How can I track my reading?
April 6, 2010 2:53 PM   Subscribe

How can I track my reading? Looking for suggestions on a: spreadsheet/program/website...?

I am doing a lot more reading than I used to and am looking for a cool way to keep track of the titles/authors/year/theme and when I read it/brief notes. (Especially because I'm getting asked more to contribute reviews, articles and opnions on books & need to dig out this info quickly.)

I could probably make a spreadsheet, but it wouldn't be very fun. I know of LibraryThing but I don't usually own copies of what I'm devouring... Nor do I really care who has the same weird taste as me. Is there anything else out there I can try?
posted by teststrip to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I track my reading on Goodreads.
posted by anderjen at 2:59 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I use LibraryThing to track my reading, even for books I don't own. You can sort books into "collections" now and specify ones that are "Read but unowned", which is nice for that. I like it because the interface is very customizable as to what information you can show, so I can sort by author, genre, tags, or by the date I finished reading it.
posted by booknerd at 3:00 PM on April 6, 2010

I like Goodreads because you can add notes and track pages read, and on what date.

There is also Readernaut which allows a good notes system and tags. What everyone else on the site is reading is not pushed at you quite as much as Goodreads or LibraryThing. Bonus that the site design is minimal and full of color!
posted by caveat at 3:03 PM on April 6, 2010

More LibraryThing love: they're the only site I found that let me put in multiple reading dates. Tracking how many times I reread something was key for me. I like how easy it was to import from other sources. (I had used AllConsuming, Reader^2 and Xanga in the past.)
posted by ansate at 3:11 PM on April 6, 2010

Best answer: Jessamyn linked to OddBook in Projects.
posted by runningwithscissors at 3:11 PM on April 6, 2010

i like goodreads as others have mentioned above.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:23 PM on April 6, 2010

I like goodreads too. On the plus side, it got me in touch with a group of local book nerds. We get together for dinners out every so often and talk books. It's a bit like a book group where everyone reads a different book.

I used to use a hacked-up version of OddBook, but I ran out of energy to do everything (anything? can't remember) I wanted with it. (That version is also on Google Code, strangely enough.)
posted by epersonae at 4:06 PM on April 6, 2010

I like Noting Books, myself. It used to be Note: Books at Readerville until Readerville ceased operations. I don't really care about the social aspects of Goodreads, personally, and I don't want to fill out book compatibility tests and what-have-you. I just wanted a simple way to keep track of what I'd read and make a few brief notes on the book to remind myself what I thought. I find the interface very clean and intuitive, and it's perfect for maintaining a simple, yet organized, personal record.
posted by tigerbelly at 4:25 PM on April 6, 2010

I've been using a yellow legal pad and ball point pen since 1995. It has outlived numerous hard drive crashes and server failures. (And I keep it where the cats can't pee on it.)
posted by neuron at 4:41 PM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

I have a nice journal in which I track my reading (author, title, date finished) in pen. I also use Visual Bookshelf on Facebook.
posted by pised at 5:32 PM on April 6, 2010

I've created a table in MS Word with 6 columns - 1. date (read), 2. author, 3. title, 4. genre/subject/Dewey Decimal Number, 5. main character, and 6. comment/rating. I copy from my local library catalog or Amazon an image of the cover to help me remember it. I can sort on any of the columns and tweak the format or organization or font size any number of ways. For example, I have title available on in the reference library in blue, music scores in red, etc., etc. Works for me.
posted by feelinggood at 5:48 PM on April 6, 2010

I share my reading list with kids, and use it a lot for readers advisory- for those purposes Shelfari works well for me.
posted by carterk at 6:56 PM on April 6, 2010

I've been using a desktop wiki (treepad) since 2007 as a book log, and it's worked beautifully. Last year, I started doing a movie log, too. The pages are basically like Word files, and you can include whatever information you see fit to preserve (title, author, publication year, dates read, genre/subject, publisher), but I find the best thing about the wiki is that I write a brief (well, sometimes) plot synopsis and my impression after reading (and sometimes I note key passages or quotes that I want to remember so I don't have to consult the book directly). Taking the time to write all this down (in a wiki, a word file, a book journal, or in a regular notebook) eliminates the inevitable realization that you can't remember a thing about anything that you've read or seen. That ability to jog your memory is well worth the ten minutes (or whatever) it takes to write it up!
posted by Mael Oui at 8:05 PM on April 6, 2010

Best answer: Blogging is one way to handle it. You can set up a private blog if you're not into sharing your reflections. Goodreads is handy. I've experimented with that a bit. It wouldn't be at all hard to implement a decent system in Evernote, using tags for, say, "read" and "to read" and the various ratings. You couldn't really query/filter it like a database, but you could still quickly get to your stuff, and it's fairly free form. I've known web-savvy people who use private wikis for this sort of thing. Assuming you have ubiquitous wifi, Google Docs could be the answer.

Of course, if you're into analog, a nice notebook and a decent pen is a tried-and-true method.
posted by wheat at 7:04 AM on April 7, 2010

Another vote for LibraryThing. I use it for everything I've read, not just for books I own. It's not difficult to just ignore the "social" aspects of the site. I don't really use them. And it's convenient to be able to get all the info about the book auto-filled in for you just by entering the ISBN, including subject headings.

Until LibraryThing came along, I'd used Amazon. I rated every single book I read since the late '90s on the site, so I was able to go back and export that info to import into LibraryThing. So, it was just a list of what I'd read, not any additional info like when or how long it took me to read each book.

My $0.02.
posted by INTPLibrarian at 7:48 AM on April 7, 2010

Best answer: I'm a fan of offline solutions for things like this, so I use a combination of MacJournal and Mendaley. One of my journals in MacJournal is devoted to basic lists of books/movies by year, and any notes usually go in the general journal.

For professional items I like Mendaley. It's free, and I think it would work well for what you want. You can add any citation (not just pdfs), the tagging and note-taking functions are good, and its easy to attach any related pdfs.
posted by susanvance at 10:59 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! As usual they're all excellent answers - looking forward to playing around with them all.
posted by teststrip at 3:44 PM on April 8, 2010

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