A read books list?

June 23, 2011 at 12:00 am 19 comments

Just out of curiosity, do you keep a list of books you’ve read?

With handy online services like LibraryThing and Goodreads, keeping one’s own list is becoming somewhat technologically redundant, but I still definitely do. I started my list ten years ago this very day on June 23, 2001 and, at this point, its continuation is in part OCD nostalgia, part my librarianish tendencies, and part just good record-keeping.

It’s a little bit crazy to me that I’ve been doing this for a full decade, but it’s also a great list to look down and see how I’ve grown as a reader and how my tastes have evolved. Looking at my Goodreads list doesn’t provoke this kind of “change over time” thought, largely because it’s organized alphabetically rather than chronologically. Alphabetically may allow other users to see what I’ve read more easily, but it doesn’t give an overall sense of growth or personal taste. So I gave five stars to Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, but did I give it five stars when I was fourteen or five stars when I was twenty-four? I think that perspective matters when thinking about book recommendations.

So do you keep a list? And, if so, how do you organize it and what information do you include on it? Mine is just date completed, title, author, and an asterisk to note if the book is fiction or nonfiction (nonfiction gets the asterisk).

And, just for fun, when did you start your list and with what book? Mine begins with Elizabeth Peters’ Night of Four Hundred Rabbits, which I still remember reading at my uncle’s house in Santa Monica and thinking it was not Ms. Peters’ strongest effort. A disappointing beginning to my list!

Anyway, let’s hear your thoughts on books-read lists below!



Entry filed under: Musings and Essays. Tags: , .

Book Check! The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kate  |  June 23, 2011 at 12:19 am

    I used to keep a log in California, but no so much here. Somewhere along the line I developed an aversion to reading logs — elementary school, perhaps? — mostly because I resented having to prove that I was reading, and when I was reading less challenging books, it was annoying to have to add a new one to the list every single day.

    That said, I use GoodReads when I remember and I very much enjoy skimming through it from time to time, remembering all the good and not-so-good books I’ve read!

    • 2. Corey  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:44 am

      I definitely hear you re: elementary school reading lists. But then again I resented just about everything I had to do from grades 3-12, particularly when it was clearly just busy-work that would somehow prove that I had done or learned something. Note to teachers: busy-work only proves that students are capable of saying what you want them to say, not that they’ve actually learned anything. Blergh.

      Clearly a different gripe for a different time. So, yeah. Yay Goodreads!

  • 3. Britney  |  June 23, 2011 at 2:39 am

    I started mine in the month of June, too! June 9. 2002, and the first book noted is The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones. I track the date finished, title, author, whether or not I owned the book (which is kind of a silly column now since I don’t keep all the books I read) and whether or not I would recommend it to someone. Mine was a paper list that moved to Excel when it got a little long and now I keep it in Google Docs so I can access it from anywhere.

    I’m missing some more recent books (they’re recorded elsewhere and I need to transfer them over) but I’m currently at 893 books on the list. If I finish the five or so books I’m reading by the end of the weekend as I kind of hope to do, I’ll have 900 in just over 9 years. Not too bad when you consider that I barely finished anything in 2007.

    • 4. Britney  |  June 23, 2011 at 2:41 am

      The best part is to know what I read at certain times of my life, and I kind of wish I had started the list in 1999 so I could track just how many times I read Harry Potter. I think I read a Harry Potter book a week my freshman year of high school – a whole year before I started keeping track!

    • 5. Corey  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:47 am

      How funny! Apparently there is something about June that spurs these things. :) Anyway, I love your idea of using Google Docs so you can access it anywhere; I’m still a few technological steps behind you as I have a copy on my harddrive and on a USB stick to use in a pinch or when traveling.

      And definitely congratulations on averaging 100 books a year for the past nine years! What an achievement!

      • 6. Britney  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:50 am

        If it’s an Excel or Word document it’s super easy to import the file to Google Docs. :) It takes too long for my computer to open Excel which is why I switched.

        • 7. Corey  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:54 am

          Is it weird that I’ve grown attached to my outdated Word document with a table in it? I started it so long ago, it isn’t even a proper Excel spreadsheet! I think if I made the switch to a Google Docs spreadsheet, I might get carried away with new columns and categories and it would get monstrous. But I so like the idea of it being accessible wherever. I’m torn!

        • 8. Britney  |  June 24, 2011 at 2:39 am

          My spreadsheet is definitely monstrous. It’s a little out of hand…

          It’s shared so you can even look at it: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0An3c24cYgjyHcmRRdnVmY3AwTkRGR1RMdmsxaGpJYmc&hl=en_US

        • 9. Corey  |  June 24, 2011 at 7:07 am

          It’s totally amazing! I’m on the world’s slowest internet connection right now and it keeps having to stop my scrolling to load more rows, which is an impressive sign of your list’s remarkable monstrousness. :)

  • 10. Lisa Hill  |  June 23, 2011 at 2:48 am

    I’ve been keeping reading journals for nearly 15 years now, and I also blog my reading at anzlitlovers.wordpress.com. I keep track of it all on a sortable Excel file which records date, title, author, country of origin, type of book etc, with a separate worksheet for what’s on the TBR (which eventually gets transferred to the record of reading page). My very first book on file is Palace Walk by Mahfouz Maguib, back in 1997.
    But there’s a vast number of books that I read before I became so (obsessively?) organised and I’ve use Good Reads to track those. I used to use Library Thing but it’s too clunky and not very interactive.
    Not having a reading journal is like not having photos of your friends…

    • 11. Corey  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Your list sounds so impressive! I guess most of my reading is either American or British so I didn’t feel the need to note country of origin, but I love that you do! And it probably helps to have more genre categories beyond fiction and nonfiction.

      • 12. Lisa Hill  |  June 24, 2011 at 3:12 am

        Hey Corey, reading only from your UK or US comfort zone sounds like a bit of a literary transgression to me!
        That’s a suggestion for your next topic:)

        • 13. Corey  |  June 24, 2011 at 7:09 am

          I read lots of things from other places, I just tend to enjoy US/UK books the most and thus they take up the bulk of my list. But thanks for the suggestion; I could probably do with some more African or South American literary experimentation in my life. :)

  • 14. Eva  |  June 23, 2011 at 7:38 am

    I only started keeping track in Jan 2006, so not nearly as long ago as you! I just have the lists on my blog, haven’t transferred them over to LT. I’m afraid if I do, I’ll be driven insane by trying to think of every book I’ve ever read. LOL I wish I could go back in time and make my childhood self start tracking in a safe place!

    • 15. Corey  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:50 am

      YES! I totally agree! It was so arbitrary that I started my list when I did; I wish I had been a little more OCD when I was wee so I could have the full reading record. Now it’s just mind-boggling to try and figure out every book I’ve read in retrospect.

  • 16. SilverSeason  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I have kept reading lists in notebooks or memo books for more years than I can remember. They had a tendency to get misplaced, so. I started listing via posts on line on January 10, 2007 at a reading site I was visiting regularly. The entry is dated and since it is January it probably represents the beginning of a new year, if not a new year’s resolution.

    The book I reported was Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions.

    I started my own Silver Threads blog in March 2009 and transferred my previous posts into it. Once a month I list all the books completed that month. I try to comment on each but, admittedly, some of the comments are very brief.

    • 17. Corey  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:52 am

      Very nice! And it must be nice to have your comments, however brief, on record. My list features a bunch of books that I vaguely remember reading but have completely forgotten my reaction to, so it would be nice to have even just a sentence of summary.

  • 18. anothercookiecrumbles  |  June 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Pre-blogging, I started keeping a list in Excel (only in 2006)… Then I thought I wanted to pen my thoughts, so I started writing them on Pages/iWeb. Then, I thought I wanted to share my thoughts with other people, and so my blog was born.

    The first book I added to my spreadsheet was an Enid Blyton. Blogging started with Anne Holm’s I Am David.

  • 19. Em  |  June 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I started my list in October 1995 with Le Zèbre by Alexandre Jardin. It’s mostly handwritten, until last year when I started a new one on Word! I only keep the basic info as well.
    I would really love to take the time one day to record all the books I own on Goodreads, but that will wait…


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