Here’s Some Incredibly Efficient Tips On Tracking Your Book List


A lot of people ask me how I read so many books. This is astonishing to me because I, in return, feel inadequate to answer because follow extremely well read authors like Shane Parish, Ryan Holiday, Maria Popova, and Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt is arguably the most notorious bookophile.

I have changed my literary catalog a couple of times over the years and I still cannot say I am completely satisfied. My evolution has included numerous technology platforms, most notably Goodreads, Amazon, Tumblr, and Evernote. My only advice is to find a platform that is taggable, searchable, and never runs out of space.

The three most important cataloging methods I use are:

“Want to read,” “read,” and the ever elusive “send to a friend.” Starting a “want to read” list can be dangerous. Currently, I have 315 books on my “want to read” list. In a technological world, which makes it all too easy to tag and save items on the internet, this list could be much larger, but I will not get around to most of them as it is. “Send to a friend” is a rare find in a book keeper. Most often I revert to tagging a book and then sending via email a recommendation after I read it.

How to choose a book list

There are many more people today attempting to be thought leaders and start a career in speaking, book writing, and thought creation. The number of books published every year is increasing and will only grow each year with the ease of self-publishing, flexible work schedules, etc. I have a less than scientific way of picking out books to read to allow myself some clarity in an oversaturated market.

The first thing I do is decide what I want to be doing in one month. Next, I take this amount of time to read up on a subject and maybe even have questions answered by the author or book’s following. For example, if I want to practice more in-depth marketing strategy, I will read Contagious, Brass Check, or Purple Cow. Access to Upton Sinclair is impossible and virtually the same for Seth Godin, however, researching an author you enjoy can expand your reading possibilities even further.

For example, in October I will be headed to a sherry house in Spain for a friends wedding. To prepare myself for that trip I have been researching Moorish history books, food and wine guides, and travel websites for extra research.

Finally, I’m always on the lookout for new books with old or overstated content. Nothing infuriates me more than someone releasing a book with the same material I can read from blog posts. The internet is brimming with a breadth of information which is important to utilize, however books often provide clarity on specific subjects that are otherwise too tedious to find, and sometimes offer a depth of information you cannot find on the internet.

Find those books. Read the shit out of them.

Technological bookkeepers

Why Goodreads?

This is a great way to see all three shelves at one time. I can look through recommendations, what others are reading, and most importantly, the rating of books from peers.

Why Amazon?

My ever expanding Wish List says it all. I have a constant store of books that I can save and, when the time is right, place in my cart, order, and see it in two days.

Why Tumblr?

Very little to do with actual bookkeeping except for writing my own reviews on the books. I haven’t written my own reviews yet, and if so inclined, I could accomplish this task on any other platform. I saw the Tumblr that Austin Kleon mimicked and thought it looked really nice. Maybe one day I will write my own reviews…

Why Evernote?

Like Pocket for my book lists. Whenever I see someone smarter than me, I save their “recommended books of the year” list for reference later. Also, this is where I keep pictures of books that I take with my phone in book stores, on trips, and in random situations. A few books in my notebook right now are:

Recommended by Bill Gates; The Bully Pulpit, by Doris Kearns Goodwin & Making the Modern World, by Vaclav Smil.

Recommended by Ryan Holiday: Purple Cow by Seth Godin & The Brass Check by Upton Sinclair.

Books on Sociology: Erving Goffman: “Stigma”, Pierre Bourdieu: “Homo Academicus“, Michel Foucault: “The Order of Things”

Books on business, investing, travel, food, and many, many, many others.

The importance of sharing books

Always share your books and their stories. Do not preach to others with an overlay of pretentiousness, but recommend, relate, and carry books’ messages on. The interaction between you and a book is personal and solitary, but discussion on the topics in books should be pursued afterwards.

A few more points to remember

  • Always take notes.
  • Mark up your books. They are meant to be used as a tool for learning.
  • Keep a book open. That is the only way to always be reading.
  • Never read more books than you can handle at one time.
  • Use the information you acquire in application.
  • Remember the reference section. Go down the rabbit hole.

Remember your Reader Right developed by Daniel Pennac, a French teacher, novelist and philosopher, created 10 inalienable rights of the reader.

  1. The right not to read
  2. The right to skip
  3. The right to not finish a book
  4. The right to read it again
  5. The right to read anything
  6. The right to mistake a book for real life
  7. The right to read anywhere
  8. The right to dip in
  9. The right to read out loud
  10. The right to be quiet

Go forth and read on!