I have been using the reading tracking app GoodReads since 2011. For an avid reader like myself, I really need it to track my reading. Without it, I would waste time re-reading books I forgot that I read. Plus, anytime I hear about a good book I add it to my GoodReads list to avoid forgetting the name. I don’t know about you, but when I get to a bookstore I’m like a deer in the headlights. Without having a list, I just wander aimlessly picking up anything that looks good. Once I am driving away, I finally remember the actual book I went in for. LOL. Anywho…I was browsing Facebook this morning and found an article from LitReactor called “5 Reasons To Track Your Reading”. I thought it was fantastic and explained exactly why I like having an active book tracking list at all times. I am actually a little OCD about updating my “Percentage Read” status every time I pick up the current book I am reading. One thing I wish GoodReads had (or maybe it does and I don’t know it?) is a way to track the hour you are on when listening to an audiobook. I think that would be helpful. Currently, I have to figure out the percentage I have read on my own in order to update that books status.
Here are five reasons to keep close track of your reading habits:
1. Become more aware of what you tend to read the most.
When I first started keeping a list of the books I read, it felt superfluous. Why take time to keep an eye on what I read? That’s time better spent choosing my next book! Soon after I started, though, I noticed a troubling trend: I was reading mostly literary fiction, and a huge chunk of the authors were dead white males. My “random” book picks were embarrassingly unvaried, and what I was reading did not match up with the kind of reader I wanted to be. Once I noticed, I consciously sought out different genres and authors, and I’m so glad I did. My number one surprising discovery? I love poetry, and I would never have known if I didn’t make the choice to be hyper aware of what I was reading. Regardless of your level of reading obsession, I believe it’s a great idea to keep a record of what you read.
2. Set reading goals and track your progress long term.
At the beginning of each year, I like to challenge myself to read a certain number of books. Setting a goal like this means you’ll automatically have to keep track of the books you read. Even if you aren’t setting a reading goal, it’s interesting to see how your reading habits change from year to year. When I lived in Brooklyn and worked at a bookstore, I read 80 books one year. When I moved to Los Angeles and changed jobs, that number was cut in half and I haven’t been able to get anywhere near my Brooklyn reading number since. The reasons? I know one of them has to be driving. It was so easy to tear through books when I was taking public transportation to get everywhere. Because I’ve noticed this drop, however, I prioritize ‘reading time’ much more than I did in the past since I no longer get this time organically.
3. Remember your favorites and go back to them later. I’m on an unreasonable and impossible mission to read every book in existence, so it’s not often I’m compelled to reread a book. Still, there are rare occasions that a story moves me so much I make a note to come back to it in a few years, from a new life place. A physical note will always be more reliable than a mental note. It’s a sure thing. I mourn the long forgotten books I read before I started keeping tabs on my reading habits…my awful memory fails me.
4. It’s a great way to connect with other readers.
There are wonderful apps and sites that make keeping a record of what you read exciting and interactive. My two favorites are GoodReads and Litsy (the tagline for Litsy is “Where books make friends”). You can read up on what other users have said about a book before, during, and after you’ve read it, share photos of your latest book buys, and, as I mentioned earlier, share your reading goals and celebrate when you reach (and even surpass) them. I have discovered a few of my favorite books by either browsing through my friends lists, or being recommended a book directly.
5. Go back to what you stopped reading.
We’ve all started a book that we wanted to connect with but for whatever reason couldn’t. I never dismiss the possibility that I picked up a book at the wrong time, and that I should come back to it later. If you keep track of not only the books you read in full, but the ones you only read partially, you can check back in with them years later and give them another go. This is better than casting a book off entirely, or pushing yourself to finish one when you’re not keen on the experience. Move on to a new title without guilt knowing you’ve made a note to revisit it in the future.
What do you think? Are you on GoodReads or another book tracking site? How do you feel it helps you in your reading life? Let me know in the comments1