Monday, January 10, 2011


I mentioned in my post last week that I track what I read.  Resorting to my office manager background, I created an Excel spreadsheet. 

Now, this spreadsheet started out innocently enough.  I just wanted a way to keep track of the books I already had so I wouldn't buy duplicates.  But then I got active online and book recommendations were all over the place and I had little scraps of paper all over the place.  What's a spreadsheet junkie to do?

I fine tuned my original list of books, turning it into my READ LIST.
  • AUTHOR (last name, first name format cause I'm anal that way)
  • TITLE (I include the series name if there is one)
  • NUMBER IN SERIES (because I detest reading a series out of order)
  • FORMAT (H = hardcover, P = paperback, TP = trade paperback, E = e-book, L = library book)
  • A column for the HERO and another for the HEROINE (can't remember why I did this originally but I've kept it up)
  • DATE READ (of course, this was a guess for a lot of the books initially)
  • NOTES (what I liked or not, if it was a beta read, etc.)
And while I was fine tuning this list I was able to cull the non-keepers from my shelves, joining PaperBackSwap in the process.  Love this site.  I'm able to mail out the books I'll never read again in return for books I'm interested in.

Then, I worked on all those scraps of paper with all those recommendations and created my TO FIND LIST.  (And I do print this out, at least in part, before I ever hit a brick-n-mortar store!)
  • NOTES (for things like release dates, who recommended it, etc.) 
But then it morphed, or I got really anal, to include my active TBR LIST.  (In my defense, this was about the time I started reading e-books.)
It is a simple process to copy/cut and paste along the different sheets within my Excel book, titled oh so originally as BOOK LIST. I just copy and paste from the TO FIND page to the TBR page to the READ page. :shrug: It keeps me sane, I don't buy a book I read from the library (unless it falls under keeper status), I don't buy extras (unless I'm buying for gifts) -- both of which save me time and money -- and I can sort the sheets any way I need.

Since I started tracking I've revamped this baby.

The READ sheet now has the additional columns of:
  • NUMBER OF PAGES IF LESS THAN 300 (I inhale books at a rate of about 100 pages per reading session with this as my average book length.  That's not to say that a shorter work isn't as good but when I'm looking back over the year it helps me gage how much I read better.)
  • KEEPER? (a simple 'Y' in the column for the ones I want to keep or want to buy if a library book)
  • GENRE (this is new for 2011 previously I used the NOTE column for this)
The READ sheet has morphed the most.  I now have a sheet for each year (2009, 2010, 2011) in addition to the original sheet I created before I started tracking.

The TBR sheet now has the additional columns of:
  • NUMBER OF PAGES IF LESS THAN 300 (though I rarely fill this out before I've read the book)
I include all books I need to read on this list whether print, e-book, or library.  (For library books I list the date I need to return it in the NOTE column so it doesn't fall through a crack, so to speak.)

The TO FIND sheet has the additional column of:
  • GENRE (because I'm wanting to make sure I'm reading broadly)
For anyone who is interested, I created a copy of this in Google Docs that you can download into your Excel program or even keep online if you use multiple computers -- Book List

I know there are many ways to keep on top of your reading.  I'm curious, what works for you?


Maria Zannini said...

Oh my gosh!

Reading is so subjective for me. I go with the flow--what I feel like that day. Do I feel historical or futuristic? Do I want something gritty or just plain dirty.

Though I suppose I'd get more reading done if I did it your way. That's awesome!

Sherri said...

I'm an emotional reader too Maria. :grin: Just because my TBR list is alpha by author doesn't mean I've working my way through it that way! And I did say I was a spreadsheet junkie, LOL

Liz Fichera said...

I am not worthy! You've just singlehandedly raised the bar on organization!! Go, you!

Sherri said...

LOL, I don't know about that Liz.