The Three Best Ways To Track Your Reading


For bookworms like us, keeping track of all the books we read can be a challenge. Today, let’s look at the pros and cons of 3 different ways to track your reading. Plus, we’ve got a sneak peak at our newest reading tracker!

Voracious reader. Avid bookworm. Total booknerd.

Call us what you will, but across all my book friends I have noticed a common theme: We love to track our reading.

Recently, I’ve been averaging about 20 books per month, which adds up real quick. Keep that pace for several years, if not decades, and suddenly I’m trying to keep track of a whole lot of books. Then when you consider that some books are for book club, some are for my 2019 Reading Challenge, and some are just for fun, it’s easy to start mixing up what I read when.

Over the years, I’ve used a variety of methods to track my reading – with varying degrees of success. Today, let’s take a look at 3 ways to track your reading, and I’ll show you my latest reading tracker!

This post is in collaboration with Purple Trail. For more information, read our Disclosures.


Did you know I studied mathematics in college? After graduation, my first “real” job was as a data analyst for a large corporation. And any good analyst knows their way around a spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets make great reading trackers because they are so customizable. Want a field to track the publisher of every book? Just add a column. Plus, you can sort and filter spreadsheets all day long!

On top of that, one of my favorite aspects of a spreadsheet is privacy. If you happen to have a desire to read every classic ever written, no one else needs to know you have a spreadsheet with more than 500 books on it. It can be your little secret.

Unfortunately, spreadsheets can take a while to set up, and if you aren’t careful, you can accidentally sort all but one column, mixing up your data. Moreover, if you ever crash your hard drive, you could lose everything.


When I first heard about Goodreads back in 2012, I was hooked immediately. The most popular reading tracker app, Goodreads has completely dominated the market of reading trackers. Seriously, if you haven’t tried out Goodreads, you are clearly missing out.

The app isn’t very complex. Everyone has 3 default shelves – Read, Currently Reading, or Want to Read. Each book you add to your account must fall in one of these categories. Which brings us to downfall #1: You can’t really track re-reads of books.

*Update: Apparently, now you can add multiple reading dates! You can also create a new exclusive shelf for such categories as Books You Didn’t Finish.

To further sort your books, you can create tags. I have tags for adult fiction, young adult, children’s, classics, ARCs, audiobooks. You can file each book under multiple tags and create as many tags as you want.

While you are a reading a book, you can even track your progress in the app. (I never do.) When you finish the book, rate the title and write a review for other users to see. Which brings us to downfall #2 – you can’t rate a book 3.5 stars. Honestly, some books are a tad bit above average, but not all the way to 4 stars. This is just one of my little pet peeves.

I absolutely love Goodreads; I use it all the time. However, lately, I’ve had this most likely irrational fear that my account could somehow get accidentally deleted, and I would lose everything. Additionally, I really wanted a little more privacy in my reviews. Which brings us to the last of my three ways to track your reading.

Reading Journal

Enter the good old-fashioned pen and paper. Partly as a backup to Goodreads and partly as a place to keep my own thoughts, I’ve decided to use a reading journal this year.

With our 2019 Reading Challenge, I wanted a place to better track my reading choices. Yet, I wanted to go a bit beyond just tracking my reading challenge. As you know, one of the biggest aspects of our blog is our book lists. Writing book descriptions for over a dozens books per list takes times.

In order to keep myself better organized, I wanted a reading journal where I could record my thoughts on every book I read. That way, when I want to include a book I’ve read into a book list, I already have my description all ready to go. Luckily for me, I found the perfect reading journal.

Purple Trail reading journal interior page

The Perfect Reading Journal from Purple Trail

If you’ve never heard the name before, Purple Trail is an online stationery company that specializes in letting its customers find their inner designer. With Purple Trail, you don’t need to settle with good enough. All of their products come with a full customization capability, letting you get the exact product you need.

While I drooled over their darling cards, planners, recipe books and even book club invitations, I was really in the market for a reading journal. Honestly, I could have spent all day scrolling through all of their beautiful designs. With so many choices, how do you select just one? Eventually, I decided I preferred their standard design for a reading journal – Glasses & Book Custom Journal. Though, of course, I was not going to pass up the opportunity to make it my own.

Full Customization

Here’s the thing about Purple Trail. You can customize almost everything about your product. If you don’t like choices this might not be for you, but I absolutely loved playing around with the design of my journal. Personally, although I loved the glasses and book stack design, I wasn’t a fan of the default pinkish color – so I changed it to a cream. Easy as pie.

To get my perfect product, I was determined that my reading journal perfectly reflect our 2019 Reading Challenge. So, instead of “Romantic Novelty” or “Adventure,” I switched the book titles on the front cover to 500+ pages and Children’s classic to showcase the reading challenge categories. Moreover, I had the choice to change the colors, the fonts, or wholly switch out the design of the front and back cover.

Not only do you get to select the design of the cover, but also you get to decide the type of the cover. To better fit my tiny little hands, I chose a smaller size, 6″ x 8″ instead of the larger 8.5″ x 11″ size. Plus, all the journals are spiral bound, making them so much easier to write in. With my choice of covers (synthetic, laminate or hardcover), I was in heaven tailoring my reading journal perfectly for me. By which I mean, hardcover all the way!

But the customization doesn’t end there. Each journal comes with 176 pages of high quality writing paper that’s bleed resistant. Better yet, you get to design the interior pages, too.

Since I will likely read 176 books this year, I decided to keep the front and back of my interior pages the exact same. However, you have full range to create your journal however you like. With two different reading tracking templates, Purple Trail already has readers in mind for their products.

Never content to settle with a template, I opted to update the interior pages to match my needs. For example, I removed the date started option because it seemed a pointless entry to me. Then, I changed the titles of the boxes to describe my needs. With a little work, I added 5 stars to each page so I could rate each book, even in half stars if I so desired.

If I had wanted to, I could have alternated between the reading tracker, and a simple lined page to take more notes on. Or bullet journal pages. Or any of a dozen other templates. Beyond a reading journal, they have page templates for weekly planners, travel journals, recipe books, lesson plans. If you can imagine it, you can do it.

A Few Last Thoughts

While playing around with the design of my reading journal was fun, it would not have been worth it if the product had less than stellar quality. Happily, I can tell you that my reading journal turned out absolutely perfect.

After placing my order, my journal arrived promptly in the mail. I was delighted to open the box and find it so carefully wrapped against damage. That’s one thing I love about smaller companies like Purple Trail; they take such obvious pride in their products.

Soon after my product arrived, I was a bit annoyed that customer service kept pestering with emails. Though for clarification, by pestering I mean that I got maybe 2-3 emails. Finally, it occurred to me that I only felt like they were pestering because my product was flawless … and I hate emails. If there had been an issue, I could have conveniently just replied back and quickly gotten my issues resolved. I guess I’m just not used to excellent customer service.

All in all, I’m delighted with my new reading journal from Purple Trail. It’s made an excellent addition to my blogging supplies, and I’m excited to fill it up with all the books I’ll read this year.

Special thanks to Purple Trail for working with the Pingel Sisters! Although we were compensated for this article, all opinions are our own.

What ways to track your reading have you found the most useful?

How to Track Your Reading // Looking for the best ways to track your reading? Here are the pros and cons of 3 ways to track you reading we have used, and a look at our latest method!

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  • Reply Terra W April 8, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    I love goodreads! I haven’t used the tags – but my “to-read” shelf is most important… Whenever I am at a booksale – I keep that list handy!

  • Reply Tina April 14, 2019 at 8:51 am

    I use Goodreads, too but I never thought about what if that site goes away? I would lose years of book lists! Yikes! Maybe I need to think about another way to track. Thanks for the great post!

    • Reply Rachael April 15, 2019 at 4:08 pm

      It probably won’t happen, but paranoid me worries about things like this!

  • Reply Cammie April 16, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Readers are able to add re-read dates to books in Goodreads. It is a relatively new feature on the site though.

  • Reply Pamela Jones May 3, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    I journal the books I read with the date finished and the Title and author. I have a mark “X” that I put next to any book I did not enjoy and would not recommend. There are some that I make notes about but not all of them. I have other notebooks that I list books I would like to read. Unfortunately there are multiples of these. I shop thrift stores, and regular books stores and on- line book sellers. I try to keep a list of books I would most like to read to take with me when I shop. I go through my notebooks and mark books that I have bought and then again after I have read them. I enjoy doing these things almost as much as reading.

    • Reply Rachael May 8, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      You sound just like me. I am a hardcore list maker. Though then I end up with lists everywhere!

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