Running my reading log

At various moments I’ve recorded my reading habits using LibraryThing and then Goodreads. I’m not particularly good at making sure everything gets recorded (especially since, as a scholar, I also dig into portions of books that I’m not sure really rise to the level of “I’ve read this”). But I do like keeping this log of information, but I’m less keen to feed that information to Amazon or Google.

Some time ago I started playing around with keeping my own reading log. I don’t tend to include much in this log like reading notes or ratings, but it is nice to have the list of things I’ve read over the course of a year. Sadly I missed this IndieWeb pop-up back in February about distributed libraries, but as I’ve said before I’m a big supporter of the IndieWeb’s vision for the web: of owning your little parcel of digital space and taking ideas, values, and people seriously.

So, my reading log is more a feed of things I read rather than a space for reviews or notes (those find themselves in Obsidian). Does anyone find that interesting? I suppose some might. (Don’t worry if you don’t, the book log isn’t included in the main RSS feed – there’s now a separate RSS feed for just books).

But at some point over the summer I stopped logging books here – mainly because of the friction of getting book metadata by hand, but also because micro.blog’s book search was so good and easy to use. I still use micro.blog’s bookshelves a lot, but I also want to include that content here. So I needed to solve the friction of adding books to the log. I think I’ve come up with a reasonable way forward.

The solution was this node script that asks for an ISBN or book title, fetches the data from the Google Books API, and writes a new markdown file with the appropriate metadata all in place for me. Much less friction, easier to manage, and exists here on my space on the web.

It’s not an indie version of Goodreads, but a simpler thing. And that’s enough.