The Reading Life

I started a “want to read” list on Goodreads & now I’m scared

I promised myself I wouldn’t do it: I promised myself I wouldn’t overwhelm myself by curating a “want to read” list on Goodreads. And now I’ve gone and done it.

Admission: I didn’t use Goodreads much ever before this year. I had an account, but it was like…

via GIPHY

If I did visit Goodreads, it was to look up a book or quote, not to track the books I read. For that, I had an Excel spreadsheet. Which was fun, for a while. It allowed me to create tables, charts, and pies of random information related to my reading. The pie charts were my favorite. Who can argue with pie?

via GIPHY – This hamster eating a tiny pie has nothing whatsoever to do with my reading life. It’s just too cute not to share. Squeee!

What changed is, I got bored of my Excel spreadsheets. After a few years, it began to feel sort of coldly efficient, like I was tracking sales figures or medical symptoms. I keep a reading journal, but it’s not the most helpful for at-a-glance information. Sometimes, I want to know what my most read genre was in a given year or how to spell the name of an author whose book I read months ago.

To summarize: I was looking for a new way to track my reading.

I promised myself I wouldn’t do it: I promised myself I wouldn’t overwhelm myself by curating a “want to read” list on Goodreads. And now I’ve gone and done it.So fine. I decided to give Goodreads a shot. For tracking only. Absolutely no 1 – 5 star ratings would be made by me (mostly*). No “want to read” list. Because I want to read all the books, ever. Plus, I have 300 of my own books to read**, and that’s just on my Nook. So seriously: Absolutely no “want to read” list!

Maybe you’re thinking, “You cannot expect me to believe you don’t keep lists of books you want to read.” Of course I keep lists of books I want to read. I write them down in … places: scribbled on the backs of receipts and in the margins of notebooks. Also in my phone’s “notes” app. Sometimes, I take photos of book covers.

What you’ve probably notice: They’re dispersed, disorganized non-methods. This is by design! I can’t possibly keep track of all these random titles in all these random places. Divide and conquer is my strategy.

Except … people recommend books to me on Goodreads. Really interesting, appealing books. And there’s my “want to read” section all empty and abandoned. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to just put one little title in there? But then that one little title looks so lonely…

I currently have 21 books in my “want to read” section. Some of you, who have hundreds of books in your “want to read section,” may be thinking, “Ha, amateur!” Sure, 21 may seem like a tiny little number. That’s … what? maybe three, four months of reading?

Yeah, right. That’s what I said when I had 21 books in my Nook library. And now … well, I can’t even talk about it.

via GIPHY

Do you have any strategies for me for managing my “want to read” list? How do you keep it manageable?

* In a fit of wild enthusiasm, I admit to giving The Nix by Nathan Hill 5 stars. #sorrynotsorry

** Conservative estimate

6 thoughts on “I started a “want to read” list on Goodreads & now I’m scared

  1. Delightful post – and gifs! There’s a tie for my personal favorite – it’s between the hamster and the pie and that cat gif at the end. I might have to award first place to the cat gif because it made me literally “lol” and want to share it with my equally cat-gif-and/or-picture obsessed sister.

    Goodreads is an awesome resource but joining it or being involved in it in any way has always intimidated me for some reason. So I commend you for even joining. I also admire how you keep track of what you read. I don’t do that and then often end up regretting it at certain times. The only thing I do is make a list of quotes I like, if the book I’ve read had any that inspired me – and even that depends, because of course if it’s an e-book, I can just highlight it directly. So, your Excel spreadsheet AND reading journal are just something I am in awe of.

    So, that being said, I have no advice for you or reflections on my own way (s) of keeping track. But thanks for another delightful read!

    1. Thank you, Alysa! The cat is my favorite … though the hamster is adorable too. 🙂

      Goodreads definitely intimidated me. It still does in a lot of ways. There’s so much going on that I haven’t figured out. But I do love the idea of social media specifically for book people!

  2. I got involved with Goodreads specifically for tracking my books. In my agendas in school, there was always a weekly section that said “Book I’m Reading” that I religiously filled out, sometimes with notes on how much I enjoyed it so when I found Goodreads, I was so excited and immediately transferred all my books over!

    That said, I haven’t found a good strategy for keeping my TBR list under control. Each time I hear about a new book, I look it up on Goodreads and then add it to the list if it looks good and I very often get carried away. One thing I’ve done is unsubscribed from some bookstore emails because I’d keep adding those new titles to my list.

    I did go through relatively recently and took out books that seemed just okay. I’ve decided to only keep books on there that I really want to read, rather than just look good. It’s also helped me to organize my to-reads into categories, like Canadian authors, mysteries, poetry collections, so I get a better sense of the genres in my list and whether any one of those is getting out of hand.

    Not sure those tips will really help you keep your TBR list to a minimum but it’s kind of/not really worked for me!

    1. Haha, I so relate to the “kind of/not really.” 🙂

      This is actually super helpful – thank you so much! I definitely hadn’t thought to create sub-categories for my to-read list based on genre or theme. That’s brilliant. I will definitely try that. Maybe I’ll create a “kitchen sink” category for lower priority books. This way I can still keep them without feeling like I have to keep checking that category.

  3. I, like Sam, use Goodreads to keep track of my books. And I have a lot shelves to break down and keep track of books I want to read, book reading challenges, and even books that I hate. And I have a wishlist shelf that is helpful in keeping track of books I want to buy. I often pull it up in bookstores to help me find books I think I may want to read. Oh, and even a shelf of Did Not Finish (AKA DNF)to keep track of books I started but have yet to finish. I star my books too and have never had any negative responses to it. I find it to be a really useful tool in keeping track of my books.

    1. Thank you, Loreen! That’s another one I didn’t think of – a DNF shelf. Awesome idea! I especially like it because DNF, for me, doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t want to read the book. It might be that it wasn’t the right time, or maybe I got distracted by something else I needed to read for work reasons. Between you and Sam, I’m getting inspiration for being more methodical about creating shelves. I appreciate it! 🙂

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