4 ways to track your reading

4 Ways to Track Your Reading

In Expert Tips by Alison Doherty

4 ways to track your reading

Whether you read one book a year or 100, keeping track of the books you read has a lot of benefits. It can help you remember what you’ve read (and what it was about), give you an accurate picture of your reading life, and even motivate you to read more. There are many ways to track your reading online, but these DIY versions allow you to record exactly the information you want. Depending on what you want to get out of the experience, here are four great ways to track your reading. 

1. Create a reading spreadsheet


If you love math and data as much as you love books, creating a personal spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets just makes sense. With a spreadsheet, you’ll have all kinds of flexibility in terms of documenting your reads. While you’ll want to invest a fair amount of time and work on the front end to set the spreadsheet up before you get started, you can always iterate as you go to make sure you’re optimizing the experience. 

A spreadsheet is completely private and you can customize exactly what information to record about each book you read. From page number to publisher names and authors to your own rating system and a quick summary, all you have to do is add a column to capture more data about a book. Once the information is in place you can filter and sort your own lists as much as you want. 

Your reading spreadsheet will help you analyze your own reading habits to see if you want to make any adjustments. The information can also help you become better at choosing which books you will enjoy in the future. You’ll probably be surprised by the insights you get.

2. Make your own digital book log


To create a reading tracker that is more qualitative than quantitative, you can make your own digital book log. Whenever you finish a book, take a screenshot of the cover and write a few sentences about the book in your own words. We like a presentation format like a PowerPoint or Google Slides for a log. Soon you’ll have a visual collection of all the books you’ve read, along with your thoughts about each one. You can even print out your book log at the end of the year to commemorate your progress. Like the reading spreadsheet, this method keeps your reading information completely private, unless you want to share it, of course. 

3. Track your reading in a physical notebook 


For those who might want to go retro or who appreciate nice pens and paper, a physical (analog) book journal is an excellent reading tracking method. There are lots of journals made specifically for people to keep track of the books they’ve read, but you can also get a plain notebook and design your own. This could be as simple as writing down the title of the book, the author, and the date completed. Or you could write a short review about each book you read to preserve your initial thoughts and feelings. You could also draw a memory from the book. Another idea is to create a quote book where you record at least one quote from every book you read. The possibilities are endless. In terms of the cover, having it reflect your personality could be its own project. Get creative with stickers, markers, fabric, or whatever comes to mind.

4. Bullet journal about books


List lovers might gravitate towards tracking their reading using the bullet journal method. This style mixes organization, aesthetics, and recording information all into one place. Bullet journaling first became popular in 2013 and has since grown a devoted fan base. Bullet journals are a quick and effective way to track your reading. 

One bullet technique would be to create a list of books you want to read, then check them off as you complete them. Another would be to create a list of goals for your yearly reading, such as reading a book of poetry or a book with a certain color in the title. If you like to draw, you can also make a grid of rectangles and fill them with drawings of the covers of the book you just read. Or you can simply list the books you read as you finish them. The possibilities are endless — and the internet is full of cute ideas for tracking your reading this way. This method is not the best for tracking lots of information about the books you read, but if you want to get crafty or have a fast way to record what you’ve read, it is highly effective.

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About the Author: Alison Doherty

Alison is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on her way to work, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.