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Is there a program for keeping a reading journal?

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I'm  :stuck

I'd like to start keeping my reading journal on my laptop instead of on hand-written index cards.

There must be a program that would allow me to enter data (title, author, publisher, date, category, awards, summaries, my review) and then later view entries sorted in different ways (by book category, by author, by Title, by publisher, and so on).

I've tried asking Google, but I haven't hit on the right search terms yet, apparently.  Can anyone help me out?


[modified to correct a typo]


#1 - May 05, 2008, 07:40 AM
« Last Edit: May 05, 2008, 08:11 AM by Susan »

What about a private blog?  Granted, you'd need an internet connection each time you wanted to read or update it, but it sounds like it would do exactly what you're looking for.

For each book entry, you could slap on various labels like Newberry Winner, Newberry Honor, NBA Winner/Honor, YA, MG, publisher, year published, agent, editor, etc.  Then you can click on each label when you're looking for something specific. 

There might be regular software out there that does this, but I don't know of it.  Does anyone else?

Tabitha
#2 - May 05, 2008, 10:04 AM

Caffeine, please!
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I use an Excel spreadsheet.
#3 - May 05, 2008, 11:35 AM

redheadedali

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Would you be willing to use a web-based tool? I use LibraryThing, and I've heard good things about Good Reads, too.
#4 - May 05, 2008, 04:40 PM

Shelfari has these capabilities, too.  I use it and like it, but then you're stuck with all your notes being public. 

Do you want to keep these notes private or does it not matter?

Tabitha
#5 - May 05, 2008, 05:40 PM

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Thanks for the suggestions, which raise additional questions.

tabwriter and redheadedali: Privacy would matter if anybody could identify me, because my short reviews are written for my own purposes--so no careful phrasing, no punches pulled. Are all the programs you mention public?

tabwriter: Having to go on line would be a bit of a drawback--I can't always get on line--but not as much of a drawback as using my current hard card catalog. So is a private blog really private?

chibeth: can you tell me whether Excel allows you to cross-reference? In other words, rearrange the chart to sort the list in different ways?





#6 - May 06, 2008, 05:32 AM

Sarah Miller

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chibeth: can you tell me whether Excel allows you to cross-reference? In other words, rearrange the chart to sort the list in different ways?


You sure can. I use Excel. (I started with Lotus 123 but switched to Excel when I got my Mac.) My spreadsheet is split into the following categories: Title, Author, Illustrator, Format (picture book, novel, etc.), Genre, Subject, Imprint, Publisher, Adult/Children, Print/Audio. I do a lot of rearranging if someone asks for books on certain topics, or particular genre.

Excel works well for me, but I'm not sure if it would be the best choice if you want to enter larger chunks of text (summaries/reviews). It may work just fine, but I've never tried it. ;) The combo of title, genre, and subject are usually enough to remind me of the plot.
#7 - May 06, 2008, 06:12 AM

So is a private blog really private?

Yes.  I don't know about LiveJournal, but Blogspot will allow you to restrict access to your blog (LiveJournal probably will too).  I have a friend who created one, and no one can access it without proper authentication.  BTW, I believe that all the other online programs are public only.

It sounds like you'd like the capabilities of a database.  Microsoft Access is a database that runs on your desktop.  I have no idea how user friendly it is, though, since I've never used it.  A blog has the same functionality, but you'd have to be online.

I hope this is helpful....though I feel like it hasn't been.   :embarrassed2

Tabitha
#8 - May 06, 2008, 08:40 AM

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Indeed, all this info has helped. It has saved me gobs of time researching these options.

I'm going to try Excel, and see whether the comment columns are manageable. Meanwhile I'll force myself to learn how to manage a blog. I've been postponing that because I find computer stuff such a trial.

Thanks, all. If anybody adds a comment during the next week or so, I might not respond--I'll be traveling, and won't have access to the Net.

#9 - May 08, 2008, 05:56 AM
« Last Edit: May 08, 2008, 06:00 AM by Susan »

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Susan--you might try writing your thoughts in Word or some other text editor and then linking them to your Excel spreadsheet. I save my reviews as RTF files and then insert a link to them in a new column on the spreadsheet.
#10 - May 08, 2008, 07:32 AM

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You sure can. I use Excel. (I started with Lotus 123 but switched to Excel when I got my Mac.) My spreadsheet is split into the following categories: Title, Author, Illustrator, Format (picture book, novel, etc.), Genre, Subject, Imprint, Publisher, Adult/Children, Print/Audio. I do a lot of rearranging if someone asks for books on certain topics, or particular genre.

Excel works well for me, but I'm not sure if it would be the best choice if you want to enter larger chunks of text (summaries/reviews). It may work just fine, but I've never tried it. ;) The combo of title, genre, and subject are usually enough to remind me of the plot.

Hi - I read over your shoulder :) and set up an Excel file. Do you have all of your entries in one large file? or do you save each one individually? (Journal entry1, Journal entry2)

#11 - May 16, 2008, 02:53 PM
bridgettebooth.com
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My daughter set up an Excel spreadsheet (thanks Sarah Miller for the idea months ago) to keep track of our home library.

I use goodreads (www.goodreads.com) and there is an area for reviews as well as an area for private notes. I believe that this could be kept private if you didn't add any friends. There is an easy way to print up your book lists. I use it to see what my friends are reading and get great ideas for books I might not have found other ways. It might meet your needs if a spreadsheet doesn't do all you want.
#12 - May 22, 2008, 05:09 AM
Sarah Blake Johnson, MFA
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One thing to look out for with Excel is the cell character display limit of 1024. I bumped into this when using Excel to keep track of research notes & sources for a book project and then couldn't see at a glance or print the complete entries of the longer cells I'd entered.  :gaah  I poked and prodded and but didn't find a way around it and ended up having to abandon Excel for notetaking. I understand Microsoft has increased the limit in the latest and greatest version of Excel, so if you're using that, or just writing short blurby bits about each book, it won't be an issue, but if you write longer notes or are using an older version of Excel, beware.

Oh, and if anyone has found a solution to the limit for older Excel versions, please, please, please let me know.  I'll send you chocolate chip cookies.  :yup
#13 - May 22, 2008, 08:27 AM

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For this kind of thing, Excel might be overkill, especially if you're not used to working with it. I've found setting up a Word table is useful for lots of things; I even use it to track my time for invoicing. 
#14 - May 22, 2008, 08:50 AM

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My daughter set up an Excel spreadsheet (thanks Sarah Miller for the idea months ago) to keep track of our home library.

I use goodreads (www.goodreads.com) and there is an area for reviews as well as an area for private notes. I believe that this could be kept private if you didn't add any friends. There is an easy way to print up your book lists. I use it to see what my friends are reading and get great ideas for books I might not have found other ways. It might meet your needs if a spreadsheet doesn't do all you want.

For those of you who use Excel -- are you keeping a list of books read or do you have notes attached to it? And is it all one large file e.g., 30 rows of books with notes?

I signed up for goodreads. Kind of interesting. Looks like a great place to wander around when I'm avoiding writing.  :whistle
#15 - May 22, 2008, 03:02 PM
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My reader's notes are technical--about structure, the handling of character, subject matter, strengths and weaknesses, type of humor, similarities to other writers--as well as personal response to the book.

I need space and privacy, and I'm going to see if I can follow chibeth's suggestion of linking Excel with files in Word.
#16 - May 24, 2008, 06:43 AM

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My reader's notes are technical--about structure, the handling of character, subject matter, strengths and weaknesses, type of humor, similarities to other writers--as well as personal response to the book.

I need space and privacy, and I'm going to see if I can follow chibeth's suggestion of linking Excel with files in Word.

Well this is what I try to do, but my organization is a mess. Lots of paper, files, and disorganization. . . which is why I'm reading this thread and trying to figure out a better way electronically. (But I need to have a plan before I proceed or otherwise I'll just have another mess.)

If you think about it after you've road tested the Word linking to Excel, would you post your suggestions?
#17 - May 26, 2008, 04:17 PM
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« Last Edit: May 27, 2008, 01:50 PM by C.S. »

Christye

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An online journal that I LOOOVE is at http://shelfari.com

you can orgainze books that you've read, want to read and are reading.  There's a place to rate the book, addcomments and even mark the day,month and year that you read it and how many times you've read it.  You can also post a cool bookshelf on your blog with your book list. 

it's my fave. 

Christy
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#19 - June 15, 2008, 07:41 PM

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