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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?