Do you keep a record of books you’ve read?

Vintage Parchment with Burnt Edges and a Red Quill Conceptual Artistic Light-painted Still Life on Black Background — Image by © Oleksiy Maksymenko/All Canada Photos/Corbis

Being a parent, one of the challenges is finding enough time to indulge in a good book and as one of those people who likes nothing more than to just lose whole days as hostage to a fabulous story, it is actually one of the reasons I chose to work in Mayfair!Now don’t get me wrong here. There are plenty of reasons to work in Mayfair. All good.

With the challenges of childcare, I could have chosen to work closer to home, taking a few hours off my working day. However, that would mean losing precious reading time on my tube journey. It takes me an hour door-to-door, (tube delays willing), allowing at least 20 minutes twice a day to indulge in a good book. Or, as is more often the case recently, a good blog or magazine (I’m generally a fan of the written word!). Now, with the ability to draft and publish posts on my mobile WordPress app, the challenge is ever greater as the temptation to write creeps in to the mix!

One such blog I will always find five minutes to read is The Happy Logophile, where writer and mother Jo recently referred me to Brian D Buckley’s post about keeping a spreadsheet of all the books he’s read, so that when he’s old he can look back and find the worst thing is that he was a little bit “jazzed” about his reading list! Read it here.

This got me thinking about the number of times I’ve wondered what “that book” was – you know the kind of thing, where something triggers the memory of a scene or a character, or even the whole damn story, but nothing, not even a scouring of Amazon, can recall the title or the name of the author! Mostly these moments are fleeting, but frustrating nonetheless.

Of course, there are the books (and characters) I’ll never forget; those with whom I fell a little in love, Dick Bruna’s Miffy, Jack London’s White Fang, Jo in Louisa M Alcott’s Little Women and Roberta in E. Nesbitt’s The Railway Children; those that shocked me, like The Color Purple (Alice Walker), The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) and The Tenth Circle (Jodi Picoult), those that taught me, like The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank) and To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) and those that just plain old touched my heart, like Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

The trouble is, despite the entirely selfish reason for me to want to work in Mayfair, I still couldn’t honestly tell you off the top of my head what exactly I’ve read since taking the job a year ago. So I thought I’d look back along my bookshelf and share my 2011 reading list so far:

  • The White Queen (Philippa Gregory) This new series gives an idea of how women’s lives were affected by politics and the constantly changing allegiances of their men folk during the Wars of The Roses. The White Queen (Elizabeth, of York) comes across as intelligent and passionate by nature, driven to desperate measures by circumstance. Her suspected links with witchcraft are fantastically and subtly interwoven with an otherwise historically credible plot, making it another great read from the Queen of historical fiction.
  • The Help (Kathryn Stockett) This deserves every accolade. Beautifully, humbly and sensitively written it tells a story of humanity transcending race, as a young, white, female journalist secretly writes and publishes the anonymous stories of a group of black maids who work for her peers.
  • The Red Queen (Philippa Gregory) From one to another, I couldn’t devour either book fast enough. Depicted as a harsher, colder, but equally determined opponent for the White Queen, Margaret Beaufort is no less a sympathetic character. The poetic licence of her enduring and chaste love affair with Jasper Tudor (Henry VII’s uncle) just made it all the more delightful to read.
  • One Day (David Nicholls) I loved this. I really enjoyed being transported back through the last twenty years. The details were precise enough to make me realise how much our lives have changed in such a short time. Also, I liked how the plot twists, surprises are quite difficult to find in the romantic genre! Can’t wait to see the film!
  • Get Lucky (Katherine Center) I found this delightful writer online through a link on one of the blogs I read regularly. After only five minutes on Katherine’s delightful blog, I felt energised. Maybe it was the bright colours, or the positive words but I just had to buy all three of her novels there and then on Amazon. I’ve only read this one so far, but I wasn’t disappointed. A cracking read, a feel good story with plenty of Will they…? Won’t they…?
  • Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro) I’ve just finished this – I admit to taking a break to read Get Lucky (see above). This was not because this novel wasn’t holding my attention or well written. On the contrary, when I dipped into it, I felt slightly “sucked in” by the plot as it is quite intense. There’s an unwritten mystery that draws you in as it becomes ever clearer towards the end of the book. I don’t think I have read anything like it since The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Attwood).

What’s next? Well, I’ve got a bookshelf full of all sorts next to my bed but that’s a whole other post! I have however, just picked up an Adele Parks novel – Men I’ve Loved Before so I’ll let you know what I think in due course.

Do you keep a list of books you’ve read? Do you blog it? Keep it online, in a beautiful notebook or a functional spreadsheet? Let me know or leave me a link and I’ll pop over and swap notes!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Mayfair Mum x

© Mayfair Mum, 2012

18 thoughts on “Do you keep a record of books you’ve read?

  1. Can’t wait for One day either..i hope anne hathaway does justice to Em.

    You should watch Never Let Me Go. I enjoyed the movie, haven’t read the book though.

  2. I too had this problem – knew I’d read a book about something particular, but couldn’t remember the title or author – then another blogger recommended I join a website such as or Shelfari. They’re social reading sites that not only allow you to keep a list of the books you’ve read, but also recommend books you might be interested in based upon what you’ve read already. I tend to use more, but both are worth a look, :-).

  3. I started keeping an Excel spreadsheet of books I’ve read about a year ago. Now I review them on my blog as well 🙂 I really enjoy it. It’s great for a reference and the reviews help me think about the book and remember things longer. It’s also great getting feedback from other readers.

    • I was thinking of doing the same. Didn’t want to bore the socks off my readers though LOL! But this post has generated more interest than any others, so I might just do it now 🙂

  4. Glad to have helped inspire you! I have to be honest — I’ve joined up on Goodreads, but haven’t done anything else with it. It’s a bit too much work and effort for someone with little enough time as it is. (Although I’m sure that once you’ve got it all set up, it works wonders.) I follow quite a few blogs where I get to read book reviews, and have already got a HUGE list of “must-read” books that I will get to eventually.

    I am enjoying keeping my list of books read, though, and definitely encourage people to do the same, whether through something like Goodreads, or on their blog with reviews (yes please!) or in Excel, or all of the above.

    (Oh, and my post on the subject is one of my most popular posts as well. So clearly this is something that a lot of people are interested in.)

  5. I agree that Never Let me Go was very similar in tone to The Handmaid’s Tale…

    Personally though, I don’t keep a record of the books I have read. Since I was 13 (28 years ago) I have read probably a book a week, so I have probably read around 1500 books in my life. It probably would have made a nice catalog though.

    Luckily now I have a Kindle, so I don’t have to keep a record of them, as I will carry them with me everywhere I go…

    • Thanks for commenting Wesley. A book a week is an impressive record!

      I read loads of great stuff while I was at school (a while ago now!) and Uni. Since losing the academic rigour of reading, I aspired to a book a week too – not sure I managed it but there must have been an average of 26 a year – that’s 400 at least – the challenge is to remember them all! Ha!

      Kindle sounds great but I’m not convinced I don’t love the feel of a book in my hands more…

  6. I am a member of Goodreads,thats about as organised as my reading list will ever be.I used to read a lot,now I rarely get the opportunity.As a self-employed mum of 5 there is never enough hours in the day. I have to agree that I’m not willing to give ‘proper’ books up for a kindle yet.I love everything about books-the feel,the smell,the way I feel whilst holding one.

    • Hi Nicola. Thanks for commenting. I agree with you about giving up books. I couldn’t imagine life without them – enjoying a giggle over shared textbooks in school, the lovely feel of a well thumbed paperback from the library, the shininess of a brand spanking new hardback for the coffee table – I love them all. I think you do well to read at all with five children. Don’t know what I’m complaining about really! LOL Think I may have to try Goodreads, though I’m thinking about trying to link Amazon to Mayfair Mum…watch this space.

  7. I used to do a Brighton to Russell Square commute and loved it for the reason that it was my time to read, also lets not kid myself I hated it too as to be honest 2 hours each way was just too long! However since the kids have come a long, a move to Scotland and a commute to work in the car my reading only happens on those rare holidays.
    I have never kept a record but like the idea, that is when I find the time to read. I fancy a kindall, however I still like the feature of a book shelf with books on!
    Good luck in your record keeping 🙂 Emma – The Good Parent Guide.

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