February 13th, 2013
It’s the plight of voracious readers everywhere. I love the way my mom puts it: “Now I know why I was so drawn to this book. Turns out I’ve read it before!” Lucky is the reader who realizes this before hitting the 100-page mark. I’ve seen how people keep track of the books they’ve read or plan to read: backs of receipts, napkins, messy notebooks filled with newspaper articles, post-it notes, and illegible writing.
But take heart, my friends! There are a number of free websites that give you the ability to track your reading habits, write reviews, and see the books and reviews of other users (including friends). Most will link up to Facebook or Twitter, too. If you’d rather not be social, mark your profile as private. No one will know how much you loved that book about crime-fighting teen zombies that fall in love under tragic circumstances. I made that plot up, but I think I may be on to something.
GoodReads uses the concept of virtual bookshelves. Many users opt to keep it simple by creating only a “read” and “to-read” shelf, but you can get as sophisticated and creative as you’d like. For instance, create a bookshelf entitled “science-fiction” to see what you’ve read in that category, or create a bookshelf entitled “give-me-those-hours-back-plz” to classify books that made you wish you were illiterate. (Bonus feature: link your account to the library catalog to see if that book you discovered is available!) GoodReads also has Android and iPhone/iPad apps available, making accessing your booklists a breeze when you visit the library.
Like GoodReads, LibraryThing boasts a large community of users and customizable ways of tracking your reading. While the site has a messy interface, their tagging features and Suggester tool is pretty fun to use and makes it easy to find new books.
Arguably the most visual of the three, Shelfari also uses virtual bookshelves. The strength of this site is that you can view a lot of information about a book, including a detailed character list, quotes, themes, symbolism, and more.
Books & Authors
Unlike the services mentioned above, Books & Authors is not a website with built-in social functionality. Instead, B&A is a database you have free access to through your library card. B&A is primarily used to find your next great read. There are tools to find books with a certain subject matter, character, time period, location, and more. Tracking your reading through this database is private by design, and our catalog is linked to it automatically.
How do YOU track your reading?