First: Oh, my gosh, thank you, Andrea. I have a tasteful shrine to Andrea in my home, and it is very stylish and organized because this spreadsheet has rocked my world.
As we’ve used it, Elyse and I have made a few additions, and because there has been so much discussion about examining what we read, I wanted to share it with you so you could track your own reading.
Wait, track your reading?
Oh, yes. Both future and past!
I had created a Google Sheets spreadsheet last year to track what I wanted to read and when, what genre it was, when the book was coming out, and where the book or ebook file was so I could find it. Present and Future Sarah do not ever remember what Past Sarah did, so Past Sarah needs to leave us notes. (We get along pretty well, the three of us, thanks for asking!)
After Andrea commented on Podcast 275 and shared a link to her outstanding spreadsheet, I began keeping both: one to track what I’m going to read in the future (mine), and one to track what I have read so far (Andrea’s). When I shared them both with Elyse, the Reading Tracking spreadsheet became A Thing.
Elyse, it should be said, lives for spreadsheets, and can do magical things involving pivoting and graphs and glittery kittens that I cannot do. So she’s added some features to the spreadsheet that make it even more informative.
And with all the discussion about making reading choices and book buying more inclusive, I thought it might help you to have your own copy of this spreadsheet with some tips and suggestions.
Why track your reading?
Well, first, it makes my nerdy heart so happy to see how much I’ve read. I know how many books I’ve read this year, how many pages, how long it takes me to read or listen to a book, and what sub-genres I’m reading the most of this year.
Second, as Peter Drucker said:
What gets measured gets managed.
In other words, if you want to manage, change, or pay closer attention something, you have to track it and measure it.
If I want to know how many contemporary romances I read compared to historicals, I need to track it. If I want to know how long it takes me on average to finish a book, I need to track that, too.
And, as many people have mentioned in our post about the RWA statement on the lack of inclusion of Black authors among the RITA finalists and winners, if I want to make sure to include Black romance writers, authors of color, and writers from marginalized groups in the books I read, I need to track it. If I want to know how many romances featuring diverse characters that I’ve read, I need to track that information, too.
With some of the modifications Elyse and I made to Andrea’s excellent spreadsheet, I’m doing all of the above.
The way I see it, if I want change, I have to do what I can to make that change happen.
“If you do what you’ve always done,
you get what you’ve always gotten.”
In other words, if I am concerned that the books I read feature all-White cisgendered, heterosexual Christian characters, and were written by exclusively White authors, I need to make some changes.
I can’t directly change what books get published from the houses which have me on their distribution lists. I can’t change what books I learn about in email newsletters, or in correspondence from publicists. If I rely on the sources I’ve always relied on, I will receive more of the same, most likely.
But if I expand my searching and deliberately include additional resources, my knowledge of what books are available increases significantly. And once I buy a book online, most retailers have all those lovely algorithms to serve up more of the same. While often the algorithms are frustrating or suspect, in this regard, they can help you out immeasurably.
I also look for more resources as often as I can (and within the time I spend on social media, since too much of it can make me feel extremely anxious). Since we here at SBTB HQ are in the business of sharing book information, the more we search, the better we can do.
For example, Amanda learns about everything (seriously it is ridiculous AND she remembers it all). She also shares announcements with us internally and in Hide Your Wallet and Book Beat. Then there are sources on social media. On Twitter, there are romance readers and bloggers talking about what they read constantly (us included). Then there are resources like WOCinRomance, and Sil from The Book Voyagers whom I swear also knows everything. The number of people talking about books online and off only grows, so adding more people to the sources you listen to means you learn about more books.
Amanda has also created a handy Twitter list of Book Rec Resources, if you’d like to subscribe to it. The upside to expanding where I search for books is that I have more books to read, especially from marginalized writers. (The potential downside, if there is one, is that I must take excellent care of myself so I can live long enough to read them all.)
So now that you’ve got all these new books to read (woo hoo!) let’s talk tracking!
For this post, I’ve combined my Planning sheet and Andrea’s original Reading sheet into one spreadsheet with three tabs.
Here’s a link to a copy of the Reading Tracking Spreadsheet:
This link is view-only.
All you need to do is click File, then Make a Copy to save your own version to your Google Drive.
Let’s take a tour, shall we? Starting with the BOOKS tab. This is where you enter the data on the books you’ve read.
Title, Author, Series, Pub Date, Pages, Format, and the date started, ended, and days read fields are all pretty self explanatory.
The genre fields, and the fields about diverse characters and marginalized writers require a few notes.
First, be consistent about what terms you use. Currently, the genres listed are as follows:
- Contemporary Romance
- Historical Fiction
- Historical Romance
- Women’s Fiction
- Erotic Romance
- Regency Romance
- Paranormal Romance
You can use different terms but it requires some editing of the tables on the next tab – more on that in a moment. You can also use more than one term to describe a book.
Under Diverse Characters and Marginalized Writers, you also need to be consistent in what you enter in those fields. You can use “Yes” and “No” as the answers, as I have in the sample data, or you can be more specific, as the chart on the next tab will support multiple terms. Just be consistent.
Now let’s look at the Statistics page because this is where the magic happens. Andrea, as the original creator of all this spreadsheet magic, deserves all the praise and wine.
On the second tab, the data you entered from the first tab is turned into graphs, statistics, and charts that allow you to see the results of your reading.
The spreadsheet as I’ve shared it has some sample data that you can delete, obviously, but the data I entered gives you a preview of the statistics that are being tracked.
Books Per Month, Rating Distribution, and Page Count are also displayed in graph form below:
Then we get to Categories and this part allows for customization if you know how to work your spreadsheets (I, for example, do not, and was very nervous about attempting changes).
This is where the tricky editing can occur if you need it. If you’d like to change the categories or genres, you can, but you need to make that change consistent and make sure to edit the formula in the “Total*” column as well.
The category statistics are compiled from the data entered in column K of the “Books” tab. So if you added “Classic,” and “DNF” as the genre/category for Pride and Prejudice, your statistics would include 1 classic and 1 DNF. As Andrea noted in her original construction, totals may be higher than total number of books because categories may overlap.
Then there’s the graphs Elyse and I added: Diverse Characters and Marginalized Writers. You can adjust the titles and the data to fit your own needs or goals, of course.
The data you enter into columns L and M on the “Books” tab create the pie charts on the “Statistics” page:
These charts are based on the sample data I entered, and I kept the fields as “Yes/No” for ease of demonstration. You can customize it to fit your own reading goals and habits. In the character column, Column L, you could identify characters as Queer, or you could identify Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Asexual, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, etc. as individual options and chart the results. As long as you are consistent, the charts will help you.
Again, the data shown here is all based on the sample books I entered. Once you delete the sample data and begin entering your own, you’ll see your own reading history.
I have found using this spreadsheet to be very inspiring: I want to keep reading and keep adding to my totals, and I already read quite a lot. But I also want to focus on what I read, who I read, and what sub genres I’m reading more of. In my own choices this year, for example, to my surprise I haven’t read many historical romances, but I have read several historical mysteries. Seeing my own tastes changing has been very interesting.
Plus, my spreadsheet is private (well, private between me and Google – hey, Google!) so I don’t have that residual, ongoing worry that I’m going to screw up my Goodreads settings and my private comments and shelves will become public.
Again, you can grab your own copy by clicking this link, and, inside the Google Sheets menu, clicking “File — Make A Copy” to create your own spreadsheet inside your Google Drive.
I hope this spreadsheet is helpful. Again, massive thanks to Andrea for sharing the original version, and to Elyse for helping me customize the version I’m sharing now.
What do you want to track? Do you think this will be useful for your own reading habits?
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