Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reading Lists

I need to find a better way to keep track of the books I want to read. How do other people do this? Right now, I have a list on notepaper in the back of my datebook/planner, I have a Word file on my desktop, I have a list in Visual Bookshelf on Facebook, I have a somewhat outdated list on my website, I have a few things saved in my Amazon wishlist, and I have scribbled notes on post-its and little pieces of paper scattered around my desk.

This is not especially efficient.

I would love to have just one master place to keep track of books I want to read, but each of the above systems has particular benefits not shared by all the others. For example, the Word file is great because I can cut and paste reviews or listserve comments to help me remember where I heard about the book and what made me want to read it and why. But the scraps of paper are great for when I'm not at my computer, or when I am at my computer but Word isn't open and I don't feel like waiting for it (my computer is getting a little old and slow, and those extra few seconds it takes to open programs can sometimes feel like hours, and I am often late, rushing, or just impatient and have no time for such things). And the datebook list is great for when I'm out somewhere and I see a book in a store or get a good recommendation from a friend, but then sometimes I forget that I even started that list until the next time I'm out and someone gives me a recommendation.

As so often happens in various situations in my life, I find myself wishing for the Star Trek computer arrangement, so I could just say to the air around me, "Computer. Add Jumpy Jack & Googily by Meg Rosoff to Master Reading List. Include note that I read about it on the PlanetEsme blog." And Majel Barrett's voice would say, "Acknowledged. Title and note added." (I fear that technology is still some years away, unfortunately. Along with the holodeck. Sigh.)

I've got a new list now of books to read before my first residency at Vermont College, and those are currently divided on little pieces of paper titled "Get at Library," "Requested from Library," and "Ordered from Amazon." I will post them here, sort of as a backup (in case I lose my little pieces of paper) and also in case it is interesting to anyone. These are mostly just the novels and books on writing; there are also many picture books I want/need to read, but I'll have to tackle those another time. Maybe a library day where I try and read as many as I can at the library without checking them all out and carrying them home. I certainly can't buy them all; gotta save my moolah for tuition and besides, I'm already at full capacity on my bookshelves.

Anyway. Novels/stories and craft books I'm reading/going to read before July:

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
What's Your Story? A Young Person's Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer
Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard
Trash by Sharon Darrow
The Painters of Lexieville by Sharon Darrow
Odd Man Out by Sarah Ellis
The Art of Writing for Children by Connie Epstein
Writing Books for Young People by James Cross Giblin
The Vanishing Point by Louise Hawes
Waiting for Christopher by Louise Hawes
The Gate in the Wall by Ellen Howard
Naming Maya by Uma Krishnaswami
The Broken Tusk by Uma Krishnaswami
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
100 Best Books for Children by Anita Silvey
Every Time a Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams-Garcia
Rex Zero and the End of the World by Tim Wynne-Jones

If anyone out there has some awesome system of keeping track of their reading list(s), please share!


  1. Hi, Michelle.

    I watched a video podcast a bunch of months ago by David Pogue of The New York Times. He recommended the software on this site to organize, not only your library, but also all your media titles. Note this software is for Macs only. And you don't have to buy, if you don't like it. You can download a trial version free first. Hope this helps.

    The Software:

    The New York Times Technology Video Podcast:

  2. Hi Mikki:

    I have the same problem with notes about my WIP. I always have five notebooks going at once, plus I often write on whatever receipt I find in my bag when I somehow manage to forget all five of my notebooks.

    It's awful, everything is everywhere and stuff definitely falls through the cracks. My NEW plan (and I have a friend who does this) is to have ONE (1) notebook. Period. It will be for EVERYTHING -- friends book/movie suggestions, random ideas, book thoughts, shopping lists, song titles, questions for the pediatrician, etc.

    I'll let you know how it works out.


  3. I have a tiny little spiral notebook with me, all the time. It's either in my work bag or in my car. It's the only way I can function, and remember not only books I need to read, but grocery items, birthdays and the like.

    Did you say you're going to be in Vermont this July? DID you? You do know Vermont is my happy place, and we'll be there in July, too. you swim in lakes? :)

  4. i really have nothing of value to add, i am merely following directions like sheep and checking out the blog as instructed... however there must be a happy medium between Star Trek super computer and your slow crappy pc...

    Library Lion Rocks!!!

  5. Hi David! - The name alone (Delicious Monster!) makes me want to try it. I don't have a mac, though, so I suppose it's not meant to be. Oh, it seems very cool, though!!

    Rebecca - sounds like David T. already uses that one-notebook system successfully... I hope it works for you, too! I actually bought a little notebook recently to start carrying around with me, but haven't really started to put it to use. I did do something like that in college, though, and it worked really well. It had to be a very cheap little notebook, so I wouldn't feel any urge to "save it" for something "important" (the new notebook I just bought is cute - that might be the problem) and I called it my Listbook and I just made lists of everything I needed to do and take care of along with ideas, etc. I should definitely try doing that again.

    David T - we will talk about July! :)

    And George - thanks for sheeping over to say hi! :)

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  7. Hi Mikki:

    I use Goodreads for my lists. It's gotten pretty huge. I now have 250 books "to read." But the way I do it is I break up the "to-reads" into categories and then I print out the lists before I go to a bookstore. It works for me because I always lost the little slips of paper and I'd go to a bookstore or library and not be able to remember ONE book I wanted to read. That's how pathetic it was -- seriously. But now I have a bunch of possibilities. I also like keeping track of the books I have read and when I read them. I forget titles of books I have read and that's confusing too. ANYWAY, I think you're on Goodreads and I'll "friend" you so you can see my books (I keep it private).

    Cool about Vermont! Have a great time!

  8. My system's not particularly awesome, but it works for me. I tend to use a text-edit file (much faster to deal with than Word). I also use the "Visual Bookshelf" application on Facebook, which has not only the "want to read" list, but also "already read" and "reading now" lists. That's much more social than practical, though -- the text file is practical. (I also have the text file sorted into categories, as well as immediate short lists marked "get from library," "amazon wishlist" etc.) I'll write down books on scraps of paper wherever I am when I hear about something I want to read, and add it to the text file later.

    "What's Your Story" is awesome. It may be aimed at young writers, but is valuable for a writer of any age. Unlike most writing manuals for adults, which are usually at least half-devoted to the process of Getting Published (because I think that's what adults tend to zero in on, assuming that's the part they REALLY need advice/guidance for), What's Your Story is *all* about writing, and the satisfaction that comes from writing, not being published. (Not that I have ever convinced any adult student who wants to "be a writer" that there is any point to such an attitude.) Anyway, it really is a great manual.

  9. Hey Mik,

    I did a Google search of Delicious Monster and found this blog post on an identical Windows version.

    Hope reading this helps.



  10. yeah, i've got a system for all the books i have to read. it's called piles. it's not a good system, and at times not a very organized system, but it works for me. so far.

    not to throw another log on the fire, but sarah ellis' "tales of ordinary jack" was, i thought, a great read.

    guess we'll be talking in person soon enough...

  11. Hi David E! :)

    Yeah, piles. I do that, too, sometimes. Then my cat knocks them over and I'm back to looking for a new system. Plus the library fines start to add up over time.

    Ah and yeah, thanks SO much for giving me another book rec to worry about. ;)

    Looking forward to meeting you in person in (yikes) less than three weeks? Oh, man, I still have so much to do...