Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Keeping Track of My Reading

I recently listened to an episode of the What Should I Read Next? podcast where Anne Bogel, aka Modern Mrs. Darcy, talked to guests about how they track their reading, and I decided to write a post about how I track mine.

Every time I finish a book, I write it down in a TextEdit file. When I have a little collection of them, I write a Reading Update post here on my blog. I also save these posts on my computer so that I can access them even when I don't have an internet connection. 

I wrote a few posts in 2006 about the books I was reading, but 2007 was the first year when I kept a complete list on my blog of everything I read. That means that for the last thirteen years, I know every book I finished (984 books). Before that, I used to keep track sporadically, mostly when a teacher required it, and I have some paper lists from adulthood. But the blog is the perfect place for a record. Usually I write a little review of each book, though there have been times when I have just written a list. As in most of the aspects of blogging, I am the biggest beneficiary of this. I like being able to look back on my reviews to remember what I was reading at particular times, what I've read by a specific author, and what I thought about something the first time compared with my opinion when I reread it. It's also interesting to see which years were high-volume reading years and which ones weren't. I often have people tell me that they like to be able to look at my reviews, too, and that they head to my blog when they want some ideas on what they should read.

At around the same time as I started blogging about my reading, I started an Amazon Wishlist that functions as a kind of To Be Read (TBR) list. It's actually more a list of everything I hear about and don't want to forget, rather than a plan of what I'm going to read. There are some books that have been there since the beginning, but there were many others that I read and deleted. When I'm placing holds on library books, I often check my Amazon Wishlist to get ideas. I also use it when someone gives me a gift card.

Did you know that Amazon keeps track of page views when you read on a Kindle? I found that out because a friend started publishing her books there, and that's how she gets paid, based on which pages the readers access. I spent a few minutes contemplating the fact that Amazon keeps track of what I want to read in the future, what books I buy for myself and others, and what and when I read on my Kindle and wondering what this means for privacy, and then I laughed at myself when I realized that I also blog detailed thoughts on what I read, and certainly I wouldn't do that if keeping my reading private was a huge concern. But it is interesting to speculate on what could be done with all that data about people's preoccupations and thoughts. Someone should write a novel about that.

What did I read before I started this system? I have only the vaguest idea. I wish I had complete lists of all my reading through my life. I encourage students to keep such lists, though most don't really get on board. Nothing brings back a period in my life more vividly than looking at a list of the books I was reading.

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