Book Records

I started keeping a list of every book I read when I was 19. And I still keep it. I put down the author, the title, the date read, my personal rating, and a brief description. I read so much that I often need to consult the list to see if I already read something by this author. Especially since I have a horrid memory for names and titles.

At the end of each year, I reread my list of books for that year and remember how I read them and what was happening in my life then. Recently, I reread my list for 2009, the year I started working at my current school and got married. The list brought everything back so vividly! It’s like having a diary of your intellectual and emotional life.

Strangely, even though I never remember the plots or the characters of the book I read, I have a prodigious memory for stuff I read for work. Earlier this week I needed a critical source that I used for my Master’s dissertation in 2003. I immediately remembered what it said, how I quoted it, and where it was in my files.

Do you keep a record of what you read?

9 thoughts on “Book Records”

  1. No, and I’m not as big a reader, I read articles and poems but fewer whole books. But I’m reading a book right now which is Susan Sontag’s diaries from youth, and she kept a list of books read. It’s fascinating and it indicates one should keep a list!

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    1. Have you tried audiobooks? I could never understand their purpose before having a child as I read very fast and listening is so slow in comparison. Now it is so much more difficult to find the time to read, but I am able to listen to audiobooks in bits and pieces when doing other things.

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      1. Same here! I particularly like it when I have both a paper or Kindle version and an audio version, which lets me switch between them. This way I don’t have to interrupt my reading when I get into the car.

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        1. I can’t do them! I have a great deal of trouble staying focused, and I generally lose the thread. And it’s way harder to go back and relisten to a passage than reread it.

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      2. I love audiobooks! There is a guy on librivox who reads Belloc’s essays in just the right droll sort of way. I have listened to all of them, and others.

        The problem is that I can only listen to audiobooks in the car. At home, I can’t listen to anything because then I can’t hear what the kids are getting into (and this is important!). And I do not really spend that much time in the car (thank goodness!), so it is a very limited medium. There are always so many more things I want to read than I have driving time to listen to!

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  2. I’ve been keeping a list since 2011, just titles, dates read and a rating of 1 to 5. Generally I have an excellent memory for plot and character and I maintain the list for the pleasure of list-making more than anything else. I was just thinking about Stoner since you wrote about it on the blog. I can see that I read it in July of 2013, and I remember that it was about a midwestern college professor in an unhappy marriage and that I loved it. But beyond that, the subjective impression it left on me is lost. I wish I recorded why I liked it so much. And what was I doing in July 2013? I have no idea.

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  3. Yes. I have kept a list of books read since Jan. 1974. I’ve also kept a list of books purchased since mid-1986. The frist list has been useful many times over the years. Just last month I added up the cost of all those books. It came to a lot, but I was pleased to find the average cost was quite a bit lower than I had estimated.

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