5 Helpful Apps for Organizing Your Reading Life

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Avid readers have a lot to manage: incredibly long to-be-read lists (I just met a woman with 3,000 books on her Goodreads “want to read” shelf), overflowing physical shelves, unorganized digital books cluttering their cloud (?). Remembering what books they’ve lent to which friend, remembering what books to read for their however many book clubs, etc. Some readers enjoy letting the chaos of a busy reading life wash over them–others like to employ a few useful digital tools to organize it and collect some juicy data on which they can reflect later. Neither choice is the correct one, but if you fall in the later camp, you might find these helpful:

Forest App (iOS, Android)

If you find yourself having trouble finding time to sit down and read with some focus, you need the Forest app. You set the timer for however long you want to focus on your book, and put your phone down, then let your tree grow. If you mess with your phone before the time is up, you kill the tree. As you raise more trees and grow your forest, you earn coins which you can spend in-app to have the Forest team plant real trees. Focused reading time AND do-goodery!

bookout (ios)

Bookout is a pretty comprehensive app that lets you add/organize your books via scanning or the in-app search, lets you add reviews/quotes to each book, and has a real-time reading tracker function. But the really interesting thing about this tool is that it both 1) lets you unlock goals/reading achievements and 2) generates data infographics about each book you read, including your reading speed. Seeing a reading streak of several days is pretty satisfying, and (unlike Goodreads) you can set a goal for monthly books read, and not just yearly. It’s a nice way to gamify your reading life, if that appeals to you!

bound (ios)

Bound allows you to upload audiobook files to your cloud account (Dropbox, whatever) and listen to them on your phone. Here’s where this is especially useful: if you’re getting physical CD audiobooks from the library, but know you won’t finish them in your library’s lending time. Burn them, add the files to Bound, listen to them at your own pace, then delete the files when you’re done.

Overdrive (ios, android)

Support your public library and manage your library account with Overdrive (some public libraries have other digital apps they’re partnered with–just ask a librarian). Overdrive allows me to borrow ebooks and audiobooks and read/listen to them right on my phone, but what’s especially useful about it to me is you can log-in with your library card number and manage your holds. I tend to get overwhelmed when a bunch of holds come in at once, so per the advice here, I use Overdrive to suspend and stagger them so I only get about one per week. It also allows you to connect to more than one library system, so if you move you can join two! Don’t tell my local librarians I said that!

Slack (ios, android)

Slack is a messaging app designed for the workplace–you can create channels based on projects, teams, office sites, whatever. It’s great for companies that have employees in various locations (for example, Book Riot–we use and love Slack and it’s cut down on our internal email by a million percent). Know what else it’s great for? Motha effin’ digital book clubs. Want to start a book club with your friends, but they’re scattered hither and yon? Create a Slack team for them and chat about all things bookish. You can schedule your “meetings,” or just talk to each other as you read over the course of the month or week or whatever. Slack is free, and has both a desktop and mobile app, so it’s really the easiest way to manage this sort of thing.

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