LW: Should I Keep Track of What I Read?

Maybe? If you want to?

I use Goodreads to keep track of what I’ve read. This is NOT a recommendation. It’s important to know that Amazon owns Goodreads, so every book you mark as read or to-read is tracked by the world’s third largest retailer. Jeff Bezos is not helping you track your books out of the goodness of his heart. There are other apps and websites that perform the same or very similar functions, and if you’re not already embedded in Goodreads, they’re worth checking out.

I, however, am thoroughly embedded in Goodreads and have been for years. Between “read” and “want to read,” I’m coming up on one thousand books in my account. (“Want to read” vastly outnumbers “read”!) What’s more, almost all of the friends whose bookish opinions I respect also have accounts, and I love to see what they think about what they’re reading.

Of course there’s no reason to use an app or website at all if you don’t want to. At one or two lines per book to record titles and maybe a star rating, a pocket notebook would probably last for years.

But why even keep track at all?

Bragging. Obviously.

How else will you know if you’ve read more than your friends? Or whether you’ve beaten your own record? How will people decide whether you’re smart if they can’t see the ratio of high-brow lit-rah-cha to trashy suspense novels, which, of course, you only read ironically? How will you even know you’re a patriotic, red-blooded American if you can’t turn something as apparently innocuous as reading into a cut-throat competition with your dearest friends and family?


Sort of.

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