If you’re a book lover, you already understand the need for a reading list. It keeps track of what you’ve read and what you want to read. A reading list spreadsheet also collects all the data in one place, making it easy to visualize information.
Below, I’ll share my free reading list spreadsheet template. I’ll show you how I created it, what charts you may want to use to visualize book data, and answer common questions. I prefer making my list this way instead of using a reading list app. Read on to see why.
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Reading List Spreadsheet Template
If you’re here for a quick solution, this is it. I made a free reading list spreadsheet template. It’s linked below, and you can make a copy for yourself. Just visit my template, click FILE, then click “Make a Copy”. Then, you can make your own. That’s a free reading list app alternative. . . and it’s completely customizable.
How to Format a Reading List in Google Sheets
A good reading list includes the book’s title, author, genre, and year of publication. It also includes information about the way you interact with the book. For example, you’ll want to format your reading list in a way that makes it clear what you want to read and what you’ve already completed.
Charts and Graphs
My reading list spreadsheet includes a very basic breakdown of a book’s notable features. The most eye-catching part is the “books finished by month” chart and the “genre breakdown” chart. If you use my template, these charts automatically update when you choose a genre or a completion month. For more advanced visuals, try making a combo chart in Google Sheets.
Here’s a look at what my reading list looked like last year:
If you’re building a reading list for New Year, you’ll also want to include specific goals. Those are wildly different for different people, so I haven’t included them on my spreadsheet template. If you want to include a goal, first determine what you want to track. Common reading list goals include tracking:
- Total number of books in a year
- Total number of pages each week/month
- Number of books in a specific genre
- Total new authors read
- Number of “classics” completed
Some of these goals require additional information from your reading list. For example, a person who wants to read a dozen classics this year may want to add an extra column that tracks whether a book is considered a classic. That would allow you to use the COUNTIF function to count the number of classics on your list.
My reading list template includes a few example genres to get you started. If you only read books in a narrow genre, you can also make a drop-down list that only includes those in your oeuvre. Advanced spreadsheet nerds may want to make a multiple-selection dropdown for books in multiple genres.
Best Books to Include on a Reading List
If you’re making a reading list for this year, here are some considerations when considering what to add to your book tracking spreadsheet.
- Book length: Novels are great, but many readers prefer to include shorter books as well. A well-rounded reading list includes essays, classics, fiction, and nonfiction.
- Variety: The category of books you choose is also important. Few readers stick to one specific author all year. If that’s you, that’s ok. But the best books for your reading list are likely to come from a variety of authors and genres.
- Librarian recommended: Very few people have more expertise on the best books for a reading list than your local librarian. If you catch them when they’re not busy, they can usually give the best possible insights into your specific tastes.
- Must-read new releases: Those who want to ensure they have all the best books on their reading list should consider the must-reads from the top lists from the New York Times bestsellers list.
Your list of books will differ from mine. The important thing: Include books for inspiration but avoid overloading your list with stuff you’ll never actually read. I stopped adding The Dubliners to my reading list a few years ago. If I wanted to read it, I’d have done it when it was on my calendar a decade ago.
Looking to bulk up your list? Remember you can find a bunch of free ebooks, especially the classics, at Project Gutenberg. They’re free.
General recommendations for any reading list might include classic books like Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, sci-fi classics like the Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin, or Pulitzer Prize Winners such as Barbara Kingsolver’s 2022 book Demon Copperhead.
Here list of links with great books I’d recommend for curious readers. Note that these are completely different genres, so there’s something for a variety of tastes. I’ve read each of them and, if you’re looking for something new, they’re all worth checking out:
- A Moveable Feast – Hemmingway’s 1964 memoir
- How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – The wildly popular book on climate change by Bill Gates
- The Bond King – A nonfiction story about the rise of the bond market by Mary Childs
- Fight Club – A brutal commentary on modern society by Chuck Palahniuk
- Yellow Bird – Pulitzer Prize finalist and one of the best books of 2021 by Sierra Crane Murdoch
- Devil in the White City – Eric Larson’s masterpiece in cultural history about the World’s Fair and America’s first serial killer
- Raising Demons – A surprising look into the heartwarming family life of one of the best-ever horror writers, Shirley Jackson
Why Use a Spreadsheet as a Reading List
There are many reasons to use a spreadsheet to track a reading list. They’re certainly not the only way to keep track of what you’re reading. Many people use Goodreads, for example. It’s a social media site specifically for book lovers, and it’s a smart choice if you want to share your list with the world. I don’t want to share my list with the world. I like to keep a list just for myself, so I know exactly how much I’ve done.
I built my reading tracker template for customization. It allows me to do all sorts of things I can’t do in a reading log app.
Alternative Book Tracking Options
Those who prefer a done-for-you solution may want to consider a reading list app. Install one of these on your phone, and you can track your favorite books and your progress throughout the year. Apps like Reading List: Book Tracker bring these features to your iPad or iPhone. They just don’t give me the specific data visualization options I like from a spreadsheet.
My Google Sheets book list template includes title and author information, but it could also include page counts or major themes. It’s easy to add these as new columns. Then, once I have enough data that a quick glance doesn’t give me exactly what I need, I can use some of the built-in tools to help me find what I need.
Reading List Formulas
Spreadsheet reading lists also let you easily work with your data. I’ve talked in the past about how to count colored cells. That, paired with conditional formatting, would allow you to color-code your reading list and pull even more interesting stats.
Want to know how many books you read by a specific author? How many pages you read in a given month? Make a pivot table.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions I hear about reading lists. Personally, I like tracking which books I read with a personal spreadsheet. It helps me protect my information and allows me to do all sorts of fun visualizations with my data. Here are my responses to the common questions:
How do you come up with a reading list?
I build my reading list based on my favorite genres, authors, and trends. You can pull stats from your devices, too. If you listen to audiobooks, for example, you might find your listening stats on Audible. The same works for eBooks on most e-readers.
Where can I find my reading list?
If you use my free reading list tracker template, you’ll make a copy for yourself. Then, it shows up in your Drive. Just go to sheets.google.com and your reading list should be searchable. Starting from scratch? Just go to sheets.new and start making your reading list.
Is there an app to keep track of books I’ve read?
Yes, there are many reading list apps worth checking out. However, if you’d like to control your visualizations you may want to make your own book tracker spreadsheet.
Where can I find the free 2024 reading tracker?
I have my Google Sheets reading tracker spreadsheet template linked, for free, above (and I also have a character sheet builder spreadsheet for anyone into tabletop role-playing games). You can use it to track what you’ve read and what you want to read this year.
I hope you enjoyed my free reading list tracker template. I designed it especially for those who want to read a dozen or more books a year. This reading list helps you track your reading by genre, author, and year. It has visualizations for the number of books you’ve read each month, and the reading list also visualizes your books by genre. Looking for an even simpler way to track books? Check out my free task list template instead.
Have a question or idea on how to improve my reading list? Please let me know in the comments.