tracking reading

2017: A Spreadsheet Story? Tell Me All Your Thoughts on Tracking Reading!

A Spreadsheet Story

So, I said this:

Actually, tracking my reading has become a little more complicated since adding library books into the mix. Because I use LibraryThing only for “owned” books and ARCs, the count there does not include books borrowed from the public library and reviewed on the blog. This book-blogging accountant may finally have to take the plunge into spreadsheets (shudder).

And in reply, Michelle said this:

How do you not use spreadsheets to track your reading? Now that I have been using one for many years now, I could never NOT track my reading that way. Plus, it gives me all my stats right there without having to dig for them in LT or anywhere else online. I think 2017 should be the year you explore this fantastic avenue of tracking! 😉

Tracking Reading…All in One Place

I spend a lot of my time at work as a spreadsheet jockey. I’ve resisted using a spreadsheet to track my reading stats because I’m afraid it would literally feel too much like work. It may be work I need to take on anyway.

As I mentioned in my year-end reading recap, I really like the variety of review indexes that the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin [affiliate link] can produce. Some of what I’d like to track is captured that way, but not in an ideal format. The indexes are all separate from one another, for one thing; the Sortable Index combines a few options, but not all. They also can’t be exported into a setting where I’d be able to manipulate them (something like, oh, a spreadsheet).

LibraryThing has been a decent tracker surrogate for me in the past, but since I primarly use it for cataloging it doesn’t include my library books. (Yes, I know it’s “LibraryThing.” I see the irony.) It’ll still work as a simple method to track what I’ve read from my own shelves in a given year, but it’s not a complete record anymore.

I did make a stab at a reading spreadsheet a couple of years ago, with a variation on Kerry‘s reading tracker, but I didn’t stick with it. In truth, that was probably mostly because 2015 was a messy year, but I’m also not entirely sure I’d want to use the same format if I gave spreadsheets another go.

Are You a (Reading) Tracker? I Have Questions for You!

If you use a reading spreadsheet, would you mind telling me what book info you track? I’m looking for ideas, suggestions, and advice!

Here are some of the things I think I would include in my spreadsheet.

  • Title
  • Author
  • Format
  • Source
  • Date(s) read, or just completion date
  • Genres (fiction/nonfiction and primary category within division)

These are some items I could track, but I’m not sure if I will:

  • Page count/audiobook length (hours)
  • Publisher
  • Setting
  • Author demographics
  • LT rating
  • Review info (not necessary, since if I finish the book I’ll write something about it)
  • ISBN (since the tracker will not be a review index, I probably would not include this)

I realize that a lot of this is based on personal preference and individual reading interests. but I’m really curious. Do you think I’m leaving out something I should pay attention to? Are there things you’ve found really aren’t worth tracking?

And if you use formulas to calculate stats from your spreadsheets, how do you make them work?

Tell me all your thoughts on tracking your reading–how do you do it?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,420 other subscribers

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    Yeah, I tried using a spreadsheet to track my reading a few years ago but I didn’t stick with it long.

  • I have a spreadsheet but its purpose is to track books I WANT to read so it just has fields for author & title and then i just put an x in fields indicating whether I already HAVE the book (so I don’t end up with 50 copies) whether it’s one I want to own or am I good with borrowing it from the library, and whether I have read it or DNF. But that’s all I record as far as having read the book. Just an X. I do indicate if a book is part of a series and if it was recommended by someone in particular such as a friend or a celebrity or a favorite author. Every time Nikki sixx of Motley Crue recommends a book it goes on the list so I can sort by him, or by…is it Emma Roberts that’s an avid reader? I can quickly pull up all her recommendations. Stuff like that!

    • I don’t keep any records for books I want to read, but I do use LibraryThing to remind myself if I’ve already bought something. I like your suggestion about tracking where recommendations come from, though, because I’m really bad about remembering that. Thanks for the input!

  • Karen

    I use a spreadsheet to keep track of the books I own but havent yet read (I have a separate spreadsheet for books I’m interested in reading in the future.). i try to keep it simple knowing that the more complex I make it , the less likely I am to maintain it. So I just note
    – author name
    – title of book
    – country of author’s origin
    – category of book (I keep these to a small number so fiction, non fiction, Booker prize, crime, children’s lit, virago, pereine and classic, e reader, netgalley)
    – when acquired (year only)
    – general notes on where I got the book – eg gift, second hand store etc

    Then I have columns for each year
    – read
    – given away unread
    – given away after reading
    – did not finish

    I find this more than enough to keep track of without adding in library books!.

    Hope this helps though really what you track depends on how you like to monitor your progress – for me as an example the number of pages isnt at all important

    • This is really helpful. I especially like how you record what happens to the book–that IS something I would want to track. And keeping it simple is always good advice. Thank you for this!

  • I think that Google doc might be the spreadsheet I tried a couple of years ago :-). I know what you mean about doing well at the beginning and then falling off. I’d probably have to set myself reminders to update the log every time I picked up a book!

  • I use GoodReads for all my reading in a year and that’s good enough for me. I hope you don’t find this to be too much like work

    • GoodReads seems to work well for a lot of people, but for some reason (the lack of half-star ratings, for one thing) I’ve never quite clicked with it.

      • The lack of half stars is obnoxious, but I’ve taken the policy of giving the next full star to give the benefit of the doubt. So, if something is 3.5, on GR I give it a 4.

  • A spreadsheet is a great idea, but I know I would forgot. I just use the list of posts in my blogger and I count at the end of the year 🙂 Not super efficient, I know! Google Spreadsheets can do a lot more than they could a couple years ago so it’s a good (and free) solution if you decide to do a spreadsheet

    • I used to do that too, which is one reason I really appreciate the UBB indexes now that I’m on WordPress :-).

  • Anita LeBeau

    My spread sheet is to track books received and purchased or given to me. I also use it to track when read, when reviewed etc. My headings are, Title, author, date published, date rec, date read, type of book(arc, hardcover, audio etc), publisher ,genre, review date, and how acquired. It works for me, I started it in 2013. My husband is an accountant, CFO so he set it up for me, bless him! I can sort anyway I want. Most of the time it sits in order of publish date.

  • As I mentioned to you earlier, even though I sit in spreadsheet hell day in and day out at work, tracking my books are the only spreadsheets I actually like using!

    I have two spreadsheets – both in Google Docs. One keeps track of the books I have but have not yet read. I separate them into categories by tabs – review copies, ebooks, print books, trade show copies, past due, etc. The information on each tab though is standard – date received, publication date, archive date (for e-galleys), expiration date (for e-galleys), title, author, from where I received it, cost, number of pages, and narrator (for audiobooks).

    My second big spreadsheet tracks the books I have read. I divide the years up by tab and have one summary tab that pulls all of the years together for comparison. On the yearly tab I track title, author, pages, audiobook length, author gender, author POC (Y/N), audiobook (Y/N), YA (Y/N), genre, year published, review copy (Y/N), date received, origin of copy, new to me author (Y/N), and cost. The spreadsheet then calculates percentages for gender, POC, audiobook, YA, new-to-me-author. It also calculates how long I have had the book and how much the books I read cost me. It also tabulates where I receive my books, how many are review copies, and genres read. It is pretty involved but I have been using it since 2011.

    It honestly does not take a long time to update. After I finish a book, one of the last things I do is to go in and add the details of the book I just finished. (I also update my indices on my blog then as well.) It provides a bit of closure and allows me a bit more time before diving into the next one.

    • I knew I could count on you for help with this project, Michelle. Thanks so much! I don’t know that I’ll go with a TBR spreadsheet–for me, that’s “have but not read”–since LibraryThing is working pretty well for me on that subset of my books. I like what you describe for the “read” spreadsheet, though. I have some of that data through 2015, when I was keeping my review index in Google Docs, so I could begin with that. I think I see my next rainy-weekend project…

      • If you want, I can share my own document with you as a starter. I got mine from another blogger, so it only seems fair!

        • Thanks for the offer–I would really appreciate that! (Please send the share link to my fependley AT gmail DOT com address, since my Google Docs are all tied to that one.)