Why You Need to Keep Better Track of the Books You Read

Every person should keep track of the books and pages they read because of three warm fuzzy feelings that result.

Raise your hand if you have ever lost the journal with your book list in it. I’m talking every book you’ve ever read that you had written down to remember for all time. Not so immortal are you, paper? You can burn, you can wander away, you can get wet. At the end of the day, maybe this digital revolution will provide something that will last and all of the luddites will stop crying about “the smell of old books.” Admit it, you don’t really like the smell of dust and pretending to won’t get us anywhere…

Okay, so let’s move on. We’ve been talking all about how to read more this year and reach all of your fancy book goals (find out more here). The next tip to reading more this year is Record Your Reading Progress. Runners keep track of miles the same way readers need to keep track of books and pages. So are you going to write it all down? On the front end, yes. On the back end, no. Technically you can do both through Goodreads, but I like to keep a running list of the books I want to read offline. It’s a kind of therapy for me to add books and rearrange the order. It’s similar to playing with all of my books and staring at my shelves. I need more friends, don’t I?

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Jessica's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

So back to Goodreads. This is where I keep track of every book I am willing to admit I read. I learned about Goodreads 7 years ago and started recording what I read in a digital format that is far more visually appealing than a word document hidden deep in the belly of my computer. In addition to being inspired to read more (and we’ll unpack that in a second), it came in handy when I was asked to write down the titles of all of the books I had read in the last year and hand it in for a job interview. Admittedly that was rare, although I wish it was a common occurrence for employers to ask their potential and even current employees this.

So how does keeping track of your books inspire you to read more? Well, it’s just like making a to-do list of chores. We feel so rewarded when we cross off each chore. It’s the same with books. Every time you finish a book, add it to your “Read” shelf on Goodreads. Include a few comments for your friends if you’re so inclined. I typically rate each book I read with the star system but don’t review it on that site. I’d rather marinate in the book for a little while and then write about it for the blog. Not only is it rewarding to add the book to your shelf, you can also see what other books are waiting to be devoured.

Keeping track of the books and pages you read will inspire you to read more.

1. You’ll be inspired to read more than you read yesterday.

When I’m in a consistent reading season (I make it sound like a sport, don’t I?), I keep track of the number of pages I read. Remember how my goal is 100 each day? I write down my current page when I pick up the book for the first time that day. This is better than doing it at the end of the night because who knows if I’ll get one more chance to read a few more pages before falling asleep. I’d probably choose not to read if I already wrote down my total for the day. So I find out the total pages I read the day before when I come to each book. I subtract the previous morning’s page number from the current day, and voila! I know how many pages I read the day before. It’s really not that complicated, and it feels good to know I’m being consistent.

2. You’ll be inspired to read more than you read the year before.

When I was in college, my softball coach, Randy, told us we should always be riding each wave of momentum. If we climb the stair master for 10 minutes on Monday, then we should do 11 minutes on Tuesday. So let’s apply to this kind of momentum to reading: if you read 30 books last year, shoot for 35 this year. If the mind is like a muscle, then we should be stronger next year than we were the year before. My book goals decreased because of the size of the beasts books I am looking to wrestle. The pages I read this year will likely dwarf last year even though the actual number of books I want to read is fewer than last few years.

3. You’ll be inspired to read more from your friends on Goodreads.

Connecting with people on Goodreads is like having hundreds of running partners. Dedicated runners will faithfully show up to the trail and log their miles just like dedicated readers will show up to Goodreads and log their books. This inspires all of us. Oh, you finished Infinite Jest and all of those footnotes? That means I can do it too. Reading is not about the competition at all, but the community of readers and the ability to connect with one another and commiserate over a hundred pages of footnotes is remarkable. We need each other when we don’t want to show up. That’s what running partners are for and that’s what reading communities promote. And if deep down competition is one of your motivators, then do what you can to better your own stats and beat your friends. I’ve always been more competitive with myself than anyone else, but you gotta roll with what works for you. Personally, whatever motivates you to read and read more is a good thing!

8 thoughts on “Why You Need to Keep Better Track of the Books You Read”

  1. I’ve found that since actively using goodreads again in the last year/18 months I’ve become quite a competitive reader! Like, I feel that I challenge myself more because of the people who are friends with me are reading something and I really want to read it too. I’ve especially refound my love of classics because of Goodreads!

    As well as goodreads I do an annual spreadsheet and I take part in a reading ‘challenge’ with friends which has me quite active too (and actually got me in to page counting and the like!). I can’t stand writing in a journal/by hand because everything is then out of alphabetical order – sure it’s chronologically correct but it just frustrates me!

    Also, I’ve added you on goodreads 🙂

  2. It’s strange, isn’t it? There is a sense of competition and even more than that encouragement that comes with following what other people read. It’s neat to know we have similar tendencies. Thanks for connecting! I added you back 🙂

  3. I use Goodreads every day. I think there could be a ton of improvements to the site, especially its navigation, but I love the tool of it. If I couldn’t keep track of “want to read” there I would have no idea what to read next. As it is, I have a To Read list at nearly 600 and choose my next book by getting a friend to give me a page number, then a list number and just requesting that from the library. A surprise every time!

  4. Thank you! Books are such good friends. They can entertain, enlighten and comfort. Always happy to meet a fellow reader, especially one who writes as eloquently as you. Keep up the good work!

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