Marcia Strykowski

Log Your Books!

ralph waldo emerson round“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.— In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight.”      —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you read a lot? Have you ever walked into a library or bookstore and checked-out or purchased a title only to arrive home and realize you’ve already read it before? Believe me, you’re not alone. I see it often at my library. But things are changing. Many readers now keep track of their books.

I use Goodreads. Another one to try is Shelfari. Shelfari can be visually pleasing, but sometimes the graphics are slow to load and the email ads too frequent. LibraryThing is another popular venue, although many prefer to use this just to list those books they actually own, rather than for books they’ve borrowed or would like to read at a future date. LibraryThing might be the best choice for those who collect old and rare books, since their cataloging reaches farther. Keep in mind, unlike the first two sites, after your first 200 books are recorded, LibraryThing charges a fee ($10 per year, or $25 for life). There are also a variety of phone apps that work well for some people, such as Reader Tracker.

There’ll always be a few naysayers for any online program, but since I feel Goodreads (ages 13 & up) is the most user-friendly (along with 30 million other readers), I’ll show you the steps below—follow the big blue arrows. 🙂

It’s very easy to sign up for Goodreads, just put in your name (or a nickname if you’d like to remain private), add in your email (this will also be kept private), and lastly make up a password.

goodreads2To start your book list, type in a title (see below). The books show up immediately and you click on them to choose. It only takes a few minutes to build up your list. Later, if you decide to get more involved, you can enter giveaways for free books, check lists for recommendations, and maybe even find a new friend or two in the discussion threads. All of these optional adventures can be found under the Explore tab.

goodreads1The next picture shows how the screen looks after you select a title. When you click the Want to Read tab there are two other choices as well: Read, or Currently Reading. It’s up to you if you want to add ratings or reviews to help you remember what you thought of the book. I find this useful in recommending books to others. All I have to do is glance at my list to jog my memory, no more saying: “Oh, I read this great book last year. I think it was about a boy in Italy, no France, and it had a greenish-blue cover.” Goodreads keeps me organized. Click here to join.

goodreads3I’d love to hear how you track your reading!

34 Comments

  1. An interesting and enlightening post. Thanks, Marcia. I’m not all that good at technology, but do use Goodreads. I have a list of books i want to read/have read on there, but still tend to trust my memory when at the library or in a book shop! I bought two new books yesterday – no, I haven’t read them before!

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    • Thanks, Julie, sounds like you’re doing well keeping track of your books!

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  2. Louise

    Being old, I’ve had a few years to record books! One of my high school English teachers (back in the 50’s) suggested we keep a log of books read, recording title, author, and a sentence or two about the book. It was such fun to do that I’ve kept doing it all these years! It really helped when I was a teacher and later when I was a librarian and someone asked me for a recommendation of something to read. I would remember that 10 or 12 (or 20 or …) years ago I’d read something about whatever subject the person was asking about, and I could go back to my list and find the title. It would be easier to do on a computer, I’m sure, but, computer or notebook, I do like the idea of keeping one’s OWN list, not going on a commercial site.

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    • Wow, Louise, that must be quite a list! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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  3. Joyce Ray

    Really good information,Marcia. I like Goodreads, too. I expect i don’t take advantage of its full potential. Thanks for including a Goodreads screen shot with Feathers & Trumpets!

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  4. I’m in awe, Louise! I wish I’d kept a list of books like that. Thanks for the post, Marcia. I joined Goodreads, but often forget to keep track of what I’m reading. This is a nice simple explanation for those who aren’t sure how to get started.

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    • I agree, it would be great to have a list of books read since high school. Thanks for your comment, Laurie!

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  5. Bobbi Miller

    What an informative article! Thank you! I find that I am more active on Goodreads than I am on LibraryThing. I rarely go to Librarything anymore. Your article gives some insight into why that is!

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    • Thank you, Bobbi! I tried LibraryThing briefly, it seemed more limited.

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  6. I use goodreads, but I also keep a list in a regular notebook by year. I like having notes on paper!

    Yvonne

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    • I like paper, too, but I’m trying to cut back. And I love how Goodreads brings up so much extra information (cover, page count, etc.) and also stores my short reviews.Thanks, Yvonne!

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  7. Ashley

    You’ve convinced me to try Goodreads! If I figure it all out I’ll be able to keep track of my favorite authors!

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  8. I feel like everyone uses Goodreads except me 🙂 Maybe I should give it a try. I just keep a list in my Google Docs; my library also keeps a list of the books I check out, view-able in my online account.

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    • Interesting, Mei-Mei. At my library we’ve stopped keeping patron history due to privacy issues. We can only see what’s checked out at the moment. Goodreads makes it easy to do as little or as much as you want with the options. Thanks for joining in!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, Yes and Yes! I hate the way publishers change (update) the covers on some popular books. I always feel it’s a bit of a trick aimed at catching out the unwary buyer.
    I signed up to Goodreads some time ago but have never got around to using it, mostly because I didn’t know how – but I do now, thanks to you.
    I catalogue the books I sell on a programme called Homebase but have never recorded the books I’ve read, but I must get organised this year.
    I’ve tweeted this very helpful post, thanks Marcia.

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    • Hi Barbara, hope you’ll give Goodreads another try and thanks so much for the tweet!

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  10. Bette Norton

    Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing this info with us!

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  11. mirkabreen

    I must be missing something, because it never occurred to me to track the books I read. It may help that I’m a slow reader, but I am always reading.
    I think it is a newish phenomenon to have these lists. I can imagine it is very helpful. I just wonder if we really want to have such on what is ultimately a public site. I can honestly say that I don’t read anything I would be embarrassed to admit reading, but is this so for everybody? Do people have two lists- the public and the private? This is a new age, indeed.

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    • I don’t think I ever kept track of my reading until I was in a book club. We chose books I wouldn’t normally have read and it took time to prepare for each meeting. Because of the extra effort, I didn’t want to forget which books I read or what I thought of them. On Goodreads, I look up books and maybe check what others say about them, but I can’t say I’ve ever gone through anyone’s list to see what they read. And it’s easy enough to leave off books you don’t want to publicly admit to reading. Many on my own list are ones I got from other authors, and otherwise maybe wouldn’t have known about or chosen. Thanks for your thoughts, Mirka.

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  12. Very helpful post! I use Goodreads, but I often slack updating it. I need to be better. This was a good reminder! Thanks for sharing it. I have yet to try Shelfari- but have been curious about it. 🙂

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    • Same here, I don’t always remember to update, and I’m sure I miss a few books, but it’s all in fun. Thanks, Jess!

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  13. I love Goodreads mainly because I don’t need to feel like an author there (like I feel I have to do a bit more social marketing/mingling on Twitter or FB or others). I am a reader on GR, and I really enjoy looking at what my friends are reading. I try to leave brief reviews for the books I like, too.

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    • Exactly, there isn’t pressure to always have to keep up or do more on Goodreads. Happy to connect with you on there, Claudine!

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  14. I had a fancy app on my phone that let me track books and scan barcodes and things, but every time I got a new phone, my entire book list would be lost and I’d have to start all over! When I realized Goodreads has an app that does all the things my old app did, I started using it instead. It’s nice to know that all those books are safe even if my phone decides to die again. 😉

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    • Hi Anna! Thanks for sharing this drawback of phone apps, good to know. I’m glad Goodreads solved the problem for you.

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  15. I do use Goodreads, but I’m not particularly consistent about logging books I’ve read – although if I really LOVE a book, I usually seem to enter it. In terms of GR reviews, I was thinking about this today in terms of the GR population. I feel like it’s mainly adults, or at least most of the people who’ve ranked/reviewed my books seem to be. So I wonder about the value of GR to an author who writes for kids. I’d love to get more input from my intended audience:)

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    • Yes, there’s nothing more exciting than getting a review from an actual kid! There are a lot of teachers, librarians, and parents on Goodreads, and I think their reviews of books for children are extremely valuable, as well, since they often have a close connection to kids. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

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  16. I use Goodreads (really like that site), and have heard of Shelfari, but not the other ones. I like how Goodreads has author website links, and latest blog posts, if they’re linked. And, of course, all the books. =)

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    • It is good how all the links and extras are easily available. Thanks for your comment, Leandra!

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  17. I use Goodreads too 🙂

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