Keeping track of books read

I read a lot of genre fiction, mostly fantasy and mystery, and there are lots of times when I simply can’t remember the name of the author I read last week whose book I really really liked and ooh I think there’s a sequel but the library can’t tell me what I had checked out and I didn’t mention the title to anyone oh and I think the cover of the book was blue.

I also have a tough time remembering what books other people have recommended I try.

I’m sure amongst the brilliant book-loving Dopers there are some ideas for keeping track of books that you’ve read or want to read?

Help me.

Set up a simple database file in Microsoft Office or AppleWorks: title, author, genre, year read, notes.

Some additional fields could be: year first published, owned or borrowed or online, your rating on a scale of 10, one-sentence plot summary.

My wife keeps an Access database of all the books she owns, all the ones she’s read, all the ones to be read and all the ones she wants to buy. Seems to work for her.

Erm, I have no idea whatsoever how to set up a database. Yes, I am that clueless.

I’m pretty sure that all flavors of Windows database programs have a setup wizard. It will guide you through the steps.

First, you would create a blank database. Then add fields. Field 1: Author. Field 2: Title. Field 3: Genre (then make up a code for each genre you read, like Fic, Fan, Mys, etc. Field 4: Own? (you will have the option to make each field do a specific thing; you can either type in Y or N into it, or make a Logic field that looks for the input of a Y or N character. Field 5: Read? Y or N. Field 6: Comments. Make this a text field so you can add unlimited characters. Then what’s left is to type up a list of all your books, and the ones you’d like. That should be pretty easy to set up.

If you have Microsoft Office, it has a database, probably Access. I use a MS Works database to list my 20,000 records and CDs, and I hadn’t created one before.

I’ve been keeping track in a Word document, just title, author, and plot summary.

For awhile I used an on-line searchable database program, but it’s been discontinued.

It was really cool. All I had to do was enter the ISBN, and the relevant details popped up. I could add fields of my own, including where the book was in the house, who it had been loaned to, a plot summary, rating, etc.

You can do essentially the same thing with a spreadsheet (e.g., Excel) – that’s how I keep track of my comics.

But for books, I just have a Word document that I’ve been keeping since 1999 that lists the author and title of every book I’ve read since then.


I’m kicking myself for not having started keeping track years ago. Yet I still don’t start, and next year I’ll kick myself for it.

Ditto for the movies I’ve seen. You can have a date (or date range), where you got the book, how far you read (if you stopped midway), a “score” (letter, 10-scale, etc.), plus some short fields on what you liked best about the book and your overall impression. Nothing too fancy (Excel can fit a lot on a single sheet) but enough to help kickstart the brain when you’re reviewing old entries.

You don’t have to get all high-tech and complicated, of course. You could just get a little notebook that you can carry around with you and jot down titles, authors, etc. in.

I’ll admit to using’s wish list feature to help me keep track of books I’m interested in reading.

I bought a little spiral note book/diary that I keep in the bedside table. When I finish a book, I write down the pertinent info into the note book. I include author, title, copyright date, a rating out of 4 stars, and a brief description.

It’s been great to have; I love flipping back through the pages and remembering books I’ve read. A lot easier than the computer database idea.

I don’t bother with a database. I have a little 5x8 notebook. It just says things like:

June '05
Savage Inequalities, Jonathan Kozol. inner-city schools.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke.
Emily books, LM Montgomery. Dean is creepy.

and so on. My notebook has 2 sections, so I use the back one for good quotations.

I also have a more indepth system for classics; I try to have a classic-type book going all the time, and I take notes and stuff for that. They get a seperate binder.

Books I haven’t read: On bedside table (or coffee table, kitchen table, etc)
Books I’ve read: shelved.

Doesn’t give me any more details, and doesn’t work for “books to buy / get from the library” tho.


At least one public library system will keep track of your books, if you want.

Minuteman Library Network, in eastern Massachusetts, has Reading History.

I started keeping an Excel spreadsheet of the books I read this year.

On the other hand, I always worry what the librarians would think of me if they did that. :smiley: I do at least keep a list of authors I enjoy so I can continue to follow their work.

I have a journal for keeping track of my books. I’ve had it for several years now.

I also update my reading in the LJ community dopersread50, a 50 Books Challenge community for Dopers.

Oh, and I have another journal for keeping track of books that I want to read. It has something like 300 entries at the moment.

Also, take a digital camera picture of the front and back covers as well as possibly the inside cover (with the ISBN etc) and store that alongside the record. That way, you can refresh your memory about what the book is about.