I’ve been using Goodreads to track my reading since I started blogging in 2010. I track what I’m currently reading, when I start and when I finish a book, and I have about 30 or so different categories (“shelves”), mostly genre but also things I’m interested in tracking, like authors of color, debut novels, books set outside the U.S., and racial or LGBTQ issues. Goodreads lets me choose whether I’m reading an audiobook or e-book version, which is helpful when I need to look up the name of an audio narrator. Goodreads also has a widget for my blog that shows the books I’m currently reading.
But Goodreads doesn’t let me track any statistics about my reading, at least not the way I want it to, so I started using an Excel spreadsheet to track my reading as well. Excel requires extra effort in data entry, but it’s easier to sort, filter, and manipulate the data. For example, I can filter for my favorite books, then sort by genre, and see how that compares to my reading overall. Excel brings out the data geek in me, plus it’s helpful for me to learn how to build graphs and charts because I use Excel for lots of other things.
Now I’m experimenting with a new program called The Storygraph. It’s similar to Goodreads but with fewer of the community functions, which is okay with me. What it does well is track different categories of data. SG allows you to import your Goodreads library so you don’t have to enter everything you’ve read or plan to read, but I’m not sure I want to take that step. I like that it assigns genres and characteristics automatically, so I don’t have to think about how to classify a book (the downside is that it might not be what I would choose).
And it creates nice graphics on my reading stats. Here’s some of what Storygraph can tell me about my reading in the first three months of the year:
Is all this data meaningful? That’s a good question, and maybe I’ll see where I land at the end of the year. But Storygraph has a few other great features. First, it’s much better than Goodreads or Amazon in making book recommendations. I entered some information about what I like to read and got a list that had some of my favorite books on it, and a lot of books I haven’t heard of. It also specializes in tracking challenges. I can create a challenge using any categories I choose, making those challenges either public or private. Or I can search for existing challenges to join. Finally, Storygraph has a rating system that is much more fine-grained than Goodreads.
A few cons of Storygraph so far: the interface feels clunky to me, and it seems to require too many steps to create reviews or assign books to challenges. Some of this might be my own newness to the site, and some of it might get better over time. Also, SG doesn’t allow me to create my own categories, unless I create a specific challenge for that category.
For now I have three different platforms for tracking my reading (as well as keeping this reading list on my blog). It’s duplicative and means I’m spending time inputting data when I could be reading or writing. I’m going to try out Storygraph longer and see what it can and can’t do, and then I’ll report back.
How do you track what you read, and what types of data to you collect?