Let’s Talk with Nancy J Cohen

Cataloguing Your Books
by Nancy J. Cohen

Do you mark the books you read? I never used to do so, and I easily lost track of which books I’d read. I have tons of books filling my shelves, and I may or may not have already read most of them. Somewhere along the way, I started penciling in my initials or a check mark on the title page to indicate it’s a book I’ve read.

Then Goodreads came along. Here was a place where you could keep a permanent record of what you have finished reading. And so I started reviewing books in a Word document and adding the reviews to my Goodreads account. I try to write a few lines on what the story is about and then a sentence or two with my personal opinion. Now it’s easy to search through my Word file using the “find” feature to see if it’s a book I’ve read. Or I can look on “My Books” at Goodreads.

How about cataloguing all the books in your collection? I haven’t gotten that far. But I do loosely arrange them according to genre. I know where my research texts are, my cookbooks, the Florida books, and the ones on plants and trees. So I guess you could say I use an informal method of organization.

How about you? Do you alphabetize your books? Arrange them by categories? Mark the ones you’ve read?

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  1. Thank you for all of your insightful comments. I’ve decided to award two winners. These are Margo Sue Bittner and Candace Knight. Don’t forget to enter our monthly contest from the 1st to the 18th of each month!

  2. sharon rabner says

    I have a book that I enter all the books I’ve read. If I remember to do it. I have books listed on Goodreads also. I have an area on my shelves where I put the books that I’ve read that I keep and put each author’s books together in the order they are published.

  3. Pam Morse says

    I attempt to put books together by author, but….usually don’t. I am now keeping track of what I’ve read on Goodreads, but wasn’t good at that until this year!

  4. Margo Sue Bittner says

    My books are alphabetized by author, then in order by the release date. I even number them spines so I read them (reread them) in order.

  5. I use Goodreads and Fictfact to keep track of books. Pre-smart phone, I would always forget to bring my list when I went shopping. Now at least I can search them online.

    • Yes, this is true. I use Amazon to keep track of upcoming works by putting them on my wish list. Following an author on Amazon or on Bookbub is another way to learn of new releases.

  6. I use Goodreads – that way I don’t lose track of what I have, what I’ve read, and if I liked it. LOL

    • I can’t remember when I started reviewing books I’ve read on GR, but it is a helpful catalogue. Then there are all those books on my shelves, which I can’t remember if I’ve read or not as they date before GR.

  7. tinawhittle says

    If there’s space, there’s a book in it. That’s our cataloging system. One day….

  8. Cleaning out my bookshelves, I stalled. Trying to purge them is a nightmare, but I probably don’t have enough lifetime left to read them all, or to reread them. I used to list the books I read, then realized I couldn’t remember the stories. One redemption: the golden nuggets gleaned nestle and becomes part of me.

  9. Jennifer Hansen says

    Wow I’m not that organized!! parkeremma2003 at yahoo dot com

  10. Cynthia Smith says

    I have a spreadsheet with author, title, and publication date. I also started including whether I own the book or was able to get it from the library. I also enter the publication dates of the upcoming books from my favorite authors.

  11. As for digital files and ebooks, I started putting them all in collections/folders by genre, which I also broke down into sub-categories. It was awesome….until I didn’t do it one day for the new books. One day became a month (I swear out of no where!). At the end of the month, my unfiled docs and books were everywhere. 🙁 Now it’s been about 6 months, so I feel like I need 5 assistants just to keep me organized! Hehee! However, I make sure to write a review immediately after reading a book, so that I can keep track of what I have read. I don’t allow myself to download another one until it is written. The collections are really just for me to see what I have in that category. I have quite a few, so I use the search button to find items from time to time, too. 🙂

  12. I organize my books on shelves in this order:
    1. By genre
    2. By author
    3. By series
    4. By size

    I do it in this particular order so I can quickly see which books I still need within a series, and the ones I organize by size are the stand alone novels (but these ones are also organized by genre and author 1st). I have to do step #4 or else I feel it looks too messy! I like having the books and the shelves neat and pretty! 🙂

  13. Kristin Schadler says

    I have mine in groups by author and subject and have the ones that are read on separate shelves from my TNT stash. I keep track of all my books via index cards in a mini binder.

  14. Karen Anne says

    I use tags in Calibre. It also lets me sort by author.

  15. Kathleen Kendler says

    I keep a spreadsheet of the books I own, to include e-books. I highlight the entry when I have read it. I also use Goodreads to track the books I have read as I am participating in 3 different reading challenges (cozy, books by title (alphabetically- on from each letter), and # of books). This helps me sort by author. I also have a list by authors that I track what I have read of theirs so I can check books out of the library.

  16. I don’t have any sort of system for organizing books I’ve read. Generally I can tell within a page if I’ve read a book before. That used to annoy me (same with TV shows) but now I stop and think, do I remember what happened? The answer isn’t always yes, so I read on. Because I enjoy reading so much, I often write reviews of books I enjoyed reading. I used to write a lot about the story, building up the hook and also adding a few lines of my own thoughts. Now that I am chock full of other obligations and responsibilities, I don’t have time to do so much. I need to adjust my mindset so that it’s okay to just write the two or so lines of what I love about the book. Bottom line, I don’t mind rereading a book I’ve read before. What’s important is that I get lost in the story.

    • I can sometimes tell if the plot seems familiar and then it’s likely I’ve read the book before. Now I pencil in a checkmark or my initials on the title page to mark them as read.

  17. Julie Fetcho says

    I have several 3 ring binders with the authors I like and a list of their books. Then I highlight the ones I have.

  18. When we moved I had to decide how to shelve my books. By author or by format, or genre? Do paperbacks by the same author go next to the hard cover? Since my shelves were of varying heights, it made sense to put paperbacks on the smaller ones, hard covers on the larger ones. And then, what about all the books I’ve accumulated since the move?

    I like my Nook because I can search for an author and see which books I already have, but that doesn’t help with books I’ve checked out from the library. Also, if I try to buy a duplicate book for my Nook, it tells me I’ve already bought it, which is nice.

    • I have a Kindle, and I wish it let you categorize items into Read and Not Read. I put notes inside the books I’ve read and remove them from my device They’re still in my Kindle library but then I won’t look at a title and think I haven’t read it yet.

  19. Candace knight says

    I would love to catalog all the books I own. I’m not sure which electronic system to use. I do use goodreads to catalog the books I have read.

    • I write my reviews into a file called “Recent Reads” before posting them on Goodreads. Then I can do a search if I want to see if I’ve read a book already. I’m not familiar with electronic cataloging software.

  20. I have an excel file that catalogs all the books we own and whether or not I have read them. What is missing from my system is Nancy’s short description of what the book is about, which would be ever so useful.