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How Do You Track Your TBR?

I was trying to get another edition of the Sophisticated Dorkiness Nonfiction Recommendation Engine (or whatever I’m calling it) done for today, but my Tuesday evening got away from me pretty significantly (for good reasons) and I just couldn’t quite polish it up to my liking.

Rather than publish something I didn’t love, I decided to hold onto that post for Friday and use today to ask a question that’s been on my mind lately: How do you keep track of your book wish list?

Right now, I’ve got at least six or seven lists of books I want to read. I have a “Want to Read” list on Goodreads, two lists on Amazon (one for books I want to buy in paperback, one for general books I want to remember), a similar list on Barnes and Noble, a wishlist at the library for books I want to check out at some point, a “shopping list” in Todoist (my task management/reminder app of choice) for books I’m burning to buy next time I’m in a bookstore, plus several themed lists of books saved in various Google docs. It’s totally insane and, more importantly, unmanageable.

The thing I hate most about the lists is that, often, I can’t remember what made me put the book on the list in the first place. Some of the books are obvious — favorite author, next in a favorite series, a book I love that I want in my collection — but often I add books based on reviews or recommendations from friends, but have no way to note it on the list. Then when it comes time to get a new book, I get overwhelmed by lists I can’t remember anything about.

What I’d really like is to find a way to corral all of these lists in a single place. I’d love the list to be as easily available on my computer as it is on my smartphone/tablet (I have Android). I’d like the list to have a space where I can include a link or note about why I want to read the book. It’d be cool of the list were sharable in some way, but that’s not a requirement.

I probably won’t get rid of my “To Borrow” list for the library, but I think there must be a way to corral the rest of these lists into a single, accessible place? I’m hoping that you guys can help me out. How do you keep track of your book wish list?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Fyrefly July 24, 2013, 10:23 am

    I use LibraryThing, and put the link or recommender’s info in the comments. (When I can remember it!). You can also sort books that are at various priority levels via tags, or putting them in different collections. (My wishlist proper is books that I’d like to read and/or own, and I also have a “want my own copy” wishlist for stuff I’ve already read.) I also have a holds list at the library, and Amazon wishlists, but the LT one is the most complete and up-to-date.

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:16 pm

      I’d love to get more into LibraryThing, but there site is frustrating for me to navigate on my phone (where I end up reading a lot of blogs, and that I carry around to check on book lists while I”m shopping).

      • Fyrefly July 26, 2013, 9:49 am

        Oh, that’s totally true. I know they’re working on a full-fledged app, but at the moment, it is kind of a pain, and I mostly use it for looking up books that have (to keep from buying duplicates), not even trying to add new books.

  • Shelleyrae July 24, 2013, 10:32 am

    Since you are already using Goodreads you can take advantage of some of it features to create your lists. When you add a book to your tbr list, use the private notes section to add why, or a link or at what store or whatever other reason and/or you can create separate shelves along the same lines.
    The handy thing is that you can update on any device and the changes will reflect on them all.
    Good luck getting organised!

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:17 pm

      That’s good to know! I didn’t realize there was a private notes section. That could be really useful.

  • Vasilly July 24, 2013, 11:33 am

    I primarily use Goodreads for my tbr list. I often use Amazon’s wish list function when I’m close to buying a book. I don’t worry about wondering why a book is on my list; I usually remember the reason or read the synopsis again. Maybe you should combine your “want to buy” lists on Amazon and B&N and put it on Goodreads? That way you don’t have to go to several places, trying to figure out what to read next. For the general list of what to read that’s on Amazon, can you combine that with the same list on GR too?

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:18 pm

      I think the first step is settling on Amazon or B&N and consolidating those lists — there’s no reason to have them in both places.

  • Heather July 24, 2013, 12:14 pm

    I find myself in a similar position. Goodreads is my ultimate goto for reference. I do try to add notes saying who recommended a particular book, but I don’t sweat it. On Goodreads, the ones I want to read sooner, I change their position on the list and put them between 1-20.

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:19 pm

      That’s smart too! I haven’t spent enough time with Goodreads to know all of those extra features.

      • Care July 25, 2013, 10:08 pm

        I do the same thing – up the position # for books I want to get to sooner than later and I often drop the link (if blog review) right in the notes – I don’t care if private or not. There is also a WHO REC’d field…

        Plus categories, I have created lists from which categories I’ve assigned a book so I can see, for example, any books that would be good for a book-menage.

        The goodreads app also has a scanner feature that has come in handy more than I thought it would.

  • Andi @ Estella's Revenge July 24, 2013, 2:19 pm

    I just use Goodreads. I had lists spread around everywhere, but I’ve gotten much better a popping over there and adding books to my Want to Read. I periodically go through and cull from that list as well when the whim passes.

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:20 pm

      The Goodreads mobile app is decent — that’s primarily what I end up using since I can just update books I’ve finished right from my phone. I

  • Brooks July 24, 2013, 2:22 pm

    I use a Google Spreadsheet to track everything.

    I have a tab for Want To Read which lists books I’m interested in, where I heard about it and why.

    I have a tab for books I’ve agreed to read for review. It lists contact info, when it needs to be finished, etc.

    Finally, I have a tab for books I’ve bought that I haven’t read yet. It’s so easy for an ebook to just get “lost” among the other ebooks and the way that I organize my bookshelves makes it easy to forget what’s been read and what hasn’t. So I keep a list.

    Books I finish go into GoodReads and get crossed off my TBR spreadsheet 🙂

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:20 pm

      That sounds great! I have a spreadsheet with review copies on it, but I didn’t really think about adding a tab for books I want to read. That’d be really easy.

  • Meg July 24, 2013, 2:28 pm

    What if you create a Google spreadsheet with your favorites? Google Drive is downloadable as an app, and that’s how I’m keeping track of the ten-thousand-and-one things associated with my wedding. I can see a Google spreadsheet or doc working well for tracking your TBR, and it would allow you space to note who recommended it, why you were interested, etc.!

    As for tracking my own TBR, I largely don’t. I do have a pretty hefty “want to read” section on Goodreads and occasionally add books to my Amazon cart under “save for later” if I really, really want them, but mostly books just kind of . . . appear? I don’t know. That sounds crazy! But either they arrive as review copies, I buy them myself at Books-a-Million or I’m given them as gifts. For books that sound awesome, I typically just add them on Goodreads and eventually circle back to them when I need to hit that $25 limit for free shipping on Amazon!

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:21 pm

      I think a Google spreadsheet would work really well — it’d be accessible everywhere, easy to update and easy to sort and organize when I need to pick a book.

      I largely forget about my lists, at the moment, except when I’m doing the same thing on Amazon 🙂 But I’d still love to have a better handle on it.

  • Jeane July 24, 2013, 4:03 pm

    I have two lists, both maintained on my blog. One is just a separate page, listing the books more or less alphabetically in genre and subject groupings. More recently I’ve starting making TBR posts, which list the books as I find them, every few weeks or so. I can pull those all up together by the “TBR Additions” tag I’ve given them. In both cases, there’s a link to the blog post that made me want to read the book (if that’s how I found the title) and also both lists are sorted according to whether or not the book is at my public library. That’s about as organized as I get!

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:22 pm

      That’s an interesting idea! I love when people to TBR Additions posts, but I’m too lazy to get into the habit of doing that myself. That sounds really convenient though.

  • Shannon @ River City Reading July 24, 2013, 4:51 pm

    I mostly use GoodReads (for remembering authors), but I tend to have a pretty good memory for titles. I do keep a short, written list of the order I’d like to read my next few, but that’s not always the way things go!

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:23 pm

      I’m terrible at remember titles… they just slip out of my head if I don’t have them tracked somewhere.

  • Christy July 24, 2013, 4:55 pm

    Like others, I keep track of my to-read list on Goodreads. There’s a field for “recommended by” and I put the name of the blogger (or friend/family member) who recommeded it. I’ve customized my to-read list so that the recommender field is displayed as part of the list, which means I can sort by it as well. I have over 1,000 books on my to-read list, so it’s something I browse through rather than order in any particular way. I still do have a handwritten list in a little notebook somewhere from my pre-Goodreads days which I still refer to sometimes.

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:23 pm

      More Goodreads features I didn’t know about! Thanks!

  • Teresa July 24, 2013, 5:40 pm

    I used to keep my list at Goodreads, and I do still have a list of 1000+ TBR books there, sometimes with the name of the person who recommended it listed in the “recommended by” field, but I find the long list to be unwieldy, and there’s no good way to see that information at a glance. These days, I keep a short list of books I want to read soon at the library website and mostly rely on my brain to remind me of others. I’m just not adding books to any list unless I intend to read them soon.

    I would like to have a list on my phone of books my library doesn’t carry for when I go to book sales and such. I have those books tagged on Goodreads and tried to use it at a book sale recently, but it was a pain to scroll through.

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:24 pm

      That’s also a good strategy — just cut back on the lists 🙂 I’ve tried to use Goodreads in similar situations and it didn’t work very well, especially if the connection is slow.

  • I don’t have a fantastic way of keeping track of the books I want to read (I kind of just keep a list as a page on my blog, and then I can check it if I’m at the library trying to figure out what to check out). I’m very conservative about what books I’ll buy, so that list is fairly short, and I keep it in a Word document in DropBox. Not helpful suggestions, I’m afraid!

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:25 pm

      No, these are helpful! I don’t use Dropbox much, but I live in Google Docs and I think a similar list or spreadsheet could work well for me.

  • Tanya Patrice July 24, 2013, 8:30 pm

    Like most other people said, I track on Goodreads, but it doesn’t solve the problem of remembering why I decided to read a certain book. Lately, I’ve been using Evernote Clearly (browser app) to save “lists” to Evernote (which I use everyday as my blogging calendar). So when I come across an interesting list (like Stephen King’s best books of 2012 on Omnivoracious), I save it there. Now I need to transition to actually reading the books on these lists in a timely manner!

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:26 pm

      I save lists like that in Pocket (similar idea, I think), but I am terrible and remembering they are there. Organizing my saved articles is an entirely different problem!

  • shannon July 24, 2013, 11:35 pm

    I use Shelfari because along with sharing the info, it also enable me to export the list. So I always have a back up excel on my PC…just in case. And, you can add the widgets to you blog.

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:26 pm

      I haven’t thought about Shelfari in ages! It seems like that one fell away when Goodreads got popular…

  • Allison @ The Book Wheel July 25, 2013, 12:33 am

    I use Goodreads to keep them in a list, but I have a spreadsheet that I add my galleys to. Since they expire, I have them in order of most recent expiration and then, when I have ‘free time’ I poke back on Goodreads. But I don’t bother putting my galleys on Goodreads in my TBR list. Make sense?

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:27 pm

      I have a galley spreadsheet too, but I’ve been sort of lazy about keeping it updated lately. And yeah, I tend to think of galleys outside my other lists, so I wouldn’t add them to a more general TBR list either.

  • taming July 25, 2013, 12:34 am

    I use Pinterest. Because I create the pin from the review or sales page for the book, clicking through reminds me why I thought the book would be of interest. I can check Pinterest from my computer, phone, and tablet.

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:27 pm

      That is so smart! I should think about that because it would be really easy.

  • Penelope July 25, 2013, 4:48 am

    Sounds like a great idea for an app!!!

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:27 pm

      I wish I were smart and could make apps. I have so many ideas 🙂

  • Julie Merilatt July 25, 2013, 8:23 am

    I would have to agree that GoodReads is the best because of it’s notes section and the sortability. If I know I’m going book shopping, I create a list based on my GR wishlist (tagged) because I’d rather shop with a paper list than trying to browse while searching my phone…

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:28 pm

      Shopping while browsing on a phone is a pain. I hate that it constantly turns off and you have to keep messing with it. I do still love a paper list.

  • Helen @ My Novel Opinion July 25, 2013, 9:46 am

    Like most others I use Goodreads. I also keep an Amazon wishlist for ones I want to own and share this periodically with family so that they get ideas for gifts. For books I own and for galleys I keep a spreadsheet in order of publication date. I find this handy for when I do my reviews as I keep a list of pages, source, publisher, my rating and a Goodreads link. So far I’ve found that this works fine for me, but my list is growing exponentially so I might need to rethink my process sooner rather than later.

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:29 pm

      That’s part of the appeal of the Amazon list too — I can share it with my family for present ideas (which I always get asked about). I like the info in your galley spreadsheet — I may add some of those to mine too.

  • Susan in TX July 25, 2013, 9:54 am

    Are you able to access your blog from your phone? I added a “To Consider” page on my blog where I list books that I want to be on the lookout for. I have the month/year it was added to the list, and I write myself a little note about where I heard of it/why I want to look for it. To help myself avoid duplicate purchases, I try to go back to that list after I acquire new books and put a strikethrough through the titles I’ve picked up. I don’t delete it altogether so that after I’ve read it I can go back to see “where was it again I heard about this?” (My brain needs LOTS of extra help.)

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:29 pm

      I can through the Wordpress app, but it’s a little bit clumsy sometimes (and hard to do formatting). That sounds like a good system though.

  • Nikki Steele July 25, 2013, 11:50 am

    I have two notes on my Evernote that track Fiction and Nonfiction TBR. It allows me to keep them all in one place, easily allows to make quick comments, and I can access while at work or out on my phone.

    Often though, I run into the same problem with not remembering exactly why I have a book on my list. I think at that point, the TBR list just sometimes needs a spring cleaning/organizing as well to make sure it only contains really relevant books that you’re going to read.

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:30 pm

      I sort of wish that at the moment I was starting to move life to the cloud, I’d started in Evernote rather than Google Docs. At this point I’m so in there it seems like a pain to switch, but Evernote is such a lovely app/program. #sillyproblems.

      I agree with you on the second point — even a TBR list needs pruning once in awhile. I delete out of my Amazon list all the time.

      • Tanya Patrice July 26, 2013, 8:47 am

        I actually think it’s easier with Evernote and Clearly (browser app). When I come across a book recommendation online (or a list of books) that inspires me to try the book, I save it Evernote via Clearly. The entire post is saved with the link.

  • Jennifer July 25, 2013, 1:14 pm

    I have a wish list on Goodreads. I’ve named it “To request” since most of the books I read are from the library. (Until I started blogging that is, now I’m drowning in them from all sorts of sources) Other than that I don’t keep track of my tbr pile.

    UNLESS they are review books/Netgalley books. I have a Google spreadsheet for those so I can easily see the publication dates and/or archive dates. (Thanks to Monika for the spreadsheet lessons! http://www.lovelybookshelf.com/2013/06/staying-organized-with-spreadsheets.html )

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:31 pm

      I do Google spreadsheets for galleys too. That seems to be working out, provided I stay on top of updating it. I’ll have to look more at Goodreads lists and see how those work.

  • Marie July 25, 2013, 8:06 pm

    I realized yesterday that I could create new lists in Goodreads, in addition to thd “Read” and “To Read” lists. My “To Read” list was getting too long and confusing. Now I have a TBR list of books I already own, a TBR Non-fiction list, and a TBR wish list.
    I also keep a journal about books, mostly lists, including TBR’s and what I’ve read this year, as well as the occasional “Top (enter number here) (enter genre here) Books to Read Before You Die” list (I’m sure you know the type)
    Really it just comes down to me loving books, lists, journals, writing things out by hand, and having way too much free time as a teacher on Summer Break. 🙂

    • Kim July 25, 2013, 8:32 pm

      I love a good notebook too. I had one of those with books in it, but I kept forgetting it or forgetting to keep it updated. I didn’t know about new lists — I’ll have to investigate that!

  • Care July 25, 2013, 10:13 pm

    In the olden days, I used an address book and would write down titles I wanted to read alphabetically (sometimes author) and when I got around to reading it, I would cross it out and add the date.

    I wonder where the book is …. somewhere around here, I’m sure.

    • Kim July 28, 2013, 7:51 pm

      I like the idea of an address book. I had a Moleskine notebook I was going to use to keep track of books like that, but a paper system didn’t seem to work for me — it was never around when I wanted to add a book.

  • Biblibio July 26, 2013, 2:44 am

    Even though I personally don’t keep a list of books I want to read (I used to have a low-tech Excel file, except once I passed four-hundred books I realized I might need to change things a bit. I opted to chuck the list altogether and haven’t looked back since.), it seems like the Goodreads option of adding private notes is the best approach. Or a spreadsheet. I quite like spreadsheets, with a column for “recommendation source”, “book source” (if you already own it), publication dates, and just about anything else you can imagine…

    • Kim July 28, 2013, 7:52 pm

      I think a spreadsheet is probably going to be the way to go, then I can just save the information I want rather than try to find a system that does all of it.

  • Charlie July 26, 2013, 5:37 am

    I’m awful. I have a TBR pile of books, a short list of ones to get from the shop, and then a ton of bookmarks of various reviews that I really should sort out. So I like to pretend that it’s just the short list which currently has three books on it, and the pile that looks particularly modest at the moment. In summary, I have notes but am disorganised (and I suppose because there are so many I actually favour the idea of forgetting some exist).

    • Kim July 28, 2013, 7:52 pm

      I don’t think that’s terrible — seems like a reasonable system to me!

  • Aarti July 27, 2013, 1:00 am

    I have all my wish list books on Amazon but it is not ideal as the list is not searchable. I should move it to something else but I don’t want to move it to LibraryThing as that is strictly comprised of books that I already OWN and have to read or books that I have read since I started cataloging. I could probably do GoodReads, but I am just too lazy to move the list from one place to another…

    • Kim July 28, 2013, 7:52 pm

      That’s true, once a book is on an Amazon list it’s hard to find again. I want to keep LT for the books I own too, but haven’t been very good at keeping it up so far.

  • Bryan G. Robinson July 27, 2013, 8:43 am

    Right now I’m using Booklikes for my books. It seems to be simple…even simpler, but unfortunately without an Android app (so far and probably ever sadly) is listography. Super simple, but without Android app, it’s becoming a dealbreaker for me.

    • Kim July 28, 2013, 7:53 pm

      I saw you mention Listography before and I was really excited, but without an Android app it’s basically useless for me.

  • Jennifer July 27, 2013, 7:09 pm

    If you find an answer to this one, please let me know. I’ve experimented with different methods. At first, I tried to keep a written list but that never really worked. Then I tried to keep a list on evernote where I would link to the reviews where I read about the book. This quickly got disorganized and difficult to navigate.

    Right now I just keep two lists: one on Amazon and on on Goodreads. However, I understand your frustration with both of these.

    • Kim July 28, 2013, 7:54 pm

      Like someone mentioned, I think a good TBR list needs to be continually culled and organized, no matter what method — without that, it’s just gets unruly.

  • Florinda July 28, 2013, 5:36 pm

    Keeping my book wish list on Pinterest has worked really well for me-it’s actually the only use I have for Pinterest at all, to be honest. I can’t say it’s all that easy to organize the pins ON the list board, but I have the app on my phone, and it’s very easy to pull up the board and skim it when I’m in a bookstore.

    • Kim July 28, 2013, 7:54 pm

      The Pinterest app is really good, I can see that being pretty effective, at least for remembering why you were interested in a book.