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Resolved: Keep A Reading List

American are inveterate list makers.  We routinely make grocery lists, to-do lists.  Magazines get our attention with “5 Luscious Desserts that Burn Fat and Help You Lose 10 Pounds” or “7 Top-Performing Investment Funds”.  We love Letterman’s Top Ten lists of whatever.  Librarians and readers eagerly look forward to the many versions of the Best Books of the Year.  Here’s another idea to add to the lists you maintain: record the books you read for a year.

It’s a deceptively simple idea, but the benefits and pleasures can be profound.  At the end of the year, or anytime along the way, you will be able to track your reading activity and realize a sense of accomplishment.  You can reflect on what you’ve enjoyed, learned, how you’ve changed.  Your list will help you to recall the paths your life has taken, the events occurring as you read particular books.  You will be able to mine your list for ideas that may be useful in school or work or community service projects

How to Make a List
If you like the simplicity of writing, the texture of paper and the sensation of putting pen to paper, get a notebook or journal and record the date you finished the book, the author and title.  That’s it.  You can add notes if you like, perhaps for category (fiction, nonfiction, mystery, western, biography), maybe a sentence summary, maybe a quote you liked.

If you like the ability to search by various keys, for instance, author or title, create a spreadsheet in Excel or other software.  Keep it simple with date, author, and title, or if you want to track more details, add fields for publication date, your ratings, words to look up, phrases you’d like to remember, anything that strikes your fancy.

Perhaps, like many these days, you would like to keep your list online.  Online lists have the advantage of being accessible from any computer anywhere, they can be enhanced by features of the online site, and they can be shared and discussed with others.  Here are some mostly free examples:

LibraryThing ( is the most popular of the book listing offerings.  You can create a catalog of books using Amazon or the Library of Congress or other libraries for the information in your own database.  You can add descriptive tags (mystery, Agatha Award, Alex Cross, Mary’s 2010 Reading List) to help categorize your books as you like.  You can also find other readers who have tastes similar to yours and engage in a discussion with them if you choose.  LibraryThing is free to track up to 200 books.  If you want to catalog more, there is a nominal one-time charge.

At, see what your friends are reading, keep track of what you've read and what you'd like to read, get book recommendations from people you know, form a book club, answer book trivia, and collect your favorite quotes.  You can see on the home page the most read books of the week (“The Girl Who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson is currently the most read), best books ever, best books of the century, best young adult books, worst books of all time.

With Shelfari (, you can put your books on a shelf or in a list for posting on a blog.  This site compiles the highest rated, most reviewed, and most comments added titles.

Books Well Read
At, you can create a journal of books you read, with notes or whatever you want to record.  You may choose to share your entries or keep them private.  And you can post more than one entry per book.

What to Read
Read what you like.  Read what interests you.  Read to satisfy your curiosity.  Read to stretch your imagination and broaden your horizons.  What are you in the mood for?  If you can tell us that, we can help you find something satisfying to read.  For ideas, visit us at or call 988-2541.  Happy reading while you keep that list growing!

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Online collection of animated, talking picture books to encourage reading in children.


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