Reading Recording Accuracy & Book Polygamy

From here on let’s just assume I’m talking about Goodreads (because that’s where I mainly record my reading), but this could apply for any other system too.

I like to keep fairly accurate records. Fairly accurate. But not precise. I try to match my editions on Goodreads exactly but if I can’t find my edition I try to match cover/format and page number (in that order of importance). I’m not super strict about things, but I do make an effort. I just don’t go that extra mile to add a new edition. (Actually I’ve done this once ever and decided it wasn’t worth the pains because someone else would probably sort it out at some point and I ain’t no stickler for accuracy.)

I try to be fairly accurate in my ‘Currently Reading’ statuses too. If the page numbers aren’t the same as mine (or if the page numbers include a lengthy bibliography) I’ll calculate the percentage of the way through the book I am: page I’m on divided by the total pages in my copy minus bibliography.

However, I cannot tell a lie, my ‘Currently Reading’ shelf is rarely accurate. I am almost always nosing through more books than I list. But seeing the shelf overloaded on my GR dashboard can sometimes make me a bit…anxious? I don’t know why. It makes me feel guilty sometimes about starting new books without having finished past ones. But this only ever happens when the shelf gets past about 5 books. And I think it only happens when I’m aware of that GR shelf. When the shelf is out of my mind, I don’t mind if I’m currently reading 3 or 7 or 13 books! I don’t bat an eyelid. But when I see the list and click “show all 8” (like it says now) and look at the list, it feels like a testament to a fickle nature.

How does that even happen? Well, oftentimes I’ll have one or maybe two ‘main books’ I intend to read. Then I’ll see a number of novellas that seems interesting to me. “Hmm..only 120 pages? I can probably squeeze that in between these two. Take me a day maybe to get through it with distractions…” I’ll get 30 pages in and then…something happens? I have no idea what. Somehow a week later I’ve added two more novellas. (We’re up to 5 so far in case you’re counting.) Something else will catch my eye on Net Galley so I’ll start that. Then another New Galley find and it’s probably going to be archived soon so I better get on it now! (That’s 7…) Then some book with a quick, doable-under-normal-circumstances deadline pops up and I really want to get it in before that deadline and, VOILÀ! We’re up to 8.

And I actually do dip into all the books concurrently. I won’t always record insignificant advances – a page here or there. That hardly seems worth it. But, for most of them, I haven’t left them alone long enough or certainly enough to put them in a “TTNF (but BRB)” category.

I wonder, is this flakey? Should I just STOP myself and acknowledge that all the new book finds are going to still be there even if they have to wait for me to finish my current ones? Or should I just wade deeper and deeper into the dense jungle of unfinished tales?? (That’s completely rhetorical. I’m totally gonna wade forever. Always have. Always will. #WadersGonnaWade)

Hmmm. Let’s try to bring this around to a point though. If I’m honest, I don’t have any problems with my book polygamy itself. But the anxiety of making an unending list of the books that pops up and reminds me of my slow (or unmoving!) progress seems to conflict with my desire to keep neat notes on my reading. I don’t like feeling like I’m not getting any further along. No closer to knowing what I came to the books to know! And I’m not closer to having resolved feelings about it all either… But it helps to unravel the workings of a muddled mind that darts so easily from one thing to the next. I love making occasional notes from as I’m reading – a sudden plot twist? a shocking discovery? social commentary? a hilarious typo!? I’m on it!

If nothing else, I suppose my Currently Reading shelf is a peak into my mind and the things it wonders about…*

*(At least the non-comic/audiobook things because I tend to fly through those without recording progress.)

I’m not sure where I was going with this so thank you so much for sticking around. You deserve so many book-shaped cookies and your choice of hot drink, be it tea, coffee, hot chocolate or mulled wine. Don’t worry; I ain’t here to judge you! 😉

Are you super meticulous about recording your reading?

Are you a book polygamist?


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11 Responses to Reading Recording Accuracy & Book Polygamy

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  4. Dana says:

    I am generally a book monogamist. I tend to read in binges, reading straight through books in one to four sittings, so I never really have more than one novel on my currently reading shelf. Right now, I actually have a second novel on the shelf because I can’t quite bring myself to mark it DNF, but I’m pretty sure that’s where it’ll end up. I do, however, sometimes have a manga and a novel on the shelf at the same time because I read manga when I have less time and save the novel for longer sittings, usually during weekends.

    I’m really good at keeping my currently reading shelf accurate. I have the GR app on my phone and I update it as soon as I start/finish a book. I think my need to keep it accurate comes from my inner journalist… and my outer journalist, I guess.

    • Nicole says:

      No way I can do that. Or…I guess I could (and have) with the right book, but it’s very, very rare (with the exception of comics and manga). I tend to read things over long stretches of time – a week being the normal shortest amount of time usually (unless it’s a very small book which I might do over two days) – because I’m a slow and easily distracted reader.

      Yeah, I’m uuuusually pretty accurate too (except when I’m sneaking books and don’t want Goodreads to see me guiltily adding more things to my already bajillion-book-long Currently Reading shelf…!) heh

      Don’t DNF that book! You can do it! Keep going! *Woop Woop!* (lol, j/k. You dump that book whenever you feel it deserves it haaa!) ;D

  5. Sam says:

    I’m a book polygamist in different ways. I always have one eBook, one audiobook, and one physical book going. So my minimum is three. But sometimes I have two audiobooks (one for the car, one for my phone while I’m cooking) or two physical books (one for book club, one for myself). I don’t usually go higher than five or lower than three, but even that many can scare me some times. I have no problems with it, I actually enjoy it a lot. Happy reading!

    • Nicole says:

      Oh! I didn’t even think about across formats. I definitely always have a few ebooks and a few physical books and, even if I have a few lined up, I can only seem to listen to one audiobook at a time; I sync whatever books are on my computer to my phone so I can listen at work or while faffing around the house ha.
      I think since I’m fine with reading multiple books at the same tim as long as its behind Goodreads’ back I’ll just keep doing that and make some kind of note of when I started it to keep my reading records accurate if I’m feeling particularly punctilious! haha
      Happy reading to you too! 😀

  6. curlygeek04 says:

    Great post! I am definitely a book polygamist, though I’d say no more than three at a time and they need to be pretty different genres. I keep track of my current reads on Goodreads but I don’t have time to mess around with the percentages; I just like the feature because the widget shows what I’m reading on my blog. It’s often out of date, but I guess I don’t worry about that too much. It doesn’t matter to me if Goodreads knows what day I finish a book. I do try not to let books fall through the cracks completely though. One thing I’d like to get better at is categorizing. My current “shelves” are not a great reflection of the way I like to track books (like books in other countries, new to me authors, etc.). I do a better job categorizing on my blog itself, but then I’m doing double work.

    • Nicole says:

      D’aaaw but the progress bar is the funnest part! hahah
      I’ve actually found (fairly recently) that I like to have an idea when I read a thing but I have no solid idea why. And I like being able to comment along the way and see other people’s comments on bits as they go along (spoiler free of course!). And that can be handy if I think a book is boring and someone goes “OMG!” 50 pages on from where I am and I know that maybe something cool or shocking happens and, if I can suffer through I might be rewarded. (But ain’t nothin’ stopping me from DNFing a book if I just don’t care and I’ll Google those spoilers later if I really want… haaa).
      Ugh. My relationship with shelves is “complicated” =_=; I’ve just upgraded from havign only the three basic shelves you get when you join Goodreads to having SEVEN (oh god!) shelves including: DNF, comics/picture books, non-fiction and (absolute) favourites. Just thinking about categorising more than that gives me the sweats.

  7. EllieTaylor says:

    I used to have a big problem with reading more than one book at a time. As in I just couldn’t do it. But in the past year or so, I’ve become pretty okay with reading 5+ books at a time. I think it’s partly due to a shift in reading habits. It’s not nearly as strange or daunting to me if I’m reading a graphic novel, a novella, a ya dystopian, a memoir, and a how to book. If only because the varied genres make it easier to keep the works separate. For the most part I try to avoid reading like fiction at the same time, but let’s be honest. Some books are page turners and some aren’t. It doesn’t mean that the latter isn’t worth while, it simply means that they take longer to get through and can seem to add stress to tbrs and reading goals.

    As far as meticulous recording, I just spent 2 hours updating books that I’ve read to my goodreads. I’ve found that while I read a lot, I haven’t been active enough on goodreads in the past few years (I’ve also deleted and rejoined which didn’t help matters) and there are a startling number of things I’ve read that I just haven’t recorded. But I’m pleased with the habits I’ve stuck to in the last year or so of updating every time I read a significant chunk of a book. I do love seeing that progress bar go up.

    But truth be told, I frequently wish that goodreads could take a peek into my brain and just accurately record every single book I’ve ever started or finished from childhood. I have a deeply seated curiosity in regard to how many books I’ve actually read so far in my lifetime, but for now, I’ll stick to updating my tbr. 🙂 Great post!!

    • Nicole says:

      Yeah, I think you naturally go for a mix of things. I could read lots of non-fiction books on different topics at the same time (although with several different history or memoir non-fictions I could imagine getting details muddled) and stories in different formats (comics, poetry, etc) and then fiction in different genres like you say. But I don’t think I could read multiple books with very similar narratives and not get confused.
      To be honest with you, I think I do it partly because I’m a rather slow reader and an easily distracted one at that. It is REALLY rare for me to get an average-sized (let’s say 250 pages?) book finished in a day. In fact, it’d be rare for me to finish that in a week. So as my attentions wonder, I just add more stories to my pile of books I’m reading! haaa Terrible..

      haha yessss the allure of raising the progress bar ;u; I should be ashamed of how pleased updating it makes me. It like getting a silver star! Finishing the book is a gold star….and yet, it is oddly less satisfying in the same way that ‘the end’ of something is less satisfying than the journey..hmm #philosophy hahah

      Hah yes! That would be cool to see all you’ve EVER read accurately recorded. siiiigh One day when computers can read our minds (as we dream in our Matrix pods…).

      Thanks; and happy future book recording! 😉

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