How to track books to read

I’m surprised that I can’t find more discussion about this in the forum; I’m guessing many of you are readers and I think therefore either: everyone has solved this problem so there’s no reason to discuss it, or no-one has a good answer so they’ve not felt a need to post about it. Hopefully it’s the former!

For the last 11 years I’ve tracked books I want to read on GoodReads. I’m getting a little twitchy about that because it’s trapped on someone else’s server (and that someone is Amazon). Also I read this blog recently about someone whose GoodReads account was wiped (the horror).

I’d like to store this list locally, but my problem is the list is huge (over 1000 books!) and it needs to be useable, I can’t be wasting time scrolling through a text list looking for things (sorry Markdown, this is not a task for you). I’m looking for ideas on how people with big lists are managing this. What do you do?

I don’t mind a dedicated app if I can store the data locally or have an automated backup. (I’ve seen some great Notion set-ups but that’s no good given their set-up.)

For interest, I already track titles read locally. I just use a Numbers file for that (and Excel before that, the spreadsheet has existed for almost 2 decades!). The usage is different for this though as I rarely need to cross-reference titles or check the list whilst shopping! I’m not sure Numbers is a good idea for a To Be Read list.

Over to you with your wonderful ideas please!


I use Numbers with the file on iCloud. I am also thinking/working in putting my library into an AirTable database, not local though.

You already have a great app for tracking lists of books. Apple Reminders. Use tags to put the books into buckets / genres / how interested you are / whatever. Then create smart groups based on tags to focus just on the part of the list you want to see. For example, select the #science fiction and #dystopian tags, and create a smart list on the fly containing just those books. You don’t need to keep the smart lists around if you don’t want them, they are so easy to re-create. You can add URLs, notes, priority, images to reminders if you want, or just record the title. (I like to put the URL for the Amazon Kindle version in a book reminder, for example.)

Reminders has become a really great app – I’ve weaned myself off OmniFocus in no time with Reminders. I keep my book lists, “maybe someday”, museums to visit, and other lists there. It’s on my Mac, my phone, my Watch all the time.

And its … FREE!

Have fun,


What about the “Wonder-Weapon” Devonthink?
You have a lot of ways, to insert your bookinformations, and use Tags to mark an entry as “read” or “want to read” and so on.
You can easily sort the books by that Tags, and do a lot of more with those files, incl. adding Annotations and so on.


DevonThink was my first thought (it’s my answer to most software issues nowadays!). I wasn’t sure how people might manage a big reading list in there though. From my thinking and I think your comments, are we both imagining a single database for a book list, with one file per title? It certainly solves the quick search and sort challenge. I hadn’t considered your idea of tagging, but it could make such a database very interesting!

One interesting thing I’ve discovered so far in this project is that the GoodReads data export is quite detailed - the csv file contains all sorts of metadata that could be transferred to DevonThink files (author, publisher, edition, date added to list, etc.)


Either a separate Database, or at least a separate Group, maybe with Undergroups for different genre or authors.

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I hadn’t thought about this at all, it’s very great idea and I need to ponder it. I just checked and Reminders has an item limit of 50,000, which seems very robust!

If you’re managing all your other (non-book) lists in there too, do you have several book lists or just one amongst your other lists?

The reason I’ve disregarded Todoist as an option is that all my to-do lists are in there and I didn’t want to have multiple book lists mixed in with them (and a single list of 1000 books feels too unwieldy).

You can find informations about almost every book by the ISBN. So there are already a lot of data you can just import from the internet into Devonthink.

I use Storygraph because I want to support an app that isn’t owned by Amazon (Goodreads). Also, maybe you can try Airtable creating a database where you can filter by “To Read” and “Read”, you can see a template here.

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This may not be what you are looking for but I use Things 3 to track books etc that I want to try.


I use a good old fashioned database app called Calibre to keep my ebook library, which contains multiple formats and devices. Mostly Apple Books (epub) and Amazon Kindle (mobi), but also PDF eBooks and textbooks.

Not the prettiest solution, but very functional and I like its metadata parser. I have created tag and a “yes/no” column in the database to put in read status

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Over the years I started with spreadsheets, then went to Calibre, then went to Library Thing, and finally settled on Book Connect from Collectorz.Com as about as close to perfect as I’ll find. It has an internal backup to the cloud that you then download locally; you can also export to csv. It imports csv and from many of the obvious book sites, including Goodreads. It’s cloud-based, which I prefer so I can take my iPhone into bookstores or used book sales. The iOS app can scan barcodes and import all the needed data into the main database. On my desktop, using the web interface, I can add titles by typing in the title or author or ISBN, and the rest comes up. It seems to be hugely customizable, similar to any database where you can select from many different fields and views, and you can add considerable data and tags of your own. It’s a subscription and somewhat pricey at $29.95 annually, but I have thousands of books and there’s just no better way for me to maintain some control and organization. There’s a seven day free trial by the way.

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I use GoodReads. It hasn’t wiped my information in the time I’ve been using it and I like being able easily make recommendations to friends and for them to see what I’ve been reading. Are you sure this is a problem you need to spend time solving?


I have a Numbers spreadsheet. But I also use the LibraryThing app.

I love LibraryThing. The app on iOS will scan an ISBN bar code. You can also hand-enter ISBN or other data.

They sell a very inexpensive bar code reader that works on the Web site.

Library thing is a private compnay owned by the founder, Tim Spaulding, who sold Amazon a minority stake (a very minority stake) in order to have access to Amazon’s ISBN data.

It’s free. It’s a community, with good privacy options, but the primary focus is on cataloging books.

You can import or export data, including data from GoodReads.


Like @Katie, I use Things. It’s just so easy to get titles there from whatever device I’m on.

My list isn’t huge, so I just dump all books into one project. Right now, I’m using only two tags — fiction and non-fiction — and can just filter by tag when I’m trying to decide on my next read. I’d think this would scale, and one could tag by genre, publication year, or any other characteristic one likes.

I do use Goodreads, but only as a backup log, really. I do enjoy the Reading Challenge as a way to set myself a reading goal for the year and see whether I’m keeping pace.


I use DevonThink. Every reading of a book gets its own text file where I record title, author, start date, end date, why I decided to read the book, and any thoughts or ideas I have while I’m reading it and after I finish it.

When I think of a book I want to read, the first thing I do is open a copy of that template and record the title and what made me think of reading it. Then I put that file in a To Be Read folder. Whenever I’m at a loss for what my next read will be, that’s where I look first.


Not for offline use but a replacement for GoodReads, I use Literal Club.

What I love about Literal is the way you can add your book highlights by using camera, you can add notes and which page and mark it as a spoiler if needed. They are focus on creating book clubs as a recommendation tool. You can also track when you started and when you finished reading.

It’s currently in beta and by invite only, so if you are interested let me know.

I’ve been using Goodreads for years. While it could use a facelift, it continues to serve me well. I like that it’s integrated into the Kindle and that I can see ratings and reviews written by friends (and others).

This thread prompted me to export all of my Goodreads library to a CSV file. I discovered that it’s quick and easy. I also created a repeating action in OmniFocus that will prompt me to export this data monthly…just to be on the safe side.


For a local solution, I like the idea of a DEVONthink database. That said, I started using in 2008 and I still continue to use it and rely on it, thousands of books later. It’s one area of tech use that hasn’t changed much for me in that time, which is unusual. I would describe it as a less social but far more robust version of Goodreads in terms of book information and ability to catalog books.

This one looks great! Thanks!