Friday, April 17, 2009

How do you keep up?

By Lonnie Cruse

I consider myself a fairly prolific reader, but many of the readers on the DorothyL Internet discussion list put me deep in the shade, reading MULTIPLE books per week! When DO you people sleep? Or eat? And how DO you keep up with the titles of those books? But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm lucky if I average ONE book per week.

How do you keep up with the books you've read so that you don't wind up buying them all over again? Particularly if they are re-issued by a different publisher, sporting new covers? It's mighty easy to forget what you read a few years back and wind up buying the same book again. Not that that's always a bad thing, IF like me, you sometimes (ahem, okay, fairly often) forget the ending. I'm hoping you will share some tips with us here at PDD.

Personally, I've tried putting the list of books I've read into my Palm pilot (which died, but I still have the list on my computer somewhere, and I now use one of those little yearly calendars.) Then I tried journaling my reads, but often when I'm done with a book I re-shelve it or drop it in the give-away totebag, forgetting to note it in the journal.

My lovely sister used index cards which she carried everywhere, but some readers would not be able to lift and/or carry their purses after a couple of years. Not to mention a man's back pocket dragging the ground. Not a pretty picture.

Some people use spread sheets, but I confess, spread sheets, like fax machines, terrify me. Okay, I'm a coward. I actually pay a buck a page every time I have to fax something rather than own and use a machine myself. Where was I?

A list is absolutely crucial if you are reading an author like Anne Perry who has four, count 'em, yes-sir-ee, four series going at once. Sigh. And her first series, the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, has at least thirty entries alone. Like most readers, I rarely read more than one book in a series, in a row. Then I switch to another author's series, then another, then go back to the first author. Variety. But when switching around, it's very easy to get lost and forget what I'd read last in that author's series. Yes, I could check my shelves or look in the closet, but I don't have room to keep every book I read, so unless it's a fave author, or something I might want to refer back to when reading the next, it's outta here.

With my new Kindle, Amazon keeps a list of books purchased on my account, which helps, but what about hard copies?

My latest effort at keeping up with what I read is going online to and printing out a list of my favorite author's books. Then I put a mark by the books as I purchase them, and turn that mark into an X when I've read and/or listened to the book. Makes for a fairly large file, so far, but it works better than anything else I've tried. Even Anne Perry's multiplicity doesn't seem to get the best of me with this method. No, I can't carry the entire file everywhere with me, so if I know I'm heading to a book store, I carry a few pages along. If I walk by a book store and get suddenly sucked inside, I have to wing it.

If you have a better way to keep track of your books purchased and/or read, I, for one, would love hearing it. Thanks in advance.


Paul Lamb said...

I'm not sure it's better, but I simply keep a list of the books I've read, including the date completed, on the back page of my current journal. I think only once in my life I have ever picked up a book a second time, not knowing I had already read it (or heard it in this case -- it was a audio book). Of course there are plenty of books I've picked up and read again deliberately because the writing is so very good.

Joyce said...

I don't keep track. I'm terrible with titles, and sometimes who-wrote-what, but if I pick up the book and read the back or the jacket, I usually remember if I've read it or not.

Julia Buckley said...

I used to keep a list of books read, by year, on my computer. The highest I ever got was eighty-something.

But in the last few years, what with children and job and such, I haven't even taken the time to write them down--which is a shame, because then I forget half the titles.

Lonnie Cruse said...

I like Paul's idea, might give it a try IF I can stick to my daily journal. I did real well last year, not so good this year.

Forgetting the title/author is very common with me, sigh.

Sandra Parshall said...

I have a notebook in which I list books I've read or listened to on tape/CD. These days I listen more than I read, I'm afraid. I've stopped caring whether I read series like Anne Perry's in order. I just make the mental adjustment.

Often when I look at my list, I can't recall a thing about some of the books -- the title and author name aren't enough to bring back details about the book itself. I know writers don't like to hear this from a reader (I wouldn't), but few books make an indelible impression on me.

Kaye Barley said...

Every year I make the promise to myself that I'm going to start keeping a list, then I forget. Then I remember in March or April. Then I can't remember what I've already read in Jan. & Feb. so I give it up and swear I'll do it next year.

Knowing I'll forget, why don't I start my list today?? I just might, and I'll do it clean and simple and just write them down. someplace.

Anonymous said...

I started using LibraryThing to track what I read (and/or listen to) a couple of years ago. It's easy to add a book and a short tag (for example, r2009). If I ever had a lot of spare time, I'd like to go back and add titles I read before I started keeping track, but that day probably won't come.

Dorte H said...

How do you keep up with the books you've read so that you don't wind up buying them all over again?

That one is easy; I don´t.
My only consolation is that my husband is worse. He owns three copies of the same book; so far I only have doublets.

Kris said...

I'm a computer nerd so I have a database in Microsoft Access where I keep track of my books. Once I read a book, I mark it as read. I have list of books I want, this is usually where I keep track of series I'm working on and the books I still need to buy to complete the series, so I usually print that and keep it in my purse. For the most part though...I can remember if I own a specific title so I rarely buy diplicates.