Beta-Testing My New Reading List

ETA: I’ve made some additional enhancements since writing this post.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I would be adding some new features here on the blog. For one of those features, I’d planned to move the list of everything I’ve read since 1996 back here to the blog. I recently began that process and now have a page ready in beta for people to take a look at:

What I Have Read Since 1996

A few notes about this initial testing phase:

  • Currently, the list includes what I have read from 1996-2020. I have not yet added the 50 or so books I have read in 2021. That will be coming shortly.
  • I have not yet enabled responsive design, so it may not look right on mobile devices, yet
  • You can sort the columns by clicking on the sorting arrows. Sorting on the Finished column doesn’t work right yet because I don’t have the date formatting correctly.
  • To get back to the default sort, sort on the first column.
  • The Related Posts column is intended to be a place where I will link to posts I’ve written about the book in question. I’ve added one example so far.
  • Want to see the longest book I’ve read? Do a descending sort on the Pages column

If you are curious to see an example without clicking on the link, here’s a screenshot:

screenshot of my new reading list page
Screenshot of my new reading list page.

My goal here is to be able to provide a single authoritative place I can point people to for a list of everything I’ve read. Ideally, I’ll be able to add links to related posts for additional context for a given book. A few things I’ve been thinking about but am on the fence on:

  • I’d like to have one big list, but I will likely break it into pages by year before rolling it out officially. This will allow me to have a “top page” with a table that lists each year, along with some stats for the year and links to other things like recommended reads, etc.
  • I’d like to add an icon in front of the title to indicate the format in which I consumed the book (paper, ebook, audio, etc.)
  • I’d like to add an indicator for books that I recommend. Maybe a star at the start of the column? Or just a bold column? I’m not really into 5-star ratings so that’s a nonstarter for me.

Finally, keep in mind that I will be tweaking this as I have time, so you may see things change or disappear. But I wanted to get the basics out there for folks to see.

If you take the time to check it out, I’d love to hear your feedback. Please, let me know what you think, good or bad. I want to make this as functional as I can manage. Leave your thoughts in the comment. Or, if you prefer to provide them directly to me, shoot me an email.

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6 comments

  1. Great stuff, Jamie. I really like the list and the whole idea behind it. I know the word “inspiring” might be a little bit excessive since it is so overstrained today that people all want to be inspiring and be inspired. Sure, you are not trying to revolutionize open-heart surgery here (apologies if you are in fact and delete my comment) but this list does inspire me to think more about the history of my own reading instead of just tackling one book after another. I think, it provides a sense of order, accomplishment, and direction to have such a view from above on your reading history. I have that only for the past couple of years through Goodreads and it was kind of fun to skim through your list in a chronological order and try to remember when I had read a certain book on your list (we read Haldeman’s “Forever War” around the same time) or what I have had read at that time you finished a different book. And of course, at the end of every book and looking for the next and starting that search with the question “What would Jamie read?” (just kidding, a little bit), now I do have a comprehensive list of books. And I think it is imperative to add a list of recommendations and links to your own reviews. I am really looking forward to see the finished “product”.

    While having a look at the list I spotted some errors regarding typography (for lack of a better term that I know with my limited knowledge of website coding stuff – I know, my eloquence makes that evident). Line 13 and 73 show some gibberish in the title. Don’t know if that is something on your end or just my device.

    Anyways, keep working, I like it very much.

    1. Thanks, Sebastian! I have this weird memory for exactly where I was and what I was doing when I read a book. (Maybe it’s all the journaling.) When you mentioned that we read The Forever War around the same time, I flashed back to the jury pool room in the Hollywood courthouse. I was there to see if I was called for a jury and instead spent the entire day reading Haldeman’s book.

      I also look to certain lists, wondering what so-and-so is reading. My list was originally inspired (back in 1996) by an early website I found where this guy (who I’ve still never met or interacted with) had his reading list since 1974 setup very nicely. It’s still there, in much the same form as it was 25 years ago, and every month or so, I go and look and see what Eric has been reading: https://whatihaveread.net/

  2. Looking great Jamie, I used your GitHub repository as the inspiration for my own list (which I started Jan 1st, 2018).
    I did notice that the sorting on the date column is using the month field, maybe going with the date format YYYY-MM-DD would quickly resolve this?

    1. Darren, thanks! I think I had a bullet in the post that the dates weren’t sorting right. I need to reimport them in some kind of ISO format, probably YYYY-MM-DD makes the most sense as you suggested. So cool that you started your own list, too, BTW!

  3. My 5-star system is as follows:

    1 star: didn’t finish and couldn’t stand; book met wall
    2 stars: finished (barely) but has significant flaws; likely won’t read author again
    3 stars: still flawed but promising; will likely pick up next book
    4 stars: really liked it; will definitely pick up next book
    5 stars: amazing; author goes on my short auto-buy list.

    If you don’t want to put stars on your spreadsheet, maybe just a thumbs-up emoji on recommended works?

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