How and Why I track my reading

Tracking what I read has been an important part of my reading journey and gives me immense joy. Just as I look forward to my Spotify yearly wrap up (my most played artist of 2020 was Howard Shore and my most played song Outro by M83, for those of you that are curious πŸ˜‚), I love being able to see a full wrap up for what I’ve read at the end of each month and year.

When I first started reading again, I was opposed to tracking my reading because I didn’t want to fixate on the quantity I was reading and lose sight of the reason I was reading in the first place. However, I’ve found tracking my reading to be very beneficial, particularly as a new reader, in identifying the right books for me and diversifying my reading which is an important aspect of the books I choose to read.

How I track my reading

In addition to using Goodreads to track the basics of what I read each month, the main way I track my reading is with a Google spreadsheet (template provided by my dear friend, Lizzie – thanks, Lizzie! ❀) which looks like this:

On this spreadsheet I track:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Series
  • Author gender
  • POC author
  • Genre
  • Sub-genre
  • Audience
  • Tags
  • Rating
  • Format
  • Source
  • Pages
  • Publication Year
  • Month Read

I then have a stats page with graphs and charts to provide a more comprehensive and accessible break-down of my reading based on the above:

I also have tabs for my TBR, a series tracker and academic readings for university.

This spreadsheet is comprehensive and fulfils all of my reading needs. I’m constantly adding to it and editing it as I go along, but have found it to be the neatest and most effective way of tracking what I read.

Why I track my reading

The reason I track my reading is because it’s useful in a variety of ways. It helps me to see how diversely I’m reading and general trends in what I’m reading. This has enabled me to be more intentional with my reading, identify my favourite genres and make more informed decisions about what to add to my TBR. For example, in 2020 my highest rated genres were fantasy and classics, my most-read sub-genres were LGBTQ+ and romance and my preferred format was e-books. Knowing this helped me to choose the best books to read in 2021. The result is that so far every book I’ve read in January and February has been either a 4 or 5 star read in comparison to this time last year when I had mostly 3 star ratings and a couple of 2 star ratings. I have also read more books from diverse authors in comparison to the start of 2020 when all of the books I read were by white cis women. Without my tracking spreadsheet, it’s likely I wouldn’t be choosing books that I enjoy so much and I wouldn’t be getting the enriching experience I am due to the diverse range of voices and experiences that I’m reading about.

Pros and Cons of a reading spreadsheet

Pros

  • Identify trends in your reading to better select future reads
  • Diversify your reading
  • Have a completely personalised and private record of your reading
  • Flexibility to track the details that you want (unlike online platforms that are limited)
  • An all-in-one space to track everything, instead of having various bits of information divided across platforms
  • Adding new data after reading a book is satisfying (if you’re as insanely organised as I am πŸ˜‚)
  • There’s lots of templates online to use as a starting point

Cons

  • Can be difficult to create and set-up
  • High level of customisation can be complicated, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with spreadsheets
  • Other platforms or methods of tracking are more simplistic and clean
  • Can lead to a fixation on statistics and detract from reading experience

Overall, I love tracking my reading and the pros more than outweigh the cons. Getting back into reading would’ve been much more challenging without my reading spreadsheet to keep me on track and help me to get to know myself as a reader.

Do you track your reading? If so, how do you do it and why? Share in the comments.

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.


4 thoughts on “How and Why I track my reading

    1. I used to be exactly the same! Eventually I got tired of trying to cross reference everything and now I strictly use my spreadsheet and Goodreads, and have found it much easier having everything in one place. Particularly because everything that the other platforms I was using offer can be added to a spreadsheet, albeit sometimes with a lot of time and effort haha.

      Liked by 1 person

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