For bookworms like me, keeping track of all the books we read can be a challenge. Today, let’s look at the pros and cons of 3 different ways to track your reading. Plus, I’ve got a sneak peek at my newest reading tracker!
Voracious reader. Avid bookworm. Total book nerd. Call us what you will, but across all my book friends I have noticed a common theme: We love to track our reading.
Recently, I’ve been averaging about 20 books per month, which adds up real quick. Keep that pace for several years, if not decades, and suddenly I’m trying to keep track of a whole lot of books. Then when you consider that some books are for book club, some are for my 2019 Reading Challenge, and some are just for fun, it’s easy to start mixing up what I read when.
Over the years, I’ve used a variety of methods to track my reading – with varying degrees of success. Today, let’s take a look at 3 ways to track your reading, and I’ll show you my latest reading tracker!
Did you know I studied mathematics in college? After graduation, my first “real” job was as a data analyst for a large corporation. And any good analyst knows their way around a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets make great reading trackers because they are so customizable. Want a field to track the publisher of every book? Just add a column. Plus, you can sort and filter spreadsheets all day long!
On top of that, one of my favorite aspects of a spreadsheet is privacy. If you happen to have a desire to read every classic ever written, no one else needs to know you have a spreadsheet with more than 500 books on it. It can be your little secret.
Unfortunately, spreadsheets can take a while to set up, and if you aren’t careful, you can accidentally sort all but one column, mixing up your data. Moreover, if you ever crash your hard drive, you could lose everything.
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When I first heard about Goodreads back in 2012, I was hooked immediately. The most popular reading tracker app, Goodreads has completely dominated the market of reading trackers. Seriously, if you haven’t tried out Goodreads, you are clearly missing out. The app isn’t very complex. Everyone has 3 default shelves – Read, Currently Reading, or Want to Read. Each book you add to your account must fall into one of these categories. Which brings us to downfall #1: You can’t easily track re-reads of books.
*Update: Apparently, now you can add multiple reading dates! You can also create a new exclusive shelf for such categories as Books You Didn’t Finish.
To further sort your books, you can create tags. I have tags for adult fiction, young adult, children’s, classics, ARCs, audiobooks. You can file each book under multiple tags and create as many tags as you want.
While you are reading a book, you can even track your progress in the app. (I never do.) When you finish the book, rate the title and write a review for other users to see. Which brings us to downfall #2 – you can’t rate a book 3.5 stars. Honestly, some books are a tad bit above average, but not worthy of 4 stars. This is just one of my little pet peeves.
I absolutely love Goodreads; I use it all the time. However, lately, I’ve had this most likely irrational fear that my account could somehow get accidentally deleted, and I would lose everything. Additionally, I wanted a little more privacy in my reviews. Which brings us to the last of my three ways to track your reading.
Enter the good old-fashioned pen and paper. Partly as a backup to Goodreads and partly as a place to keep my thoughts, I’ve decided to use a reading journal this year. With our 2019 Reading Challenge, I wanted a place to better track my reading choices. Yet, I wanted to go a bit beyond just tracking my reading challenge. As you know, one of the biggest aspects of our blog is our book lists. Writing book descriptions for over a dozen books per list takes time.
To keep myself better organized, I wanted a reading journal where I could record my thoughts on every book I read. That way, when I want to include a book I’ve read into a book list, I already have my description all ready to go. Luckily for me, I found the perfect reading journal.
The Perfect Reading Journal from Purple Trail
If you’ve never heard the name before, Purple Trail is an online stationery company that specializes in letting its customers find their inner designer. With Purple Trail, you don’t need to settle with good enough. All of their products come with a full customization capability, letting you get the exact product you need. While I drooled over their darling cards, planners, recipe books and even book club invitations, I was really in the market for a reading journal. Honestly, I could have spent all day scrolling through all of their beautiful designs. With so many choices, how do you select just one? Eventually, I decided I preferred their standard design for a reading journal – Glasses & Book Custom Journal. Though, of course, I was not going to pass up the opportunity to make it my own.
Here’s the thing about Purple Trail. You can customize almost everything about your product. If you don’t like choices this might not be for you, but I loved playing around with the design of my journal. Personally, although I loved the glasses and book stack design, I wasn’t a fan of the default pinkish color – so I changed it to a cream. Easy as pie.
To get my perfect product, I was determined that my reading journal perfectly would reflect our 2019 Reading Challenge. So, instead of “Romantic Novelty” or “Adventure,” I switched the book titles on the front cover to 500+ pages and Children’s classic to showcase the reading challenge categories. Moreover, I had the choice to change the colors, the fonts, or wholly switch out the design of the front and back cover.
Not only do you get to select the design of the cover, but also you get to decide the type of the cover. To better fit my tiny little hands, I chose a smaller size, 6″ x 8″ instead of the larger 8.5″ x 11″ size. Plus, all the journals are spiral bound, making them so much easier to write in. With my choice of covers (synthetic, laminate or hardcover), I was in heaven tailoring my reading journal perfectly for me. By which I mean, hardcover all the way!
But the customization doesn’t end there. Each journal comes with 176 pages of high-quality writing paper that’s bleed-resistant. Better yet, you get to design the interior pages, too.
Since I will likely read 176 books this year, I decided to keep the front and back of my interior pages the same. However, you have full range to create your journal however you like. With two different reading tracking templates, Purple Trail already has readers in mind for their products.
Never content to settle with a template, I opted to update the interior pages to match my needs. For example, I removed the date started option because it seemed a pointless entry to me. Then, I changed the titles of the boxes to describe my needs. With a little work, I added 5 stars to each page so I could rate each book, even in half stars if I so desired.
If I had wanted to, I could have alternated between the reading tracker, and a simple lined page to take more notes on. Or bullet journal pages. Or any of a dozen other templates. Beyond a reading journal, they have page templates for weekly planners, travel journals, recipe books, lesson plans. If you can imagine it, you can do it.
A Few Last Thoughts
While playing around with the design of my reading journal was fun, it would not have been worth it if the product had less than stellar quality. Happily, I can tell you that my reading journal turned out perfect.
After placing my order, my journal arrived promptly in the mail. I was delighted to open the box and find it so carefully wrapped against damage. That’s one thing I love about smaller companies like Purple Trail; they take such obvious pride in their products.
Soon after my product arrived, I was a bit annoyed that customer service kept pestering with emails. Though for clarification, by pestering I mean that I got maybe 2-3 emails. Finally, it occurred to me that I only felt like they were pestering because my product was flawless … and I hate emails. If there had been an issue, I could have conveniently just replied back and quickly gotten my issues resolved. I guess I’m just not used to excellent customer service.
All in all, I’m delighted with my new reading journal from Purple Trail. It’s made an excellent addition to my blogging supplies, and I’m excited to fill it up with all the books I’ll read this year.
Special thanks to Purple Trail for working with Booklist Queen! Although we were compensated for this article, all opinions are my own.
What ways to track your reading have you found the most useful?