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Want to track your reads? Book a date with an app or get between ...

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Want to track your reads? Book a date with an app or get between the Sheets

There are a number of apps that keep track of what you’ve read or you can keep it simple with Google

Sunday Times books editor
Negative publicity aside, Goodreads is among a number of apps that will help you to stay on top of what you've read.
GOOD OPTION Negative publicity aside, Goodreads is among a number of apps that will help you to stay on top of what you've read.
Image: 123RF/©deadburnett

Lists are my saving grace. I have lists of everything I need to do. But the one thing I don’t have is a list of the books I read. I don’t know why – there are plenty of apps and websites that record your reading. I have an account with Goodreads, but it’s mostly to gather information on titles or read reviews. I do not click to add books I’ve read, but the more I read, the more I forget what I’ve read in the past year, never mind 10 years ago. So maybe it’s a good time to start. But is Goodreads the best place for doing so?

It is the most well-known reading tracker, but the site has received quite a bit of negative publicity in the past few years. Not only has it been accused of being anachronistic, it’s become a hunting ground for trolls looking to con smaller authors, cyberstalk users or worse. In a Time Magazine article one author related how she was the victim of a ransomware attack. Time wrote: “A few months after posting a message on Goodreads about the imminent release of a new book, indie author Beth Black woke up to an all-caps ransom email from an anonymous server, demanding that she either pay for good reviews or have her books inundated with negative ones: ‘EITHER YOU TAKE CARE OF OUR NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS WITH YOUR WALLET OR WE’LL RUIN YOUR AUTHOR CAREER. PAY US OR DISAPPEAR FROM GOODREADS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.’”

Black didn’t pay the ransom and reported the incident to Goodreads. She then noticed her books were getting one-star reviews. She is not the only one. Racist trolls are apparently targeting authors from marginalised communities.

Libib has a free option, but you really want the pro, paid-for option that has added benefits. The user-friendly site, which says it has more than 300,000 subscribers, can catalogue more than 5,000 items, including movies, music and video games.

Goodreads is slowly changing its website and policies, but not fast enough for authors and readers. So what are the alternatives?

I have downloaded Bookshelf: Your Virtual Library. It allows a person to track their book collections on custom shelves, as well as analysing their reading habits. It catalogues all your books and maintains a wish list of those you want to read. It’s free and ad-free, making it a win-win for readers. 

Libib has a free option, but you really want the pro, paid-for option that has added benefits. The user-friendly site, which says it has more than 300,000 subscribers, can catalogue more than 5,000 items, including movies, music and video games.  

Reading List allows you to keep track of what you have read, as well as what’s on your to-be-read list. It’s like Goodreads, but without the community or interaction of others. There is a pro, paid-for version as well, but the basic option seems solid.

These are not the only apps. There are probably hundreds more, with some more highly recommended than others, such as Litsy, Bookly, BookSloth and The Storygraph. 

Or you can use Google Sheets, which is nothing fancy. You basically create a chart – titles, authors, star ratings … which seems much more suitable for me. It’s easy to access on all my devices and I can share the document with those I trust. I don’t want no trolls.

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