Do you keep stats?

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[Story time. Skip this if you like.] When I was a kid I read like a mad man (er ... child). I never kept track of how many books or pages I read. I never worried too much (though I did a little) about the "quality" of the things I read. I. just. loved. to read. I continued to read pretty heavily even after I learned to drive, started dating, went to college, got my masters, etc. And then, around age 35, I hit a wall. Life, mostly. I had a 4 year old and a new baby and they took a lot of time, as well as building my career and what not. Around 38 or 39 I realized I had books lying half-finished or barely started all over the house. So I started being more intentional about reading. It started with joining a circle of '50-books a year' folk. Most of them with blogs. (A relatively novel thing in 2006.) And it took me a few years to get back up to 50. Then I started keeping a spreadsheet. Now I use Goodreads. I find the act of recording reads, page numbers, etc. does a few important things for me.

  1. It motivates me. I like trying to match previous highs or looking ahead and set goals for the year end.
  2. It challenges me to do less "re-reading" of old favorites. I realized early on that about 65% of my reading was just circling back to comfort reading, so now it's more like 30% and that feels a lot better/healthier to me. And I'm discovering new authors/series.
  3. It makes me slightly less apt to collect books. When I first started keeping a spreadsheet this was very true. I used to want to keep a copy of almost everything I read. As ... what ... trophies? I dunno. It's silly. But keeping a spreadsheet made me feel more free to reduce my bookshelves to just the things that would likely re-read. [At this point I feel like a psychologist has enough to diagnose me. LOL.]
  4. It helps me get perspective on my reading habits. Which months do I read more? Do I read genres by seasons of the calendar or "seasons" of life? Etc.

There's probably more, but you get the gist. I'm wondering if ...

You keep stats?

If so, why does it work for you? (If not, why it doesn't?)

Comments

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    I never used to, but at some point I became aware of the '50 books' thing and got curious - I did a rough count and figured I did read 50 books a year. I decided to keep track one year to see. To keep track, I put them in a spreadsheet and recorded the books (via reviews) on G+.

    That same year, or the one after, you posted all kinds of book stats at the end of year, and that convinced me to sign up to GoodReads for the record keeping -which is useful, but maybe not everything I want. I also liked the idea (since I was writing reviews) of letting those reach a wider audience. Writing reviews is an interesting writing exercise - I do it to (a) practice writing, and (b) to expose an audience to books I think are worth reading, or (sometimes) to steer people books I think aren't. Actually, since joining GoodReads my review-writing has gone down, because now I don't need to write the review to keep track of what I've read.

    What I really should be doing is keeping track of what I buy and comparing that to what I read. For many year I've been buying more books than I read, and they're collecting. I'm trying (not sure how successfully) to read more than I buy to reduce the backlog.

    I very much enjoy reading the physical book more than an electronic book (which I find a tasteless experence, lacking many of the sensations a physical book has). Audio books, though, are an exception - having someone read a book to you is surprising intimate, and makes up for the lack of intimacy than comes with an E-book.

    The good books I pass lend to my brothers and mother to read. If I had kids, I'd hope that the library would excite them, and it's always nice to leave something like books to people they make nice gifts. Worse comes to worst, I can sell them to help fund my retirement. Many of my books, especially the more scholarly books, have actually appreciated in value since I bought them - at least if you go by the Amazon marketplace.Someday, it might be worth going through the whole collection and documenting what I actually have.

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    I dearly wish I had a list of every book I ever read.

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    edited October 22

    @rossum, When I started my inventory, I went back as far as I could by looking through my shelves, notes, and just generally racking my memory. I know there are tons of books I have missed but I add them as they come to me. IOW, it's not too late to start! Oddly, most of the ones I'm missing now are all the high-brow stuff I read in college.

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    I've been tracking my writing for two years now, and it serves a similar purpose of motivation and flagging problematic times of year. I log most of my books at Goodreads these days, but never look at the stats. They are way too depressing!
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    @Ray_Otus Do you use library software?

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    @rossum, I used Goodreads.com. I used to use Library Thing. (I still have a lifetime license I think.) Goodreads isn't perfect, but it does have some nice features and it's easier than keeping my spreadsheet. Also, it has a data export.

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    For 2016 and 2017 I kept lists (and one sentence commentaries- I won't call them reviews) of books I'd read. I always knew I read c.50 books per year, and this confirmed that.

    This year I wasn't feeling it, so I thought if recording things was bringing me no joy, I wouldn't record. I've found I've read much less this year. I don't know if it's correlation or causation. Or most likely depression. Oh well.

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    @dr_mitch - has working on your game been part of taking you away from reading? I find that I alternate between hours spent writing and hours spent reading.

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    @Ray_Otus I've now, thanks to you, realised why I've slowed down this year. One thing I have been keeping records of is RPGs read this year. And I've read 40 so far, including both short books and rather substantial books (eg: Eclipse Phase), and skimmed a few more. I count those as a different category to novels and non-fiction, but I guess it's unsurprising I've been reading a little less of those with such a high RPG count.

    It's a project to read (not just skim) all the RPGs I have on my shelf. Though I'll admit to skimming portions even so.

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    edited October 25

    Yeah, when I record that I have read an RPG, I do my best to really read it - even the monsters and spells. And they do take a lot of energy to read.

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    @Ray_Otus said:
    Yeah, when I record that I have read an RPG, I do my best to really read it - even the monsters and spells. And they do take a lot of energy to read.

    That's because they so seldom have flavour. Now, if the spells were called "May the Eye Go Back to the Owner", "To Tie a Fly" or "You Are a Monstrous Evil" you'd read them.

    @dr_mitch Reading 40 rpgs in a year is pretty impressive!

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    Hm, I bet there's an app that can scan the UPC of a book and add it to your already-read and need-to-read lists.

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    @rossum said:
    Hm, I bet there's an app that can scan the UPC of a book and add it to your already-read and need-to-read lists.

    Goodreads has that, yes. Just give it access to your phone's camera.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    I very much enjoy reading the physical book more than an electronic book (which I find a tasteless experience, lacking many of the sensations a physical book has). Audio books, though, are an exception - having someone read a book to you is surprising intimate, and makes up for the lack of intimacy than comes with an E-book.

    This probably deserves it's own thread. I totally agree with everything in this paragraph ... and yet, I primarily read e-books.

    First let me say that I totally agree about audiobooks. Listening to a human voice is an intimate thing. Someone reading to "you" (it feels like it's to you, alone, most of the time because you are probably using headphones or are at least the only one listening) is intimate. And the quality of an actual human voice I think touches some genetic thing within us - triggers our innate needs as a social animal to connect.

    So if I agree about the joys of a physical book - and I do - why do I e-read?

    1. Visibility. It's easier on my eyes. Seriously. I can read better because I can adjust the light, text color, background color, font, font size, justification, line spacing, etc. That is the number 1 reason.

    2. Weight. Some books are too damn heavy to hold comfortably on the lap, so I either have to read them at a table or ... there's always my phone or tablet! Also, I travel a good bit and lugging around multiple books is a chore. (At the same time, there's something so comforting about a worn paperback in your bag!) I think this is a trade-off. If it weren't for eye-strain, I would probably mostly read in print and only use e-readers when I travel.

    3. Utility. I can highlight/copy quotes. I can make notes. (Sure I can do both of these things in a physical book, but there is not 'data'/exportability to it.) I can more easily share bits. I can use Whispersync to jump back and forth between the book in Audible and Kindle.

    Biggest downside? Maps, illustrations, lack of good hand-feel, no smell. And frankly I miss the status of having people see me read. I like to see people reading a book. I want to have people see me reading a book. When I am staring at a phone or tablet, that is not what they assume is happening. They probably assume I am reading the Book of Face. :)

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    @Ray_Otus Those are all great arguments for E-books. For me, personally, they don't outweigh the stuff I lose. I do have to admit that I bought a few books that are so large I might never read them! The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, for example. It didn't occur to me to check the physical size before ordering.

    And there's another reason - E-books cost way less.

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    Me, I stare at screens enough that I don't want to look at another when I want to get engrossed in a book.

    I've read a few- maybe less than 10? in my time, mostly when that was its only format. Interestingly, I feel different about RPGs. I want both the physical and the digital version of the book so I can read it at the table without screen distraction, or electronically search through it quickly when I need to find a rule.

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    I'm even worse about RPG books I REALLY like @rossum. I get the PDF so I can read it on the go. I get the hardback for my shelf. Then I want a softcover that I can mark up. :)

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    I loathe reading anything lengthly on a tablet or phone. I'm happy with reading fiction (though oddly, not non-fiction through some odd mental quirk) on my Kindle, which is 90% of the way for me to having something nice and physical and papery.

    I've never quite clicked with audiobooks, and have for the moment stopped trying.

    When it comes to RPGs, I'll sometimes buy a PDF to skim and evaluate, and buy the physical book if I then want it. But anything I'm actually using or even reading properly, I need a physical copy.

    @Apocryphal said:

    @Ray_Otus said:
    Yeah, when I record that I have read an RPG, I do my best to really read it - even the monsters and spells. And they do take a lot of energy to read.

    That's because they so seldom have flavour. Now, if the spells were called "May the Eye Go Back to the Owner", "To Tie a Fly" or "You Are a Monstrous Evil" you'd read them.

    Oh yes... :smiley:

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