You’re reading a book. You’re enjoying the book. Something about it feels natural, comfortable, even a little familiar. Then, about three chapters in, you have a light-bulb moment…the reason the book feels so familiar is because you have already read it! BAM! Cue the violins. Valuable reading time has just been wasted away. To me, bibliodejavu is annoying, frustrating, and totally unnecessary. With so many brilliantly written books out there, the last thing I ever want to do is read the same one twice. Unless it’s Anne of Green Gables of course.
Today I’m going to share some of my favourite book-tracking tools with you. I’m looking at each of these tools from a tracking perspective only – not for what they have to offer in terms of *bonus* content (reviews, ratings, groups, print/share/social features, etc.). The bonus features are cool though, and are definitely worth checking out.
Bibliocommons: If you borrow the bulk of your reading materials from the library, than this one is a good fit. To the right of every title in our library catalogue you’ll see a purple plus sign with Add to My Shelves. Click on that, choose the appropriate shelf, and you’re done. You can do this straight from your active checkouts, so you don’t have to search for books one by one. This is great for when it’s hard to remember author spelling and/or exact titles. One thing to note is that by default your shelves are publicly visible. You can switch a whole shelf OR selected items on your shelf to Private under My WPL > My Settings > Privacy. Click here for more information on Bibliocommons shelves.
Goodreads: Goodreads is probably one of the most popular reading/book tracking tools out there. It’s easy to use, thorough, customizable, and can quickly spit out stats on your reading behaviours (books read, pages read – I personally like the books read by publication year graph). You can use delivered bookshelf names or create your own, and reading recommendations based on your reading history are pretty spot-on. Goodreads is a great tool if you’re looking to track your reading, read reviews, join groups, take quizzes, etc. – in other words, it’s very social. If you decide to make Goodreads your go-to tool, be sure to check out the WPL Online Book Club!
LibraryThing: This is probably the best solution for somebody who wishes to track their reading history AND their personal library. It contains so much information. You can sort your lists by traditional facets like title and author, but you can also choose Series or Dewey decimal classification. It has a built in tool to track who you lend your books to, and you can create custom item records for each book you enter. Hint: If you love cataloguing, this can deliver hours of fun – if not, the pre-populated records are pretty good. LibraryThing makes it very easy to import and export lists you have already made from other sources (Goodreads, Amazon, Excel), so you don’t have to start from scratch. If you’re thinking about trying LibraryThing, be sure to have a look at this introduction: https://www.librarything.com/quickstart.php
Speadsheet: Tracking your reading through a spreadsheet program like Excel or Google Sheets is probably the most labour intensive solution on my list of tools, but it’s really not that bad. If you are only interested in tracking titles and have no use for the bonus content, then this system is probably your best bet. One nice thing about spreadsheets is that they are completely private; if you have a spreadsheet program on your computer like Excel or Numbers, then you can take care of all of your tracking OFFline. No need to worry about your reading list being leaked! If spreadsheet is the way you’d like to go, check out this template that the good people at BookRiot have put together to help you get started.
Apps: Of course there are several Apps that can be used to track your reading history…there’s an App for everything, right? Bibliocommons and Goodreads both have free Apps containing the features that I have described above; I have been completely content with those, so have not tried any of the other Apps available (but there are many).
Notebook: Perhaps the most archaic of the solutions I am reviewing, but it has worked well for many people, for many years, and will continue to be a reliable solution for years to come. Grab a pen, grab a notebook, and voila – you’re set.
These are just a few of the many, many, many reading tracking tools out there. We’d love to know: What’s Your System? How do you track your reading? Do you use any of these tools? Are there other hidden gems out there that you would like to share with us?