How Do You Keep Track Your Books?

With the increasing spam-itization of vox causing a lot of angst around here (and for good reason), I’ve been thinking about mechanisms to save the content of this blog, you know, if in the end it becomes necessary to go to wordpress or elsewhere.
I mention wordpress specifically because they make it pretty easy to import most of the content from your vox blog, but one thing the importer doesn’t capture is your books.  And I’ve appreciated the ability to keep a “collections” in my vox “library”.  I’d hate to lose that, because I like keeping track of my books — i.e. I’m sort of ever-so-slightly-OCD like that.  And this has been good, because I have to admit that the books in The Aerie aren’t really all that organized – we have a Shelf of Honor for our very favorite books and then various ones scattered around the house for the rest.

Some might say the house is over-crowded with books and that we should purge some of them – but don’t worry, I squelch that sort of crazy-talk.   In fact, rather than toss out of few books, I’m pretty sure that I’ve agreed to pay for built-ins to be made for our upstairs.  So there.

Of course, physically keeping books and tracking them is SO 2nd Millenium, and so, a couple of weeks ago after getting feedback from several of you, I created a Goodreads account.  Goodreads is designed for you to be able to track your virtual library – what you’ve read and what you’d like to read.  Like any good social networking site you can follow the reading habits of your friends that have accounts.  You can post reviews and see what others are saying about the books you’re reading, or look for suggestions as to what to read next.  I think I'll post my going-forward reviews here, too.

And so the other day, I went around and took pictures of our bookshelves here at The Aerie, thinking that over time I will backfill them into Goodreads – which seems a little crazy, but seemed less crazy than taking stacks of books back and forth to my desk to log them in.  I’m allowing myself to let that be a loooonnng process, but am trying to keep up with the current books that I’m reading.  So far, so good.  If you're on Goodreads and we're not "friends", feel free to add me.  (
So — on the nutty-meter where does this stand?  How do you track your books and/or maintain your library?

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23 thoughts on “How Do You Keep Track Your Books?

  1. 11 on the Nutty Meter. ;)
    Just kidding. I'm the queen of OCD. I like your method. But we like to travel light and be able to move easily – so I have a primary bookshelf in the living room, a secondary one in the bedroom. Except for a few gems (Diversity of Life by E.O. Wilson, etc.) we rotate them – read, retire, donate to library or sell at a tag sale. Buy tons more and if we miss a book terribly we'll re-purchase it.
    I hope you don't leave Vox, Steve. I don't enjoy having to keep up with my neighborhood plus travel to other websites to find all my friends who have left here. And it wouldn't be the same here without you. I wish there was a way you could cross post and be on both.

  2. Not nutty in the least!! For about 10 years, I kept a handwritten list, so that when I went to the used book store or the library, I would not bring home the same books again. I was thrilled when I found goodreads and promptly input all my books. Now I have a new problem. I don't have an updated list to take with me to the used bookstore, darn it. I should have kept that one up as well!! But, I was thrilled to finally get them all written down somewhere on line. I wonder if goodreads has something where I can print out the list? I used to do it by author, since that is how the books are divided at the library and used book store.

  3. Until my brother married my sister-in-law, I had no idea that people actually – gasp! – gave books away or got rid of them after they'd read them. Perish the thought. I will say that I've been fortunate enough to very rarely buy books that I won't reread (which is among my criteria for buying vs. library).

  4. on the nutty-meter where does this stand? How do you track your books and/or maintain your library?You are about a filbert, on a scale of goober to coconut.My books are sorted into fiction and non-fiction. Fiction books are alphabetized by author, then title (with series in chronological order of action [1]). Non-fiction are separated by section (biography, religious studies, references, etc.), then alphabetically by author. And paper articles are sorted by author in two file cabinets. All told, I have about sixteen bookcases of books, now that I have ruthlessly pruned away the ones that I hadn't read or referenced in five years or more….John[1] Necessary because some authors do not write their books in the same order that they are "meant" to be read in.

  5. My books are sorted the same as John's. Not because we've ever compared notes along the way, but because that's just one more way in which we think alike. I started up a spreadsheet of my books back in the day when I was a housewife, but the computer crashed part way through the process and I never got back to it.

  6. I'm a second millenium girl. Back in my old country I had a library of over seven hundred books meticulously cataloged in an excel file with columns for who had borrowed them and when I could expect them back. I sold the lot for fifteen dollars to a brand new local bookstore when I moved overseas. After that, I don't have the heart to collect again. My Love and I have a library of fifty books. Exactly fifty – with some transients that have three months to replace something on the shelf or move along out of the household. My cataloging system is now so first millennium. I just remember what I have.

  7. I forgot to chime in on sorting (like my first comment wasn't long enough – sorry) – my system is like LOM's, I don't think I've ever forgotten what I've bought. Probably because I do so much excruciating research before I purchase. Limited funding and all that.
    We're spoiled with our downstairs duplex, makes storing many books easy. But so far as sorting – well, this sounds wacky, but my visual nature makes it necessary that books be placed on the shelf by size. You'd be surprised, though, how easy it is to find them that way. I guess my brain just does a snapshot of the bookshelf layout.

  8. Slightly nutty, sure, but in a totally awesome way! All my books are organized by genre (fiction, non-fiction, comparative religion, travel, humor & instructional, Lu's math/engineering books), then in alpha order by author. I really want a card catalog. Now that is bad. If I could carve out a day to keep an electronic file of my books (and my notes, that would be cool too), I would do it. Maybe when I'm rich I'll hire an assistant to do it!

  9. There's a part of me that wants to be more selective with our books, but to me — more than your car, or your watch or your tv, your books say something about who you are.

  10. Jen — I get overwhelmed when I think of inputting all those books, but I remind myself that this is supposed to be fun to do, not another household chore!

  11. John — I used to be good at keeping my shelves organized, but then I got tired of restructuring them after a while — and now if feels more akin to chaos. I like to think that goodreads will make me feel like I'm in control again, even though I'm not.:)

  12. Emmi — we've been trending towards putting things of equal size and shape together as storage/shelf space becomes more precious. And the clean packing of similar sized objects makes my OCD happy.

  13. That's what I need! An assistant to take care of and track all this stuff!! I don't think I have it in me to do genre and alphabetical anymore. I'd need a much bigger library. Hmmmmm……

  14. If you come up with an alternate to backlogging into goodreads, let me know! Currently our shelves are full, and I'm also cataloging several boxes full in the garage that will eventually go on a spreadsheet. We've also purged a number of books, but for some reason they keep appearing. Have I mentioned we also have a million kid books too?PS Come to the wordpress dark side. You know you want to.

  15. Embarrassingly, I have a Goodreads account, a Shelfari account, and a LibraryThing account. And a WordPress blog. Geez.
    Hi Steve! I'm here!

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