A Book Spreadsheet + Book Notes

I’m excited to share my latest “tracking” obsession…. haha.

You all already know that I like to track things in my planner. And reading is no exception. On each monthly Habit Tracker page, I keep this little section down at the bottom. The dates are at the top, so I can correspond a “dot” to a day of the week, and it runs across the whole month on one spread.

This is my February page so far:

A triangle around it means I started it, and a square means I finished it. (The double square means I goofed up and marked the wrong date. šŸ˜†)

I like this system because I can see: a) how long it takes me to finish a book and b) which days I actually read or not.

BUT…. this section doesn’t allow me to track: a) my rating and what I thought of the book and b) well, anything else, like what the book was about, etc.

So I decided to shamelessly directly copy Elisabeth (who posted about her book spreadsheet sometime last year) and make my own book spreadsheet!

The plan is to record the title, the author, dates started and finished, my personal rating for it and then just a short blurb about my general thoughts.

Here’s a screenshot. (Sorry so small, for some reason I cannot make it bigger!)

“Kaelyn’s Book Spreadsheet”

Part of the reason I wanted to do this is because as I was reading This is not a book about Benedict Cumberbatch, she made reference to Brigid Schulte’s book Overwhelmed. I jotted that title down and thought, “Hmm, that sounds interesting- maybe I should check that out.” So, yesterday I went to Goodreads to add it to my Want to Read list, and…. I’ve already read it! And not that long ago. Apparently I finished it on August 31, 2021.

I have basically zero recollection of reading this book. Does this mean the book Overwhelmed actually underwhelmed me??? I don’t know!

But it made me wish I had a few notes about the book, what I thought, anything to jog my memory. (Enter the spreadsheet!)

I am keeping it on my Google Drive, and each line took me literally about 30 seconds to fill out, so it shouldn’t be a big time burden. (Also, I don’t read very many books a month. Usually only a couple.)

How I wish I could go back in time and have a little record of every book I’ve ever read!!! How FUN would that be.

Books + Notes

I do sometimes take handwritten notes when I read books, but this is an area of struggle for me to figure out how to manage.

My main issues are:

a) taking notes slows me down, and I already don’t read as much as I’d like to…so sometimes I say, Eh, forget the notes- just read the book already!!

b) keeping book notes in spiral notebooks for the rest of my life seems like a lot of clutter, and will I ever really look back at them, anyway?? (Also, it’s very slow and cumbersome.)

c) I like the concept of electronic/ typed up notes (e.g. snippets of favorite quotes or passages, or great ideas from a non-fiction book), but I am not necessarily sitting at my computer every time I read my book, and doing this on my phone seems very tedious.

d) this problem could likely be resolved by using an e-reader and highlighting as I go, but I currently only read paper books.

e) I will generally never write or highlight in paper books (most are library books- that would be ahem, frowned upon), and even if I own them, I’m just hesitant to mark up books! I’ll probably get rid of the book at some point, anyway…

I *think* Elisabeth may use those stick on flags to mark passages, and then go back later and type up important notes later. (Elisabeth, if you’re reading, please chime in?) I could try something like that.

Otherwise, I’m open to suggestions! Or I suppose I could just…. not take any notes. But ooh, sometimes there are passages that are SO GOOD that I’d love to keep a record of.

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful that the schools called our snow day today (yes, ANOTHER ONE- makes 3 this month…) in advance last night. At least the boys could enjoy a relaxed evening and were able to sleep in.

14 thoughts on “A Book Spreadsheet + Book Notes”

  1. I read almost exclusively on my kindle, so any highlighted passages are saved on goodreads. I have referenced them in the future so that is a nice feature! I track my reading on goodreads and then also have a spreadsheet that I got as part of a Patreon community. I just started using it last year but it was fun to have way more data on what I read. This year I am realizing what things I don’t need to track on that spreadsheet, though – like publisher for example. I also read Overwhelmed but don’t remember much about it. I think I got it as part of a “postal book club” where you get mailed a book and a notebook. So my thoughts are all in that notebook. I gave it 4 stars but don’t remember much about it. I want to say it was light on solutions and more of a deep dive into how overwhelmed we all are? I haven’t read the BOBW book but I plan to in the next couple of months. There was a long wait for the ebook. If I had been able to attend, I would have bought a copy so I could participate. But I’m in Chicago this week so it didn’t work out.

    I experimented with using the gantt chart in our planner to track how many days I spent reading each book but I never used it and that data is captured in the spreadsheet so I abandoned it! But it is a cool visual!


  2. Oh, pick me, pick me! I have so many thoughts!

    I have a spreadsheet (borrowed from Stephany!) on Google Drive and I use it to track a lot about the books including number pages, year of publication, my rating. I actually don’t keep track of how long it takes me read books, though, because it’s not important to me, although I can see how it matters to folks. Stephany actually did have a spot on the spreadsheet for day started/day finished and I just didn’t deal with day started. ANYWAY.

    I keep a piece of paper in any physical books I read (usually the receipt from the library) and when I find a passage I like, I note the page number and the first and last words of the passage (so the last one I wrote says p. 61 “Just kids’ isn’t…stuff” or if it’s something I looked up (a word, a historical event, etc.), I just note the word and the page number. When I’m finished reading, then I write the book up for my blog and type out the lines of note at that point. I think jotting these passages in your blog would be a great thing to do!

    I do highlight a lot on ebooks. I love that if you’re using Amazon, you can see the highlights even after you’ve returned a book to the library. Just a quick highlight when I’m reading and then I can go back to it afterwards for more contemplation or to type it out for my blog.


    1. Love the idea of just keeping a folded piece of paper in my book! So smart! The idea of just jotting down the page number/ first word is genius and would allow me to later just type things up. Great idea!


  3. i don’t take notes unless it’s a great quote or story that I want to share with someone. I log my read books to Goodroads so I don’t repeat them. i enjoy the process of reading more than finishing so i guess it’s okay to even repeat books.


  4. I am with NGS too! I have thoughts! I don’t know what kind of phone you have but I have a Pixel and it has a recorder app where you can do voice notes and it transcribes them (pretty well too, with punctuation and everything!). You can then back them up to be available on all platforms whenever you want (if you have a gmail account), so you can then just paste into your Excel sheet or Google doc or whatever. That way when you are reading you can just transcribe, or voice the page and passage or whatever so you don’t have to type into the tiny phone. If you don’t have an Android I am fairly sure there will be some sort of voice to text or transcribing app on Apple. Another option is the Google Keep app, which you can also do voice to text on and then access it later from your computer.

    Not to get all geeky on you, or all Google rah rah, but you can also take a picture and then use Google lens to convert to text and then copy paste to wherever you want! It is super easy and useful and I use it when I am reading in Spanish so I can jot down words easily and not have to type them one by one!


  5. I am very envious of people’s book spreadsheets, but I don’t think I would be able to keep it up. I track what I read on Goodreads. I very rarely take notes, although once in a while I copy down a quote. Where do the quotes go after I cope them down? Who knows. I read a book recently and loved a bunch of the comparative language and put a bunch of the quotes in an email and it is still there in my drafts folder, waiting for me to do something with it. (The only reason I even know about this email is because I was deleting old drafts and found it among them.)


  6. This happens to me all the time, that I will read a book and later have no recollection of it whatsoever. I also frequently start books and think “hey, this seems familiar” only to look at my spreadsheet to see that indeed, I have already read it.


  7. I am a huge fan of my book spreadsheet. I spent a few months neglecting it and it really bummed me out, so I restarted doing this again in the New Year. I made it even easier on myself – it’s just: the book title, my “rating” – so I can give myself the 1/2 stars Goodreads won’t allow me, and a sentence or two (max) about the book. I used to write out the author’s name but I’m so lazy I dropped that.

    I’ve been reading more fiction lately, so I don’t have as many quotes to copy down. Unlike the Kindle, it is a PAIN to get highlighted text off the Kobo (but this is the e-reader I need to work with the Canadian library system). So, I highlight the text passages I want, and then before I return the book, I can just open up all the highlighted quotes in my Kobo and I take pictures with my phone. It’s annoying and I should take the time to learn the steps to get them off, but it’s complicated with the Kobo which is very annoying since it’s so easy (or so I’m told) with the Kindle. For paper books I usually flag the quotes as I read (with those removable stickies) and then go back and either type them up immediately or take pictures of my favs.


  8. I always love seeing how people track things. I keep a book journal – or rather the pages in the back of my time log journal – to keep track of my books. A spreadsheet seems more practical in many ways.
    I’ve started using the app Highlighted to pull quotes when I’m reading hard copies of books. You use the app to take a picture of the page and then you pick out the quote and the app will save the quote as text. It’s not perfect – you have to get the page to line up perfectly or else the sentences will run together – but it was free and I was interested in a digital method of note taking and capturing quotes. I do like that you can scan the ISBN number and the app will pull up the book for you, so you don’t have to create a new “file” for each book. I think there are other paid apps that do the same thing but better.


    1. Thanks for the tip! The idea of taking photos with my phone is intriguing. I’m not sure what I think about it. I can see the benefits but also am not sure if I want to be pulling out my phone during my reading time all the time, and then having to deal with excess photos on my phone, too. I think that might kind of interrupt the flow of my generally “non digital”/ unplugged time (= reading time). Hmm. I can see how this is a smart idea though! I will have to play around with the various suggestions above and see if I can find something that works for me.


      1. I feel that same conflict about pulling out my phone when I want non-screen time, so often I’ll write down the page number or (sh… don’t tell the library) fold down the corner of the page, and when I’m done the book, or later on, I’ll go back and re-read quotes and save the quotes I want to Highlighted. The photo doesn’t save to your phone – it’s just the way the app pulls the quote.


  9. I’ve almost completely switched to eBooks (something I thought I’d never do), but it’s so easy to highlight sections (and they’ll stay in the Kindle App, even if it’s a book I borrowed from the library, so that’s pretty neat). I also keep track of my books in Goodreads and do try to write up a short review after I finish.


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