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6 Ways to Channel Your Type-A Book Nerd

Emma Nichols

Staff Writer

Emma Nichols is a career bookseller. Though she expected to grow up to be a librarian, or a witch, she's quite happy with how things are working out. Officially, she specializes in children's books and manages their book fairs; unofficially, she is passionate about short stories and spreadsheets. When not evangelizing her favorite books to unsuspecting customers, she can be heard discussing books and bookselling on her podcast Drunk Booksellers. Her other hobbies include organizing her books, taking pictures of her cat, and binge-re-watching her favorite TV shows. Blog: The Bibliot Twitter: @thebibliot

As someone who organizes their books, tracks their reading, and generally has a…let’s say intense personality, I classify myself as a Type-A book nerd. Did you know the Type-A versus Type-B distinctions were developed by two cardiologists who believed there was a correlation between Type-A personalities and risk of coronary heart disease? Fortunately for me and my fellow Type-As, this is not necessarily accurate. Which is great because I kind of love being Type-A; yes, I am anxious, stressed, and impatient, but I’m also organized, driven, and likely to swoon at the sight of a nice spreadsheet.

6 ways to channel your type-a book nerd

Whether you consider yourself Type-A or not, there are so many fun ways to really lean in to your book nerd life. Yes, I mean beyond reading a lot of books, which is also encouraged. And many of  my favorite Book Riot posts often encourage my Type-A book nerd tendencies. So, for your convenience, I’ve created a list of my favorite things to do when I am feeling especially nerdy or Type-A. Each item also has one (or more) full articles for you to really dig in to.

Catalog Your Books

card catalog drawer

Whether in a spreadsheet or an app, track every book you own. The benefits of this are numerous—you’ll never accidentally buy a duplicate title or forget what book you loaned out. But it’s also just fun to see the stats and data behind your book collection. Do you own more books by men or women? Americans or Brits? How many of the books on your shelf have you actually read? The data possibilities are endless. If you’re intrigued, I wrote a whole post on why and how to catalog your book collection.

Track Your Reading

I’ve kept track of every book I’ve finished since 2014. Looking back at these spreadsheets is like looking at a map of my reading life for the last four years. It’s also made me a more conscientious reader—the spreadsheet I use tracks how many books by women, queer writers, and writers of color I’m reading (among many other stats). I can quickly see when the ratio of white writers to writers of color is uneven, and adjust my reading choices. I love having access to not only the history but the stats of my reading life. If this idea is appealing, Rioter Rachel Manwill has a post all about her Reading Spreadsheet, along with tips on how to set up your own.

Keep a Commonplace Book

Late 17th Century Commonplace Book

Late 17th Century Commonplace Book courtesy of Beinecke Flickr Laboratory

A commonplace book is a notebook where you write down quotes and passages that struck a chord with you for whatever reason. As Rioter Emma Allmann says, it’s like “a real life Pinterest quote board.” I don’t have a separate book for quotes; I simply write them down in my journal. Among my other thoughts and musings, these quotes take on a greater context—illuminating what is important and interesting to me right now. It’s also a great way to savor the book you’re reading; rewriting quotes forces you to slow down and really consider the sentence(s) word by word.

Get Bookish in Your Bullet Journal

The bullet journal is kind of perfect for Type-A book nerds. It’s a planner you design yourself. And there are so many ways you can customize it. Keep a spread of the books you’re reading, the books you want to read, the pages you’ve read each week, etc. Rioter Laura Sackton has three spreads that have improved her reading life. And Rioter Tirzah Price has put together a whole post featuring bookish bullet journal pages.

Create Your Own Syllabus

Rioter Dana Staves recently wrote a post about wanting to expand her comic-reading horizons. To tackle such a project, she created her own syllabus. This was one of the coolest ideas I’d ever heard. I often miss the rigor of academia and there are a number of reading projects I’d like to tackle. Creating a syllabus scratches both itches.

Reorganize Your Bookshelves


The most obvious way to channel your Type-A book nerd: organize and reorganize your books. There’s no limit to the ways a personal library can be organized—alpha by author, by subject, by color, by read and unread, or some combination therein. I organize mine by subject, then alpha by author, then by pub date. As you might expect, we’ve waxed poetic about bookshelf organization in numerous posts. Two of my favorites are this one on the  pros and cons of different organization styles and seven ways to organize your shelves that aren’t alphabetic.

So, fellow Type-A book nerds, what activities beyond reading do you engage in when you’re feeling especially inclined to organization and/or nerdishness?