How do you count the books you've read?

In high school I started a list of the sf books I bought, in a steno notebook with the title, when I bought the book and where. I wrote the date I read the book above it. 20 years later work and a second kid overwhelmed me and I gave it up.
I later made a spreadsheet of all the sf books I own, with a notation if I’ve read them or not - but lots are maybes.
So I can kind of count the number of books I’ve read in my collection but I’ve never kept track of library and non-sf books.
I have started a log of books I’ve finished, but that is mostly to track how long it takes and to inspire me to read faster.
I have to read like I’m running out of time. </Hamilton>

I used to keep lists for the annual 50 books challenge. My criteria has always been that a book only counts if I finish it. That means when I compare my past reading to lists of 200 best books or 50 books everyone should read, I always notice books I can’t count because I hated them and didn’t finish them. I don’t count re-reads, but I guess I’d count a book in Spanish even if I also read it in English.

I started keeping a list in 2017 because I occasionally wondered just how many books I really did read. It was an interesting experiment, but it had its downside, because I let it turn into a contest rather than just a simple accounting. I wound up reading at least one book (Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer) I really didn’t enjoy, because it was short. I also put off until this year several books I really wanted to read (for instance, Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson) because I knew I was going to want to enjoy them at leisure.

I’m keeping a list this year too, but mostly because I’m trying to read a bunch of Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh mysteries and it’s hard to keep track of all those titles. I refuse to get myself into another self-imposed contest.

As far as what counts as a book, I haven’t read any with multiple translations so I haven’t had to deal with that. I do consider collections of short stories to count as books. I also counted the sole graphic novel I read, and a book on archaeology that was mostly aerial photographs (by Charles and Anne Lindbergh!) but had several chapters of text.

Edit: I didn’t count books I never finished (duh), but I did re-read several books from years ago and I think it’s fair to include those.

It’s really not a tedious task at all. All it involves is finish a book, write down the title and author/editor and mark if it’s a re-read. Takes 30 seconds. At the end of the year, take another 30 seconds to note the yearly total and add it to the running total, less any re-reads. I just write it in a notebook, no detailed spreadsheets or anything like that.

I used to do the detailed spreadsheet for the movie list, with the date, time, which cinema I went to. That’s probably where it started getting tedious so I quit after a decade or so (I am pretty stubborn…).

It’s nowhere near as obsessive as the Quantified self movement! That I have no interest in getting into. My book tracking obsession is more like the Minimally Quantified Mind. :slight_smile:

I have a tendency where a current conversation, or bit of reading, or something I hear, will remind me of something I read in a book years earlier, but I can’t recall exactly what book. So sometimes, there’s a chance that, if I review the list, seeing the title of the book in question will jog my memory. “Right, that’s the book I read it in!”

I mostly buy books at used book stores, and never give them up. So my book shelf is basically my “what I’ve read” list. I try to keep the “to be read” books separate from the “have read” books. I don’t think I’ve ever read multiple translations of the same book, so that’s really not an issue.

Why would I want to count them? What does that tell anyone about anything worth knowing?

It’s not about telling “anyone”. It’s about telling something to the person who is counting. What’s “worth knowing” depends on the value that someone places on that knowledge.

It seems that some people lack imagination …

I don’t count the number of books I’ve read but I can understand the desire to do so.
There’s obviously a number. Knowing the number can satisfy curiosity. It can provide something beyond the experience of reading. Perhaps it’s motivational or it provides a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps the counting itself is satisfying. Or something else.

I wonder if Wilt Chamberlain counted how many he read?

This. Different translations can make it seem a different work entirely. If you read the same work in different languages, the same applies, or even mores. Reading in second or third or fourth languages is a lot of work, and you’ll get different images and ideas about the text from languages other than your first one.

I also write a few sentences about the work, so I remember it later. Give a star rating system for the better books.

He had time to read?

Also, he number doesn’t matter much to me, and I don’t add up the totals from year to year. But knowing the themes of particular works, whose writing was particularly good, what gave good food for thought or what light read carried me through a stressful time, does matter. Useful to refer to when getting together with seldom seen friends to discuss books and recommend some or warn away from others. I’ve toyed with different ways of tracking, but have settled on devoting a dozen pages or so in my bullet journal.

There are several people in this thread who currently track books they read, but I don’t see any who track every single book they’ve ever read.

For me it would simply be impossible, and I can see exactly zero benefit, so I don’t do it. (Zero for me; if you enjoy it, have fun).

We did inventory the books at Mom’s house, but that was so she’d be able to avoid buying multiple copies. The trigger was buying her third copy of a book that’s “super important!” but apparently not so super important that she would believe us when we told her she already had two copies.

so you don’t buy the same book twice.

I started keeping a list in my teens when I kept starting on suspense novels by Bagley or Maclean that I’d already read. Eventually put that into a spreadsheet, and now I use Goodreads and the goodreads app.

I count the number the way Goodreads counts. Multiple translations do not count, and rereading only adds to a how many books I’ve read that year, not to how many books I’ve read total.

I also went through all the books I read before the existence of book tracking websites and guesstimated when I read them, because of Goodreads neat “year read” - “year published” graph.

I try to, but I can’t remember every one of the hundreds of books I read in elementary and middle school … I’ve only added the ones I’m certain of, like C.S. Lewis’ books, and haven’t tried remembering what dozen Hardy-boys books I read, or which Nancy Drew, or what Jenkins books or …

No. I must have 2-300 downloaded. It is nice when Amazon reminds me “You’ve already purchased that”

Oh Snap!

It’s not so much the number of books. I keep track so I can remember which ones I have read. I read a lot of histories and books on biblical studies, many of which have very similar titles.

On one hand.

When I was in high school and college, I could tell which books I owned and/or read. Not so much any more. I have a pdf version of my spreadsheets (one for books, one for magazines) on my phone so I could look up books I’m interested in buying which I’m sure I don’t have. 75% of them I do have. Comes from being so far behind and from losing some brain cells as I’ve aged.