Why I Document Every Book I Read

When I turned 30 a year ago, I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of 30 things I’d like to accomplish during the year. Some of the things on the list included,

  • Go ice skating
  • See a movie at the drive in theatre
  • Finally see a Raptors games

… and because I’m such a book lover, I had to include a book goal. So I challenged myself by setting a goal to read 75 books in my 30th year. Since I typically read about 70 books a year, I thought that this goal would challenge me, but not break me (which to me, was very important). So I created a folder on my GoodReads account called, 30 while 30 Reading Challenge (add me as a friend, if we’re not already pals) and I slowly plugged away at adding each book I read from November 18, 2013 to November 18, 2014.

I’m happy to report that not only did I go figure skating and see a Raptors game, but I read 85 books in my 30th year! So, yes, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. But the reason I’m sharing this dorky/bookish achievement with you is that I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I categorized my year of reading. It’s now time for a confession (although it’s pretty obvious if you’re an avid visitor to this blog), I really like organization. I don’t know when this happened, I was not like this as a child, but I somehow operate better when there are lists, goals and spreadsheets. They give me a sense of purpose and in this case, it allows me to reflect of a time in my life when there were a lot of changes, development and achievements. Looking back at this list allows me to recapture experiences that happened while I was reading a particular book.

For example, when I see My Salinger Year on this list, I  immediately travel back to the summer, because I was reading this memoir when I went home this summer to say goodbye to my childhood home. Every morning I’d wake up and do a 5km walk around the neighbourhood that helped raise me and then I’d go home to read a little bit of Joanna Rakoff’s memoir about moving out on her own and starting her career in agency IMG_8157publishing. The similarities are outstanding, I know. But from now on, every time I see that book, it will always remind me of my childhood bedroom and those early morning walks.

I’ll always associate The Vacationers by Emma Straub as the book that I read in the park one afternoon while my friend and I sipped on warm beer and ate cucumber, tomato and avocado sandwiches.

Having this list of 85 books not only helps me reconnect with feelings and memories of reading in my thirties, but it helps me remember the books that had an impact on my mind and development. Woah! I feel like I’m getting pretty deep right now. What I guess I’m trying to say is document your reading. It’s the most rewarding way to reflect on all those little details and experiences that you might not otherwise remember.

Now my question to you book lovers, do YOU make notes of the books you read throughout the years? Do you feel it’s important? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please take the time to leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond.

Happy Reading ~


20 thoughts on “Why I Document Every Book I Read

  1. Naomi says:

    I’ve always kept a list of the books I’ve read (since about grade 8). I could never stop now! I don’t make notes, but I do have my own rating system, which isn’t the best since I came up with it when I was 13, but it works for me. I often look back at all the books I’ve read over the years, and, although I don’t remember them all, I do remember so many and what stage of my life I read them in.

    I love your “30 things when you turn 30” idea. I wanted to do the same this year when I turned 40 (it seemed like a big one), but I couldn’t even come up with 40 things, let alone have time to do them. Maybe I’ll try again at 50. That gives me 10 years to come up with my list! 🙂

    • LR says:

      Naomi – it’s SO cool that you’ve been recording all your books since you were a teen! That list must be such a cherished list. I also thoroughly enjoy that you have a rating system. I hope you blog about that sometime, that would be cool to read.

      Oh and I highly recommend creating a list of things you want to accomplish. It doesn’t need to be anything crazy (I had “bake for my colleagues” as one thing), but it just provides a fun list to remind you to partake in all the little things and work towards some of the big things!

      • Naomi says:

        That does sound like a good idea. There are so many things I think it would be fun to do that aren’t a big deal, but I just never seem to get around to them. A visual would probably help with that. As for blogging about my rating system, I think I would be too embarrassed. 🙂

  2. Natalie @ Browsing Bookshelves says:

    Yay! Congrats at finishing your challenge! I love keeping track of my books too! Looking back at everything you have read in a year really does bring up some nostalgic memories from where/when you were reading. I use the Goodreads challenge as a way of keeping track of everything I read in a year, but I like your idea of creating a shelf for it too!

    • LR says:

      Thanks Natalie – I don’t know what I’d do without Goodreads to track them all. I mean, I guess I could write them all down, but I’m sure I’d lose that list after awhile, so I’m eternally thankful for Goodreads. I never do the GR challenge, but maybe that’s a fun goal for 2015!

  3. The Paperback Princess says:

    My husband had been bugging me to go ice skating for years. We finally did in January and I ended up taking a spectacular fall. I couldn’t walk properly for days and still have issues with the one knee. I’m glad you survived the experience!

    Of COURSE I keep track of what I read. I started in 2011 and it is the best thing ever. I set a goal of about 75 every year because like you, I don’t want it to impede my reading. I keep a list on Goodreads, on my blog, in my agenda, on the 50bookpledge site, I even have a book journal that I used until I filled it. I’m thinking about moving to just a blank book to keep track of them all. I love looking back and seeing what I’ve read and it totally evokes memories of the reading experience I had.

    I read My Salinger Year on Friday. I started on the bus in the morning and finished it before bed. Loved it.

    • LR says:

      So sorry to hear about your ice skating fall – that sucks and sounds super painful! I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one that documents their reading. It seems that everyone really likes using Goodreads as their documenting tool, but your right about using the blog as a tool to remember what you read as well. I hardly ever go back and look at what I’ve written on here (which is weird), but it’s another way I can remember how a book made me think or feel.

      So glad to hear you love My Salinger Year as much as I did – it was so good. AND the part with Judy Blume!? So cool.

      • The Paperback Princess says:

        It was the worst! And so embarassing. It’s the fear! The whole time I was scared I would fall and I did. When I used to skate as a kid, I had no fear!

        I love going back to my blog and re-reading what I wrote hahahaha. Sometimes I cringe and sometimes I’m like “hey that wasn’t terrible!”

        The part with Judy Blume was SO COOL. I don’t know how she managed to stay as calm and collected as she did.

  4. practically stylish (@practicalstyl) says:

    I really wish that I had kept a list of the books I read as a kid. Since I got so many of the books from the library, I don’t have any record of what they were. The things I remember about those books are not necessarily helpful keywords when trying to figure out the title/author.

  5. kmn04books says:

    First of all, congratulations on meeting your goal and happy belated birthday! I document the books I read all year on Goodreads (though this is my first year doing it!). I love it because I can be forgetful and so it’s a great reminder for blog purposes but, like you said, it’s a nice list to look back and reflect on. I’m enjoying it so much that I’m contemplating documenting next year’s reads in an actual journal!

    • LR says:

      Thanks Karen! I’m such a huge fan of the Goodreads method – it’s so convenient, but I like the idea of keeping a journal would be fun too!

  6. chowmeyow says:

    Happy birthday and cheers to a great reading year! I just turned 30 in September, I love the idea of tracking what books you read during your age year, not just the calendar year. I am inspired to do the same!

    I can’t even fathom NOT logging every book read. It’s not in my nature. I guess maybe some people aren’t concerned with their reading stats of how much they read, but I like to have a list of the titles I’ve read just to help my own memory.

    • LR says:

      Thanks for the bday wishes and a Happy Belated Birthday to you! Definitely think about tracking your years worth of books during your 30th year – it was so much fun!

  7. Iphios says:

    I do list the books I have read each year. As an avid reader for so many years I’ve realize that a book comes to me for a reason. Newly bought books don’t necessarily end up being read immediately. I often find myself scanning my TBR or book I had abandoned at one point in my life and picking up another time. And the reading experience almost always leaves me saying “ah, i was meant to read it.” The list of books then becomes almost an informal biography of my life. If i were to pile up the books i have read each year, I would start to recall the challenge, the fight and the victories of that year. In many ways my list of books are a concrete evidences of my own personal journey as both reader and a person.

    • LR says:

      “An informal biography of my life” — what a lovely way to look at it. It makes for a really fun way to look back on your journey! Thanks for leaving a comment.

  8. lauratfrey says:

    One of my biggest regrets is that I never documented anything until I found an app on Facebook, iRead or weRead or something, and eventually moved over to Goodreads. That app on FB is gone now and I can’t access the data, so there’s a couple years lost, too! I wish I could remember what I read at significant times of my life when I was younger.

    I’m kind of getting bored of Goodreads too, though. I like it for the stats, but I don’t find there’s much interaction on there; if I’m just using it to track, I want to do it more on my own terms. A pox on their lack of half stars!!

  9. Tricia says:

    I completely agree! I would add that, as a voracious reader, I lose track of what I’ve read! When people ask me for recommendations, I often blank because there are too many options. Having a list (or better yet, a blog with reviews!) helps me remember and better suggest books for people looking for something new to read.

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