Why I Keep Track of What I Read

Since forever, people have been commenting on how much I read. People used to ask me how many books I read, and before I kept track, I had no idea. I used to say, “I dunno… like 5 a month?”

After being asked that question for maybe the millionth time, I had the “brilliant” inspiration to actually keep track. (I’m slow sometimes. I own it.)

In 2013, I started keeping a list of books I read. Over time, what I keep track of has evolved somewhat. These days, I have a list on Numbers and also track via Goodreads. On my personal list, I record title, author, number of pages, date started, date finished, genre, comments, and year published. As a book nerd, it’s fun to look at all that information.

In 2013, I only finished 72 books (my lowest number since I’ve been tracking) and 30% of them were re-reads. In 2017, I finished 132 books (almost double my 2013 number!) and 20% of them were re-reads. Interestingly, my re-read number has seemed to be steady at about 30 per year.

The number of books I’ve read has steadily increased since that first year I started tracking them. I’m not sure if it’s a result of the tracking somehow, being more mindful of what I read, or just a coincidence, but it’s interesting.

Why I keep track of what I read

  1. So that I could answer the question, “How many books do you read?” This really was the question that started it all.
  2. So that I can keep track of series I’ve read. There’s nothing more frustrating than starting a series, enjoying it, but having the next book not come out for a year or more. In the past, I’ve forgotten the title and author, and since I didn’t keep track of books, had to do a Google search. While I eventually found them, I decided I didn’t like leaving such an important issue up to fate.
  3. So I can remember what I read. Though I usually remember what I read, it has occasionally happened that I’ve forgotten that I’ve read a particular book, usually because it’s somewhat forgettable. Keeping track of what I read lets me jot notes on a book as to whether or not I liked it and why.
  4. Because I like lists. Really, I love lists and numbers. It’s fun to say, “I read this many pages last year” or “80% of my reading last year were books I’ve never read.”
  5. It’s a good way to keep track of what books were recommended by other people. I probably wouldn’t remember this on my own, but it’s helpful to remember who recommended what, and where our book tastes overlap.

Do you keep track of your reading? What method do you use?

4 comments on “Why I Keep Track of What I Read

  1. That’s an awful lot of work. I’m very impressed.

    I’m also impressed by the amount of reading you do. It reminds me of people who say they smoke three or four packs of cigarettes per day. I always wonder how they find the time! Same with you. How do you manage it?

    • doreeweller says:

      Well, nothing’s work if you enjoy it, and I do. I love to read, so finding time isn’t hard. I sit and read, but I also read when I’m stirring things on the stove, while I’m eating (if I’m alone, of course), in the line at the grocery store. I read EVERYWHERE.

  2. scr4pl80 says:

    I have started to keep track since 2015 when I did the first PopSugar challenge. That year I just wrote the name of the book next to the category I used it for. In 2016 I started using a small binder that has sections for the current challenge categories, past challenge categories, my TBR list, list of books I gave up on (empty so far) and a log of the books I’ve read with the name of the book, the author, date published, date I started/finished, what category I used it for. I’m thinking to expand a bit because I’ve been finding that there are some books that I highlight sections/quotes, etc that I like and then I forget them when I put it back on the shelf so I may add another section to keep track of that stuff. I also used the Goodreads log in the PopSugar challenge last year but I am not this year.

    • doreeweller says:

      That’s a really cool idea, the binder with various categories. I’ve been thinking that I’d like to find a way to organize my reading in general, across years.

      Last year I started keeping a book journal, where I copy quotes, reflect on what I read. I’m still setting into how I do it, but I like having a central location to keep track of quotes and concepts that resonated with me.

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