my current reading system

November 3, 2009

Recently while adding yet another handful of DVDs to my insanely long Netflix Queue (currently 167), I thought to myself, “why don’t they have Netflix, but for books and somehow all free?” This in addition to the frustrating feeling I get sometimes of remembering a book I read once, but can not remembering anything more than a fragment of the plot, has led up to my current plan for book reading.

First I use Goodreads, which is one of those free social networking sites, but this one is all about books.  While I do have some friends on it, I don’t really use the social part of it, and instead focus on adding books I know I have read, rating them and adding books I want to read to my “to-read” list.

Goodreads List

This lets you both add books that you want to read and books that you have already read.  So just by updating this, I generate a list of all the books I have read and keep track of all the good book recommendations I get.

Now to really take this to the Netflix level, I needed a way to get these books delivered to me in a regular pattern.  And thankfully someone very long ago came up with the idea of the public library and someone (also probably very long ago) came up with the idea of the holds list.  Now I know the holds list can sometimes have the reputation as being slow and archaic, but actually I love my library’s hold system!  While waiting for the newest bestseller can be like watching paint dry, most books arrive to my closest branch within a week or so.

So to make this all work, when I am close to finishing a current book, or just looking for something new to start, I check Goodreads and add a book or two from there to my holds list at the Evanston Public Library.  And boom, books appear out of nowhere (or more specifically the South Branch, which is only 5 blocks or so away from my house) and I can read and renew at my own pace.

How about the rest of you?  Do you all have systems for keeping track of what books you read?  Or do you have any recomendations for my To-Read list?

UPDATE: Turns out that the Hayward Public Library system in California is about to impliment their very own Netflix version of checkouts.  No fines, but you pay a monthly fee – http://www.insidebayarea.com/dailyreview/localnews/ci_13734221.



  1. Guess what, I keep my list in a Word document and Mom keeps her list in a spreadsheet. A bit of role reversal here.
    Your method sounds better than either of ours.

  2. I actually just added goodreads yesterday. And am also a superfan of the library hold system.

  3. I buy mine from BWB 🙂 as long as I can get it used for 5ish dollars. I’ve gotten alot of gift certificates from there. I currently have almost a whole shelf of “to reads”… But I seem to pick of new ones randomly. I just finished Dune and I think I’m going to read World War Z next.

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