Reading Lists and Other Infractions

I keep a spreadsheet of all the books I read. The oldest entry is January 2, 2010: Hyperion, Dan Simmons. The most recent is October 1, 2011: The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis. (Highly recommended, by the way, even if – like me – you’re not a Christian.)

I keep this spreadsheet because 1) I’m the kind of person who requires very little convincing to start a spreadsheet, 2) I think it will be interesting to go back later when I’m older and see what I was into as a young’un, and 3) reading a book gives me a real sense of accomplishment, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to have a record of that.

(Ever noticed how much difference a few degrees make in phraseology? “Warm and fuzzy” sounds nice. “Hot and fuzzy” sounds vaguely illegal. Be careful out there.)

Anyway.

I guess finishing a book makes me feel kind of like leveling up in an RPG. Or if not increasing by a whole level, at least earning some experience points. I feel like I’ve improved myself, somehow, as a person.

(Brian Buckley) < (Brian Buckley + The Crying of Lot 49)

There is some element of actual truth to this. Books do enrich the mind (or, if they don’t, boy have I made some bad life choices). Yet that alone doesn’t entirely account for the sense of accomplishment I get.

If I’m honest, I think part of it is selfish. I like to be that guy – the guy who, when somebody asks “Have you ever read Don Quixote?” can thoughtfully sip his martini and say, “Why yes, in fact, yes I have.” The guy who’s cool and worldly, where cool and worldly is defined as even geekier than normal. I like having lit cred.

(Note: I do not drink martinis.)

So the spreadsheet isn’t quite as noble-minded as I’d like to make it sound. But then, I suppose there are worse sins in this world than literary selfishness. I suppose if I can look back on my life and the worst thing I find is that I’m a little too jazzed about my book list, I’m probably doing all right.

I mean, at least I’m not getting hot and fuzzy.

Do you keep a list of what you’ve read?

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14 responses to “Reading Lists and Other Infractions

  1. Pingback: Do You Keep a Record of the Books You Read? | The Happy Logophile

  2. I just typed out a response, and then reaised that my comment was longer than your post. So not cool. So I’ve blogged my answer instead, and linked back here. My thoughts are here.

  3. “I guess finishing a book makes me feel kind of like leveling up in an RPG. Or if not increasing by a whole level, at least earning some experience points. I feel like I’ve improved myself, somehow, as a person.” — Ditto.

    Yes, I keep a list. I used GoodReads.com. LOVE it.

  4. I don’t keep a list of the books I read – but my husband keeps one for me 🙂

  5. Do you use charts to track your progress, completion rates, rate of completion over time, etc? +1 geek cred

  6. I am an old fogey who still uses LJ for something besides bad poetry and writing about cats and/or knitting. (Okay, the cats show up sometimes.) I make a private post dated Dec 31st of the next year and every time I finish a book, I add the title to that entry. Then, at the end of the year, I make it public.

    It’s a nice way to see what I was reading in a given year. I’ve only been doing it a year or two though. Wish I’d done it back when I first started on LJ – or sooner, with pen & paper! Oh well.

  7. Pingback: Do you keep a record of books you’ve read? | Mayfair Mum

  8. I haven’t since I was a teen but I wish I read enough to have a decent list. This way I’d realise on how many I’m capable of reading a year!

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