I love spreadsheets. This used to be something I was embarrassed about until the Internet arrived and I met all kinds of number and spreadsheet nerds, and now it’s a badge I wear with honor.
I’m also an avid reader of both comics and prose, and (being a spreadsheet nerd) I like to keep track of what I’ve read. Enter the reading spreadsheet. It has taken many forms since I started tracking my reading in 2008; I’ve added and subtracted different columns depending on what reading goals I have for the year and what I want to track. As I’ve been reading more and more comics over the years, I had to rethink tracking those. How do I keep track of a series? Do I need a different spreadsheet altogether? How do I count comics? People have suggested I make the switch to Goodreads, but that comes with its own challenges. Plus I like having control of and being able to track my own data. And I like pretty spreadsheets—aesthetics matter!
I’ve mused on this for a very long time (longer than you’d think), and have finally come up with my reading spreadsheet for 2016. It provides the flexibility I need while also being simple to use; tracking TOO MUCH data can also get annoying. I also get the results I want at a glance. This is a sample spreadsheet, with titles selected to show what the spreadsheet can do, rather than what I’ve read this year. The sheet is read-only, but you can download it and edit your own copy.
Let’s start with the first sheet, “Tracking.” Comics are grouped by run; even if I’ve read 44 issues of a comic, it’s only going to count as one title on the sheet. I can keep track of how I’ve read a comic (Vol. 1, Issues 5-9). Comics and prose books mingle on the sheet, but I track which is which.
As far as inclusivity, I track two things: PoC and LGBTQIA+. I’m also considering adding disability to the sheet. My official goal for PoC reading is 50% across what I read for the year; this is the first year I’m tracking LGBTQIA+, so I don’t have a goal in mind, but I know that the simple act of tracking it will encourage me to seek out more. I keep track of whether there is rep in the story through major characters, and also on the creative team.
Another thing I’m interested in knowing? What percent of digital vs. print I read, and where my books and comics come from.
Now, what to do with this data? Hop on over to the second sheet, “Results.” This is where the magic happens. I’ve designed the spreadsheet to take my inputs and spit out a bunch of numbers and percents. For example, the spreadsheet will count the number of times I say “Author” and “Artist” are PoCs and give me a percentage. It’s a quick and easy way to check on my reading stats and see where I need to improve.
Feel free to download your own copy of the spreadsheet and change the inputs to track whatever you want. Or use the spreadsheet as-is! If you change the inputs, note than to track PoC/Queer, it counts the actual words “Artist,” “MC,” and “Author.” If you want to change these columns to use your own terminology or count something different, you need to change the corresponding formulas on the second sheet. If you add a column, into the Tracking spreadsheet, don’t worry. It won’t break the formulas; they’ll adapt!
I’ll continue to fiddle with my own reading spreadsheet over the next week. For example, I’ve already added a column to track lady-type writers/artists/creators. Any other suggestions?
Do you track your reading? If you do, how do you do it, and what things do you want to learn about your reading?