The next best thing to reading: how 15 WSIRN listeners track their books

The next best thing to reading: how 15 WSIRN listeners track their books

Hello readers, it's Tuesday, and our new episode of What Should I Read Next is a little bit different. Today I'm talking with 15 different WSIRN listeners about how they track their reading. We cover the usual suspects—namely, Goodreads—but the variety of ways you all track your books is fascinating, inspiring, and so much nerdy fun to hear about. 

We cover it all in today's episode; I'm sharing the visuals that make some of the methods make more sense below. 


Pictured above: Elizabeth's commonplace book


The MMD printable reading journal


Alice's Trello method


Deanna's bookmarks


A peek inside Anne's bookish bullet journal


Another look at Anne's bookish bullet journal

If you keep a bullet journal, or want to learn more about it, check out Anne's just-released class Bullet Journaling for Book Lovers.

Also mentioned in this episode:

• Modern Mrs Darcy daily kindle deals
• How to download audiobooks from your smartphone to your library
• How to add any web page to your phone as an app icon (scroll down to #10)
Annie Jones's instagram account

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64 comments

    • Allison says:

      Question…I did the reading challenge last year in Goodreads for the first time and couldn’t figure out how to get any stats or a recap of the year…any ideas?

      • Jessica says:

        Go to your ‘read’ shelf (or any shelf, I think) and there should be an orange banner at the top that says “2016: See your year in books!” If you click on the banner, it will give you a recap.

    • Laura says:

      Thanks for this tip! I’ve hated how it always adds unfinished books to my read pile so I stopped adding them. And it’s helpful to know for creating other shelves as well.

    • ibeeeg says:

      I track my books that were placed on hold or don’t finish the same way as you, Jessica. It was awesome when Goodreads added the ability to create shelves as the primary shelf (I forget what they call this area).

    • Michelle says:

      This is what I do as well, Jessica. It took me a while to figure this out. I hated the idea of deleting books simply for them not to show up as “read”. Somewhere along the way I stumbled on the ability to add the additional shelf. It always bothered me to put something in there, like a failed relationship. I now designate two shelves. One “did not fit” (sort of a no-fault, but not for me), and one “false starts” (not the right time, but would give the book a second go at another time). One thing not mentioned in the Goodreads link is to ‘uncheck’ the box for recommendations on your DNF shelf. This only matters if you utilize recommendations, but if you do you’ll want to omit these books.

    • JoLene says:

      I do this too. I actually have 3 additional exclusive shelves. One is DNF, one is reference, and one is owned-tbr, this is as opposed to “want to read” that GR has. One advantage of doing it this way is that if you look at a list of books, it will show your if you have it tagged as one of your exclusive shelves.

      I have reference because I like to cook and knit so I have a lot of cookbooks and knitting books — you don’t necessarily read them cover to cover, so I didn’t want to include in my stats, but I wanted to rate and review them.

    • Marie says:

      The process is different on the phone app. Tap on the cover of a book, tap “want to read” and at the bottom of the next page select “create a new shelf”. Tap on that and name your shelf! I feel like I am missing so many options but using the phone app as opposed to going on the desktop.

  1. Halley says:

    My public library has a great list-keeping system that allows you to create multiple lists. I have TEN, including nonfiction, historical fiction, science fiction, memoir and biography, mystery/thriller, and plain ole fiction. I like having them on the library site because when I’m in the mood for a new biography, I can just go to my biography list, pick one, and request a hold so the next time I stop by, it’s waiting on the holds shelf under my name. You can also sort by author and how long they have been on your list, and see if there is a long holds list of people waiting for the same title all in one place. It’s like online shopping for books!

  2. D says:

    I use an Excel spreadsheet. I have columns for the year I read it, tile, author, series name, genre, my star rating, and my short review. This is my fourth year using it and I love being able to sort and search it.

    • Elle says:

      Yup, me too. My excel file include books I want to read, along with where I first saw them referenced and date added to list. I also include a blurb about what interested me in the book in the first place. I always carry around index cards so if I am not at my computer I can jot down the info and add it to my spreadsheet at some point.

  3. Kari says:

    For kids, you can try Bookopolis.com to let kids track books they Read, Want to Read, and are Reading Now. It’s like Goodreads made just for kids under 13. I created this platform when I realized my own elementary school readers were more likely to pick up a book their friend recommended than listen to what I suggested. Happy Reading!

  4. Okay… so you may recall that I’m a VA so it probably comes as no shock that I like lists and things… I’ve been putting this together… now I need to go tick off the ones I’ve read. I may add an “in progress” spot to check, but possibly not. There’s quite a lot there as is… roflol.

  5. Merrill says:

    I use good reads, but had never before seen the “year in books”. I love seeing all the covers, and the loved the idea of printing them to put in my journal- but can’t figure out how to print so they don’t look funky? Can anyone help? Thanks! Loved the episode and hearing about all the different methods of tracking!

    • Beth says:

      I’ve never tried printing, but I did put the information in my blog last year by doing multiple screen captures / screenshots and putting each image in my blog. Could you put the images in a word doc and print?

  6. One of my new goals for 2017 was to start keeping track of the books I read throughout the year. I’ve never kept track before and I’m already a little surprised at the results I’m seeing! Right now I’m just keeping a simple list (dates, titles, finished/abandoned) in my bullet journal, but after listening to this podcast I downloaded the Goodreads and LibraryThing apps to check out. Very timely post for me, thanks!

  7. Susan in TX says:

    Such a fun episode! I love Deanna’s bookmarks. I keep my records multiple ways, but I’ve never thought about doing an accordion bookmark, and I love that it would be handily tucked in (at least one of) my current read (s), and can track books I’ve enjoyed without having to grab the phone/laptop, etc. Paper is the best…I mean, you can’t fold the phone like an accordion, can you? 😉

  8. Cathy Heine says:

    I am really enjoying your Podcasts! My TBR list is growing tremendously! Also, I have begun to use my library much more often – which I love!
    I track my books in a small spiral-bound notebook. I write the month and the year. Under that I add all of the books I read that month.
    I have to say that this is a very successful method for me. I have been doing it since October 1997!
    It is also very easy to see that I read about 4 to 5 books a month. I especially enjoy being able to flip back to a certain time in my life to see what I was reading.
    The only gap I have is October of 2002 to March 2003. November 4, 2002 is when we adopted and brought our infant son home! I may have been reading then, but I have no recollection of what it was!
    Thank you for your website! It is definitely a part of my reading life now!

  9. Sarah says:

    Such a fun episode! I use Goodreads, but I also love using Pinterest. I just have a basic board called “books read in 2017.” I love that I can click on the board and automatically see the number of pins (the number of books I’ve read so far that year), but I especially love scrolling through and seeing all of the book covers. I’m a visual person, so I love having those visual reminders of what I’ve read and not just a list.

  10. tdgl says:

    Okay, just to geek out a little bit more, I use the “categories” function in LibraryThing to catalog my SEWING PATTERNS. I often can’t remember if I already have a pattern when I’m shopping, so this eliminates double purchases. Also, I can scan through the images without having to flip through the actual patterns. Screenshot at http://www.instagram.com/p/BP8sEm2jJ8n/

    Otherwise, I keep a Google spreadsheet of books I want to read and where I heard about them.

  11. Anki says:

    I have been a member at LibraryThing since February 2006, and I joined Goodreads in December 2009. I track my reading in both places, but my focus is different on each site. LibraryThing is first and foremost my personal library catalogue, so I rarely add books I do not own and I try to be exact when it comes to edition information (I am still in the process of cataloging everything, but I *think* I am past the halfway point in my efforts now at 2,481 books). Goodreads is where I catalogue nearly all my reading (except some comic series), and it is the primary repository of my ridiculously massive and ever growing TBR list. (It should be noted that LibraryThing *does* have social aspects to it, they are just nowhere near front and center like they are at Goodreads)

    In addition to these two sites, I have been keeping a (probably more complicated than necessary) spreadsheet in Google Docs since 2007. Each year actually has three sheets: one for all reading, one for books, and one for manga and graphic novels. I keep a record of title, author, date started, date finished, whether or not it is a new read or reread, and other additional notes like if it is part of a series or if it was an ebook or audiobook or if I read it for a book group. In the last couple years I also added in color coding for non-fiction and whether or not I own the book (and further if it was a new purchase that year or if it had been on my shelves a while).

    And last June I started keeping a paper book journal using a bullet journal format. I have the lists of books I have read and personal reading challenge lists, but the bulk of it has actually been my “book thoughts” section where I write a little paragraph about each book I read. A lot of the time I don’t feel these sorts of things really constitute a review, so I have been reluctant to post them on any of the book sites I frequent, and they wouldn’t really fit in my spreadsheet either. So having my book journal has been *amazing* for this. I think I can easily say my book journal is the best thing to happen in my reading life in the past year, and I was inspired to use the bullet journal format here. So thank you, Anne!

  12. Renee P. says:

    Am I the only one who uses Evernote?? I have a notebook called “Reading/Books” (because I keep track of my son’s reading, our read-alouds, book recommendations, and TBR), and I just created a note for each year’s reading: 2016 Reading Log, 2017 Reading Log (last year was the first year I started keeping track!). I break the year down into months and keep track of what I read each month. If I didn’t finish the book that month I will say “started”, if I abandon it I put a DNF (did not finish) next to the title. I don’t always put author’s names. I used a star system last year but I’m haven’t done it so far this year; I think I need to go back to it because I did like seeing which ones were my absolute favorite from last year.

    • Mimi says:

      I use Evernote also. It is so handy to have my TBR list always in my phone. I have notes titled “Books Read 2017”, “Books Read 2016” and my TBR list of “Great Books for 2017” which I copied over from “Great Books for 2016” and it keeps growing. I track and total by genre/type (Fiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, Christian, Children’s) and have a star system so it is easy to pick my favorites for each year. After listening to the podcast I am going to start adding the date I finished the book.

  13. Megan says:

    I’ve been a committed Goodreads user since 2009, but in all those years I haven’t found a satisfactory way to handle books I reread. My stopgap measure is to add titles to a ‘reread’ shelf, and add the dates in my review. Example:
    Second read: December 13-14, 2016
    First read: December 24-26, 2015

    To date I have kept the dates read from my first read so it won’t reduce the stats on previous years, but it means a reread doesn’t count toward the current year’s total. Anyone have a brilliant method for handling rereads?

    • Anki says:

      Well, until they get around to actually making a reread feature (people have been asking for a proper one on Goodreads for *years*), the workaround is to shelve additional editions of the book. This maintains the previous record(s) you have for the book while allowing you to count the reread for things like the reading challenge and your yearly stats.

      If you want to use this method, go to the book page and click on the ‘all editions’ link in the info area. This brings you to the page with all the editions on it. Click on the title of one that you don’t have shelved (*don’t* click the ‘switch to this edition’ button), then scroll down to the review area. On the right side of the line that says ‘My Review’ in pale grey text you will see ‘Edit · Review this edition · Switch to this edition’. If you click on ‘Review this edition’ it will add it to your shelves (defaulting to your ‘read’ shelf) and will bring up the review dialog box. Edit as you need to and you’ll have a record for your reread.

      Now, this method is *far* from perfect. Many books have a minimal number of extra editions, so once you’ve gone through all of them you are out of luck (adding new editions to the database just to facilitate rereading is frowned upon to say the least). It’s also not going to give you accurate information for things like page counts and book format, so it can screw with your stats in that way. And if catalog integrity is important to you then you are going to *hate* this method because it basically fills your catalog with junk data (with regards to accuracy, anyway).

      I do use this method to track my rereads, and I stick any extra editions onto a (non-exclusive; this is important!) shelf I made called stats-maintenance. That way if and when they actually make a proper rereading feature I can go back and retroactively edit my books pretty easily.

      • Michelle says:

        Perfect, thank you SO much! I have been re reading many of my favorite books since the fall, revisiting ones I knew were comfort reads, evoking themes of peace and ease…something I have found exceedingly hard to grasp lately. There are time in our lives to push, grow, learn, explore new genres, and then there are time it is perfectly fine to retreat to a warm bath, a cup of tea, a big sweater, and all of our favorite books. Like old friends we know they are always there for us with open arms.

        • Anki says:

          I’m glad I could help solve that problem! It’s a solution that isn’t exactly obvious until you know about it, particularly when Goodreads conflates the act of reviewing a book with the act of shelving one.

          And I know what you mean about having times in our lives when rereads are exactly what needs to happen. It really is like going to visit old friends.

    • Anki says:

      And what do you know…they actually made the reread feature! It’s been, what, a week since I commented here? (Granted, they’ve been working on it for a long time, and I guess it had a lot of moving parts)

      They’ve said that it is being rolled out across the site semi-slowly. It went out to people active in the Goodreads Feedback forum, which is how I got it. Not sure when it will be fully rolled out, but it is worth checking to see if you have it! As it is, I am going through the somewhat slow process of consolodating my rereading dates and clearing out my duplicate editions.

      • Megan says:

        That’s amazing timing! I got lucky and the functionality has been made available on my account. Can’t wait to settle in tonight and clean up my rereads!

    • Anki says:

      You have found the podcast website! 🙂 The URL you’ve put in redirects automatically to the post here on Modern Mrs. Darcy. This post contains the show notes for episode 64. If you just put in the URL it takes you to the archive area where all the episode posts are located. Hope this helps!

  14. Libby says:

    I listened to the whole podcast wondering, “Will that method work for me?” And then the bookmark method came up and I knew this is what my heart has been searching for!

  15. Emily says:

    I have a 10 year journal where you have 4 lines to record your day. I use the year goal section at the beginning of the journal to record the books I’ve read. I keep a list of books I’d like to read in my Notes section on my iPhone. I also put them in a wishlist on Amazon.

  16. JoLene says:

    I do a combo of website and spreadsheet. This year, I actually “exported” my GR list and figured out how to import into my spreadsheet instead of re-typing each book/author/rating. So, on GR, I use shelves to track genres, individual challenges and any other category I need for my own personal reading goals (such as translated).
    I have a tab for each year and I track all the basics off the book but I also track my source (bought means paid money and read withing 6 months, TBR (owned more than 6 months) and library or KindleUnlimited. I also track the format: DTB, audio, kindle or the new one is A/K — which is using whispersync to switch back and forth.
    I then have a summary tab that summarized the number of books and pages per month and percentages for the source and formats. It has been really fun to see how my reading has shifted over the years — like finding audio books really bumped up my numbers.
    If I do really complicated reading challenges, I also have a tab for the challenge. For the basic ones, I can just track in the yearly tab. Although last year, I created my own person GR group to also track challenges. It was very useful because I could put all the book info in a post and then copy the post to the appropriate tracking thread since one of the fun things with challenges is to read one book for multiple challenges :-D.

  17. Karen says:

    I’ve been on Goodreads for years, but only recently got on LibraryThing. I use the latter as a catalog, but I’m also super excited about their newest feature — Tiny Cat (https://www.librarycat.org). While I love being able to catalog my books on Library Thing, I find the interface to be not so pretty. It’s kind of like looking at a spreadsheet, though there are ways to tweak it.

    Tiny Cat is a pretty user interface that uses your Library Thing database and displays it in a pretty fashion. But more importantly, it is intended for tracking circulation. There’s 3 levels of accounts — personal for your own books is free with your Library Thing account; Volunteer and Paid Staff Levels have tiered pricing based on the number of volumes in your catalog. Even on the free personal level you can create patron accounts and check books out to your friends. You can even let your friends put your books on hold so you can deliver the book to them next time you see each other.

    I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this. First, it lets me live out the fantasy of being a librarian. I GET TO BE A LIBRARIAN!!! Sure it’s in my own little circle, but that counts, right? Second, I love that I will know where my books are when I lend them out. I’ve lost many books over the years because I’ve forgotten who borrowed them. Ditto with movies. I’ve already put all our DVDs and Blu-rays into Library Thing. My father has a habit of borrowing movies when I’m out of town and he’s at my house to feed the cat. I don’t know that he has them until I try to find the movie and sometimes he forgets what he’s borrowed. Now he’ll be able to go into Tiny Cat and check out a movie when he borrows one and I’ll know he’s done it.

    I have 2 bookshelves still to scan into Library Thing and I have a few more patron accounts to create and then I’ll be ready to reveal this awesomeness to my family and friends 🙂

    • Karen says:

      I forgot to mention — one of the particular reasons I’m excited is that I knit, crochet, spin, weave, and dye yarn. I have a wide circle of friends who also pursue these hobbies. Over the last few years I’ve developed an impressive collection of relevant books. Most of my fibery friends do not have the same depth in their libraries and I’m happy to have an easy way for them to access my books.

  18. JoAnna says:

    This is fun. I’ve been using Goodreads again in the last year or so, after we moved. I joined a long time ago, but after living in an area with very poor cell data, wasn’t keeping up with it. What has completely revolutionized my Goodreads is a browser extension that I use when on my laptop. Any book you look at on Goodreads (or on Amazon,) it will show you whether they are available at your local library, and in what format (paper, audio, e-book) I used to just keep a to-be-read list on my phone, but this has helped me actually get to the books, with a minimum of effort. 🙂 I’ve also gotten my Dad and a few other friends to start using Goodreads, which is fun, I’m enjoying the social aspect. And my tbr list is way out of control. The extension is simply called library extension, https://www.libraryextension.com/

  19. Kerri says:

    After listening to this podcast, it made me revisit my journal I keep what I have read in. I have been tracking my reading since 2003. I also restarted my Goodreads account and got the app! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Jan says:

    Enjoyed this special episode!

    I just started my first book club, and would love to hear a similar episode about how groups keep track of their book club reading.

    Thanks again !

  21. I have used a book journal for 30 years. Well, obviously it’s been in many journals. In 7th grade I got one for a gift and I have been using them ever since. I have a LOT of filled up journals in my cedar chest and I just finished another one the other day! I use one page for each book. I write the date I finished it, the title and author and a short summary and how I liked the book. Then I keep track of where I obtained the book, what genre it’s in, and how many pages. Also if it’s a book club book.

    • Anki says:

      I use the private notes field to track this information, but they also have a “Who recommended it to me” field. Both fields can be found in the “more details” section on your review of the book (because Goodreads oh-so-helpfully decided that all your interactions with a book would be called your review, whether or not you actually write a review). It should be noted that neither field is visible on the app (well, I know the private notes aren’t, and I generally don’t use the recommender field so I can’t test that), so any changes you want to make there need to be done on the full website.

      Once you’ve added the book to your TBR shelf, just go into the “edit review” screen. At that point, you will either see a review box with a little link to “more details” under it *or* you will see the review box with a number of fields below it (the setting is sticky so you aren’t constantly having to open (or close) the more details section; the site remembers which configuration you are using). If you have the link, just click on it and the fields will appear. Put in the information you want to capture, then click save.

      Both fields are viewable in “My Books” if you select them in the Settings menu. You can edit the private notes field under My Books (though it should be noted that saved changes will not appear until you refresh the page), but the recommender field is only changeable on the edit review page.

  22. Jenny says:

    Good Reads Users, I just discovered that Good Reads now allows you to “re-read” books, and say how many times you’ve read it! Click on the Edit Reviews part of a book and scroll down to see.

    • Anki says:

      Yeah, the reread feature is fairly new (and a long time in coming). It is also…unfortunately buggy, and affecting other areas of the site, typically surrounding read dates (most common things I’ve seen are saying a book is being read for the second time when it isn’t and finish dates not sticking properly). Overall I haven’t had a whole lot of trouble with it, but it’s advised that you check your reading record carefully, just in case.

  23. Kimberly Yue says:

    Like many people I use Goodreads to keep track of what I’m currently reading and how long it takes, etc. BUT, I craved a more visual way to see what I read, especially since I read nearly exclusively on my Kindle. Then one day, it dawned on me to start a Pinterest board. Now for each year I pin all the books that I read during that time and can quickly scroll through to see the covers. I love it!

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