelves by category or genre. It’s usually the first thing I do after I close a book I’ve just finished — I’m just that excited about it.

    • Amy says:

      So glad to hear I’m not the only one who loves changing a book status from to-read to read on Goodreads LOL.

      It took me a while to come around to it too. Same as you, it just didn’t flow right. I think they’ve made some excellent improvements, especially with the iOS app.

      I’m addicted.

  44. Amy says:

    I’ve been using Goodreads for a few years now. After trying to find a way to keep track of my books, I found this to be the easiest way for me. I check it before a buy a new book – in case I already have it. Plus it helps me locate a book. Sometimes I think I have it in paperback, when it’s actually on my Kindle. I love the reading challenge too.

  45. Anne says:

    I love Goodreads now, thanks to everyone here. The ISBN scan is pretty cool, and I’ve got a few shelves going. I even got my 2015 shelf going right away! But that paper journal is great, and it would be fun to try!

  46. Lisa says:

    We must be on the same wavelength, because just yesterday I posted about my desire to read more in 2015. I gave myself a challenge to read at least 30 new (to me) books this year, and have set up a page on my blog (https://lisarwatkins.wordpress.com/2015-reading-challenge/) where I will track all of the books I’ve read in 2015, along with a very brief synopsis/review.

    I’m also trying to utilize Goodreads more, and am quite intrigued by your new journal! I will have to check that out.

  47. Stacey says:

    I love the look of your journal so much that I actually just ordered one 🙂 I have been keeping track on Goodreads for a bit and actually use my Twitterature posts to keep track as well. Thanks for the inspiration as always!

  48. Amanda says:

    Anne, first of all I adore your blog! I too have been using Goodreads for some time, and I have a fairly comprehensive list back to 2011 or so. I LOVE being able to scan the bar codes on my books and add them to my ‘currently reading’ shelf and then when I finish them they get counted into my annual reading challenge.
    I too am starting a reading journal for the first time this year and I am using a blank moleskine journal that I’ve had for an embarrassing 5 years and had only scribbled on a couple of pages. It’s the closest to a new year’s resolution I will get to making the change to track the things I read and my reactions to them away from Goodreads throughout the year.
    Because I mostly get books at the library, I think it will be great to have some extra ideas recorded for when I no longer have the book at the ready to refer to.

    Happy Reading!

  49. Vanessa says:

    I’m with you. I love tracking what I read, but I kinda hate writing reviews. When I first finish a book, I want a few days to think about it before I write about it. Then I forget to write about it until I realize I need to do a roundup post, and then I have to try to remember everything I liked/disliked about it. Vicious cycle.

  50. For the past 10 years I’ve been keeping a list of books that I read in a small notebook. No reviews or comments, just the list of titles. I keep the list of books that I want to read on a google document so I can look at it on my phone when I’m at the library. And I can add to it easily anytime I hear a good recommendation. It works for me!

  51. Tasha Schultz says:

    I started using a paper journal after reading an article in 1999 about people who have read 100+ books per year. I was wondering how much I actually read. I picked up an inexpensive Pooh journal. I list books by year and then number them as they are read. I make small notes if I liked them, quit reading, # in a series, and such. I enjoy looking back through the books I have read and also the number read each year. I can see the year my daughter died I dove headfirst into reading. The year of my divorce, I was out a lot and read only 50 books.

    I keep track of books I want to buy on my Amazon Wish List. For me, this is an easy way to browse a used book store and find hidden gems. I have used Good Reads in the past. It was annoying to post online and in the book – so I quit the online.

    Thanks for initiating this conversation.

  52. Amber says:

    I use Pinterest and like that I can make a page for each year. I pin the cover of the book I read and a short sentence about the book. I like that I can easily see each book and also have a count easily accessible for each year.

  53. Katie Roper says:

    Lately, I’ve started being more diligent about tracking what I read on goodreads as well. I’m also trying to leave reviews more frequently seeing as they can be extremely beneficial to writers. I enjoy talking about books so I’ve started trying to engage more with the social aspect of goodreads. I’ve started to find myself searching my mind for books I’ve read for my own recollection or to recommend to others and sometimes come
    Up short, not always remembering the title and or author. I also, less diligently, use Pinterest for tracking book but have found that less effective. I like the idea of tracking via a journal, but I find it easier to pull out my phone when I finish or start a book. Also, I’m trying to have less clutter around and it’s difficult enough trying to keep my physical book collection under control without adding a journal.

  54. Hope says:

    I’ve kept a book list/journal since junior high with the title, author and one word (or 3) review. What I love about Goodreads is the app. I can quickly scan the barcode and it is immediately listed on my “currently reading” shelf. It doesn’t matter to me how long it stays there. Once finished it goes to my current year shelf and then sub shelves by genre and/or author. I give ratings and short reviews and it works for me. It probably wouldn’t work without the app to quickly scan the book. I also keep a word doc for each year listing the title, author and those one word reviews (old habits die hard, LOL!) Books used to go from the word doc to Goodreads, now it’s the opposite. 🙂

  55. Laura says:

    Last year, I tracked books on a (lengthy) google docs file, where I recorded title, author, date of publication and my review and favorite quotes. I also keep a paper journal for when I’m sitting and don’t want to get on the computer. Need to combine both at some point. I use goodreads just for quick tracking but keep my thoughts to myself besides the star rating. This year I’ve added an excel sheet I found on BookRiot that tracks a few other stats also.

  56. Donna says:

    Amazing post, Anne! I’ve never kept a reading journal. But it’s a wonderful idea. I love all the cool features of your journal, especially the detailed lists of Manbooker Prize winners, Oprah’s Book Club picks, etc. I track my reads on Goodreads, but I really need to update it.

    Happy Reading!

  57. Kimberly says:

    I love this post! I have been trying to figure out how to keep track of what I’ve read for me, what I’ve read with/for my kids (for when they ask me to re-read that book about the rabbits that clean the house, for example), what I own and what I’ve borrowed (from library, friend, etc.). I love to see how you do it and contemplate how I can/will do better at it. I’ve got good reads and imported all of my amazon purchases (had to cull my husband’s books from the list). I don’t find the interface appealing, which is one reason I’m not drawn to using it. I prefer the digital functionality/search ability though; so, I’m still trying to find a digital solution that I like.

  58. I started tracking my reading on Goodreads in late 2013, I think. I don’t think I could handle a paper journal on top of that, although yours is adorable! I am trying to keep better track of life in the paper planner my mom got me for Christmas this year, though, so we’ll see how long that lasts. 😉

  59. Laura says:

    i love Goodreads, too. I’ve probably added more TBR books thanks to this blog and the readers’ comments than from anywhere else. I will always give a star rating, but I rarely write a review. I don’t want to take the time away from reading!

  60. Beth says:

    These are fascinating comments and I am going to need to come back and read them all later, when I have more time. So many comments on this post already!

    Here’s my story. When I started tracking my books, I was closing a chapter on my life of education (college, and then working at the university) and beginning the next: motherhood. I planned to stay at home while my husband finished his degree and went into college. While I truly wanted to be a mother, I’ve always felt like learning was a part of me — and reading a variety of books (both for pleasure and for learning) was something I wanted to do.

    I know you’ve talked about this in regard to fitness trackers and whatnot, and Gretchen Rubin says it in her books — the simple act of recording your progress on a goal makes you more apt to actually do it. I decided I’d write short little reviews on each book I’ve read, plus some stats: the date I’d finished it and the number of pages in each book. Because I was tracking the books, I could see if I was meeting my goal to keep my mind sharp through reading, and I became a more well-rounded reader than I ever had been in the past.

    I started tracking my books in January 2005 on a php forum that my husband and I ran for our family (you know, before the days of Facebook for all … we are tech nerds!), then I switched over to my personal blog six months after that and have been recording book reviews there for almost ten years. (I do have ten years’ worth of data now, though! It is so interesting to me to see the ebb and flow of my yearly page counts.)

    I joined Goodreads in 2007 (I think) and spent several hours copying-and-pasting my reading data over there. It really is my book brain now; I don’t write extensively about the book, but I do write a few sentences (or paragraphs) for each book I read. I love when others give reviews on Goodreads, because then I can see what all my friends have to say about a certain book all in one place.

    I love to poke around on Goodreads, seeing what people have on their shelves. I think I like reading ABOUT books almost more than reading them, which I know is completely wrong! But that’s one of the reasons I like your blog (and your comments section!) so much!

    • liz n. says:

      Many reasons. For someone who blogs about books, journaling is a useful reference tool. If you belong to a book club, you might keep a book journal as part of book discussions. Some people simply like to keep a record of what they’ve read. I journal partly because I like to write, and I like to write about my books. I also use my journals as references for book recommendations. It’s a neat part of your personal history.

      • MamaMouse93 says:

        I keep a database so I know what I’ve read by each author, plus I know which books I’ve missed, plus which books I own. I REALLY hate buying what I THOUGHT was a new book because they’ve put new art on the cover. I have over 2,000 books in my personal library, it’s hard to remember which ones I own already. In addition I go thrift ingredients, and having access on my Google drive account insures I don’t purchase duplicates (unless they are specifically for someone else).

        This works for movies and video games, too!

  61. ailikate says:

    So my one problem with Goodreads, and the reason I abandoned it, was that it does not let you mark a book as “did not finish” or something similar. I start a lot of books and am not at all shy about dropping one that isn’t working for me and on Goodreads I either had to leave it in currently reading (discouraging, when I have in fact given it up), put it in read (feels dishonest) or delete it altogether (annoying if I come across it again and don’t realize that I’ve already given it a shot). I’m trying to find a system that will get around this, but haven’t come up with one yet.

    • Katie says:

      I’m so glad you brought this up! It’s one of the reasons I almost abandoned Goodreads altogether last year, until I discovered this feature:

      You can add a new shelf (call it “unfinished” or “abandoned” or whatever,) then click on “edit” next to your Bookshelves. It takes you to a page where you manage all your shelves. All you have to do is check the “exclusive” box next to your “unfinished” shelf — this means your unfinished, to-read, currently-reading, and read shelves are all mutually exclusive, & creates another option besides read, currently-reading, and to-read.

      I hope this makes sense & hope that helps!

  62. Dasa says:

    I did not use to keep a reading journal. However now, when I am reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina I really think that it would be great to have some notes written down, commenting on some aspects of this masterpiece.

  63. Melodee says:

    I’ve kept track of my reading in some form or another for many years: some years it’s a paper journal with commentary, some years it has just been a list of titles on a note in my phone. Anyway, on New Year’s Day my mom and I must have spent a full hour talking about and looking at our reading lists from the last couple years. She asked for a recommendation, and I just flipped through my book journal and found one I had written a review for – went and grabbed it off my shelf – she read it, and returned it a week later. I would never have thought to recommend that one if I hadn’t been looking at my records. 🙂

    I have never used Goodreads, but seeing all the positive comments I think I may need to check it out!

  64. Jennifer H says:

    I find it awesome that you have 122 comments and you just posted this yesterday. Samuel came in while I was reading this and I told him about goodreads and showed him my account and now he wants his own goodreads account! Start ’em young!

  65. Ariel says:

    I use goodreads, but I rarely remember to keep up with it as I’m reading a book and more tend to go back through to add an entire series when I remember it. This year, though, I’m trying to put at least all of my challenge books on goodreads. I semi-recently discovered their iPhone app, and I like being able to update my progress and see the percentage I’ve read, but they only let you do that for one most recent Currently Reading book at a time (at least, as far as I can tell)!

  66. Roslyn says:

    For many years I have recorded what I have read – usually a one or two sentence synopsis and a score out of 10. Only takes a couple of minutes.

  67. Denisa Dellinger says:

    Well I guess it’s official! People who read on a regular basis, heck not regular but “inhales” books like to keep records on those books. Before I even thought about computers or even owned one, I began journaling about which books I read and what I liked about them. I once saw a beautiful little journal for books at Barnes and Nobel that had Jane Austen on the cover. Jane Austen! Man I getting that! I thought but when I looked inside, I was sorely disappointed, no space to write what I wanted to say, how did I like it, my analysis of each character that was unique, what was it about, I needed as many pages as I needed, so I went ahead and bought a pretty colored small spiral bound notebook to record my treasures in. I recorded the date I started it and the ending date, it was amazing how quickly I finished the book or how long it took. I used to start one right after I finished one at that time. Then as I put the books away that I had read I began to think of how would I know what books I truly owned and who were the authors and when were they written. I hated to just box up read books without some kind of record, because I went “booking” all the time an bought all kinds of books. I didn’t want a repeat of one I had read or had so I got little index cards and index card holders and began to catalogue them in alphabetical order. Am I crazy or what? I dare not get rid of them because they are my old friends and they are collectables, cheap as they were.
    With Goodreads, I have gone through all the books in the genres I have read and like and listed the ones I have read in the whole of my life and listed the ones I want to read so I will always have a source from where to go. I don’t read as much as I have in the past because of the purchase of my computer, I am reading on here most of the time and it has taken the place of just watching tv. But there are so many book and so little time! I simply must return to my passion.

  68. Kayris says:

    Hardcore goodreads user here. I love the reading challenge and also the recommendations. I’ve discovered some really great books through the recommendations feature that I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.

    I was keeping track of my daughter’s chapter books too. But now both kids have kindles so I think I’m going to set them up with their own accounts. They are both competitive (like me) and would enjoy the challenge.

    I usually rate the books I read but only write reviews for the books I feel strongly about, so books with written reviews are almost all 4/5 star or 1 star, because I feel compelled to share how much I loved or hated a book.

  69. Sue says:

    I’ve kept a list of titles, and usually authors since my freshman year in high school. That was 1968! It’s just a spiral notebook and it’s been recopied a time or 2. I didn’t get them all, but surely most. I’m at around 3100 now. The only thing I wish I had done was record the rereads. I was a BIG rereader in my younger days.
    I have jumped on the good reads bandwagon now ~ but still love my tattered list.

    • Denisa Dellinger says:

      Laura,
      I just watched your youtube post on your book journals. I think it is so neat how you set the journals up. I like that you have goals, I haven’t been so good with goals lately but they do help keep us on track in whatever we want to do whether it is reading or things we have to accomplish. If you list your goals, it is easier to get them done because you can break them up and it does not feel like a total fail if you just get three things done in a list of say…7. Great ideas!

  70. Cathy says:

    Hi Anne–just discovered your blog! Your paper journal sounds interesting, and I’m wondering–do you know approx. how many books the “books read” section holds?

      • Cathy says:

        Thanks, Anne, for your reply! The journal you described sounds like it would be fun to keep, and I wanted to know if it held a substantial number of books read. I have to tell you that I am so impressed that you are as active as you are in the comments section!

  71. Audrey says:

    I use Pinterest. I keep a separate board for each year. Been doing this since 2012 and I LOVE being able to look back. Sometimes, if I don’t remember a book, seeing the cover triggers it for me. I do like your journal though and I wonder if I’d actually take the time to keep up with it.

  72. Kate says:

    After reading this post a couple of weeks ago, I decided to start using a reading journal (in addition to goodreads, which I’m obsessed with). I’m an avid reader so I’ve actually been able to get a lot of use of the journal in this amount of time and I’m hooked! I tend to just use goodreads to track what I want to read, what I have read and/or abandoned, and give it a star rating/categorization. I don’t like to add comments or reviews for the most part. But the reading journal lets me write down key points and thoughts and quotes and I love that it’s just for me! Thanks for posting this, Anne – you have enhanced my reading life!

  73. Beth says:

    I am reading and saving up posts to eventually start my own book reviews blog and I ordered a copy of the journal you posted to keep topics in mind for my reading/posting. I have a blank journal that I use as well, but I think it will help me further organize my thinking. I have loved Goodreads for years, although it is sad to see how much my reading has reduced since I went back to work after having my boy (it didn’t drop off during maternity leave because I did a lot of one handed reading on my phone whilst nursing). Thanks for the tip to help organize my thoughts for my own blog when I am ready to start it. As usual, I love your blog.

  74. Kari says:

    Joined Goodreads a while ago but never did anything much with it. In fact, besides books for homeschooling, I haven’t been reading much for me. Enter 2015. I’m making a real effort to read grown-up books for me that don’t always include child-rearing or educational info. Now I’m obsessed with Goodreads – particularlly reading other people’s to-read and read lists for new ideas! (in related news, just friend requested you! 😉 )

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