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Crowdsource My Database: How Do You Organize Your Reading Life?

Brenna Clarke Gray

Staff Writer

Part muppet and part college faculty member, Brenna Clarke Gray holds a PhD in Canadian Literature while simultaneously holding two cats named Chaucer and Swift. It's a juggling act. Raised in small-town Ontario, Brenna has since been transported by school to the Atlantic provinces and by work to the Vancouver area, where she now lives with her stylish cyclist/webgeek husband and the aforementioned cats. When not posing by day as a forserious academic, she can be found painting her nails and watching Degrassi (through the critical lens of awesomeness). She posts about graphic narratives at Graphixia, and occasionally she remembers to update her own blog, Not That Kind of Doctor. Blog: Not That Kind of Doctor Twitter: @brennacgray

I have no idea what I read this year.

Honestly. No. Earthly. Idea.

If I think hard, I can tell you what I taught, what I reviewed formally, and what I wrote about here for BR. I can tell you, if you give me a few minutes, what I read for my research. In all of those lists, I will leave out so, so much. But my pure pleasure reading? I haven’t the foggiest.

It’s a good problem to have. My life affords me the opportunity to read so much I forget what I’ve read. Come on.

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I used to keep a list on my blog, but then when I had to roll back because of a security something or other (note: not a web developer) I lost most of the list and was way too frustrated to reconstruct it (and, the aforementioned lack of memory), so I reckon I could use something more cloud-based. I don’t want a basic spreadsheet because I need to be able to check it and update it in lots of different places. A Google Doc could work, but I think I want more?

I’ve been checking out LibraryThing and Goodreads and such this past weekend, and I like some aspects of most of them. (I’m mittenstrings on Goodreads if you want to come convince me I will heart it forever — I’m skeptical of the rating scheme but do like the app and the ebook integration.) But how do you keep track of your reading? Do you feel the need to at all? Do you like having social media integrated? Do you care about ratings?

I need your recommendations, so I’m soliciting with this post: what do you use, and why? Here’s what I think I need and want (but I can readily be convinced that I don’t know what the hell I want):

  • I don’t like ratings.  I really don’t have any interest in rating things I read at all, and certainly not out of five stars.
  • A good iOS app or at least a good mobile web interface.
  • If it plays well with eReaders, it needs to be Kobo-connected. I don’t super care about this but I also don’t want to be pushed Kindle stuff all the time.
  • Some way to categorize and tag so I can see what I read in a month, a year. This is the whole purpose to me.
  • If it’s gonna play well with social media, I favour Twitter for such things.
  • I don’t need to be able to backfill with everything I’ve read ever. That seems tedious. This is a “from here on out” kind of project for me.

Tell me how you track your reading, if you track your reading, or why I should quit bothering to track my reading in the comments below (pen and paper and off-line folks welcome, too — I can be convinced).