181 Books to Read

I’ve just spent a ridiculous amount of time getting my Goodreads book shelves in order. I did this in order (really) to answer one simple question:

how many unread books do I have?

I’ll come to why this is important in a second, first let me explain something about Goodreads shelves. Shelves are a way of organizing your books and when you open a Goodreads account it comes with 3 already set up: Read, Currently Reading and To-Read. These are exclusive – a book can’t be both Read and Currently Reading at the same time. You can set up other shelves which aren’t necessarily exclusive in which case they act like tags.

Anyway if you search for a book, or someone links to it (like this say) then you can click the “add to my books” button and it will give you the choice to add to one of these special shelves. Now my list in Goodreads is quite complete in that it contains all the books I own, read or unread and a lot that I’ve read but no longer own (but not all by any means). It also contains a few that I intend to read but haven’t purchased or obtained yet (they may be out-of-copyright books).

So this brings me to why I want to know that number. I have a feeling of always adding to the metaphorical mountain of books waiting to be read when I already have more than enough to keep me busy for years to come. What I now intend to do is track my “TBR” (To Be Read) number and only acquire new books when I have reduced it by reading some, hopefully I’ll read more than I acquire and that way some sense of sanity will prevail.

The problem is that when I come across a book I’m interested in or may read at some point I can only really add it to my To Read shelf, so my To Read shelf is a list of unread books I possess and ones I may get at some point.

So I have created a “My TBR” shelf and a “Wishlist” shelf. I have spent the last couple of hours sorting my To Read shelf into those two categories. I also cross-referenced with my list of actual ebooks in Calibre and physical books – which meant some physical sorting and added in any that weren’t already there.

And the number is 181. I have 181 unread books, most of them ebooks. I’m going to make a rule that whatever my TBR is at the beginning of a calendar month it must be the same or less at the beginning of the next. Which means I can only get new books after reading existing ones. Otherwise they go on the Wishlist – which currently stands at a wimpy 14. (I might at some point add a rule about what proportion of new books can be completely new as opposed to off the Wishlist – but I might not, some things are too anal even for me)

UPDATE: I have discovered, whilst making this post, that most of my effort today was UTTERLY POINTLESS!

*takes deep breath*

OK, it turns out you can make any shelf exclusive like the original three. Not only that but once you do it’s one of the options on the “add to my books” button. So all I really needed to do was this:

  • Create a new shelf called Wishlist (which I did anyway)
  • Go through my existing To Read books and add any to Wishlist which I don’t actually own.
  • Make Wishlist exclusive. At this point it removes these books from To Read.
  • From now on put new books in To Read or Wishlist as appropriate.

OK. Actually that would have still taken a while as I would still have had to compare calibre/physical books against my To Read list to identify the Wishlist items. But it wouldn’t have taken so long to co-ordinate three shelves on Goodreads – especially trying to make the numbers add up (because To Read should = Wishlist + my TBR)

Oh well. It was sort of relaxing to do even if some of it was wasted effort. Now I’m off to delete “my TBR” and after that there may be alcohol and chocolate in my near future!



About shuggie

My name is Shuggie, Paul or LatePaul depending on where you know me from. I work in computers (databases) and occasionally write about softw
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