Book Cataloguing

Friday, July 25, 2014


Bring up book cataloguing with any giant book nerd (myself included) and you know you are about to get an earful. We each have our own system for tracking what books we’ve read and what we own. For some people it’s meticulous, others have are a bit more sporadic. For me it boils down to one word: LibraryThing.
I started my profile in 2006 and never looked back. Up to that point I’d used random collections of notebooks to write down what I was reading. There was no real way to track it and I still couldn’t tell you all the books I read in the years leading up to 2006. That year I was in the midst of graduating from college and starting my first job, so half of my books were in storage.
My best friend sent me a link to LibraryThing and within minutes I’d bought a lifetime membership (only $25, but that was a lot for me at that point!) and I started adding in my books. I even went to my Dad’s house and went through my boxes of books in his attic to write everything down to enter into LT. I got so caught up in what I was doing that I took a wrong step and fell through the ceiling.
Now, eight years later I have 2,979 listed in my library. This includes everything including categories like books I’ve “read but do not own” to books I “own but haven’t read.” I have dozens of tags that help me find what I’m looking for in a second. When I buy a book or start reading a new book I immediately add it into the system. It is second nature at this point and new books aren’t shelved in my home until they are in LT.
If I’m reading it I label it with the current month and year and note whether or not I own it. I can go back and see exactly home many books I’ve read each year and which months are better reading months for me. I also have tags for specific genres, graphic novels, poetry, nonfiction, etc. I can search through all of the nonfiction books I’ve read to give someone a recommendation when requested. The system also allows you to add in your own reviews, (I currently have 782 reviews up) and ratings. Unlike Goodreads you are allowed to use half stars, which I absolutely LOVE!
LibraryThing is also essential for helping me keep track of what’s on my kindle. Sometimes I buy a $1.99 daily deal and forget about it, but I always add it into LT and so I can check later and see that I own it. I find myself at used bookstores all the time checking LT on my phone to see if I already own a copy of a book that’s caught my eye. It’s saved me from making quite a few duplicate purchases.
I’m a huge fan of LT. I’ve tried Goodreads and just haven’t been a fan so far. I like seeing what my friends are reading, but I hate the dozens of friend requests I get from authors pushing their books. If you’ve never checked it out, I’d recommend at least stopping by LT to see if it’s a good fit for you.
How do you all track what you read and own?
p.s. Just in case anyone is wondering, I'm not getting anything for recommending LT, I just love their system.


Ellie said...

Given that I'm also a huge book nerd, I've never actually tracked my reading until I started blogging. I just keep a list on a separate page of my blog now so I have a record for last year and this year. Prior to 2013, I have no idea how many books I've read! I'll have to have a look at Library Thing.

Lisa said...

Admitting this in public will mark me as a giant book nerd, but I have a card catalogue system. I have actually joined LibraryThing,but I only have a few books entered so far.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I haven't tried LT. I used to track with an Excel spreadsheets, but now converted them to use Google docs, so I can update them at work or home easily. I have on doc for eBooks and another for physical books. I also used Goodreads, but admit to mostly using it for current reads, what I read and books I want to read (not what I own).

Tracking books could be a fulltime job for many of us LOL

Annabel said...

This could be a dangerous thing for me! I entered everything I owned into Goodreads at one point, but haven't updated it with books I've bought since... But I do record everything I read now, including at least a rating and usually a review! Switching over to Library Thing is tempting, but I'd spend so much time tracking books that I probably wouldn't have any time left to read!!

Jillian said...

I am not the biggest fan of goodreads' system, I feel like their search engine is so not helpful. However I've used this for years so I can't imagine switching my books to something else. I've heard great things about Librarything and kind of wish I started there!

Anonymous said...

Book nerd that I am, I love hearing about how other people catalog their reading. That is ultimately the reason I started my blog - to keep track of what I've read and what I thought of it. I also use a pen and paper to log my TBR. Neither LT or GR has ever worked for me, but I'm glad you've found a system that works for you.

o said...

I LOVE LibraryThing. I have all my books on there. Goodreads I use only for the social aspect - I add them as I read them, that's about as far as it goes.

Anonymous said...

I wish I were better organized! I can't even manage to keep Goodreads updated. I just rely on my increasingly unreliable memory (at least I've made progress with keeping my office organized!).

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Ellie - I never tracked my reading before joining LT in 2006. I know many of the books I read before then, but definitely not all of them.

Lisa - I'm drooling over here. You have a real card catalogue!!!

Diane - I use the GoogleDocs excel system to keep track of books I read each year as a backup to LT. I don't store any reviews that way though.

Annabel Krantz - That was my concern with adding my books to Goodreads. I think it's hard to switch once you pick one.

Jillian - I'm glad I started with LT, but I honestly think it's worth it to switch if you don't love the other system. It's so helpful!

52booksorbust - That's definitely why I blog as well. I love the community, but it's mainly for me to track my reading and think critically about each book.

o - Yay! Another LT lover!

misfortuneofknowing - I never update my Goodreads either, but I'm really good with LT.

Anonymous said...

Since I move too often to really consider creating a physical library, I'm quite happy with GoodReads. I use it almost every day. If I had started with LT first, I might think differently but I warn everyone - do NOT try to import a goodreads library into LT. You will invite scorn, ridicule and abuse. Goodreaders are MUCH MORE friendly and forgiving.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

bkclubcare - Oh geez! I'm glad I'll never have to try that!