Jack Baty
Director of Unspecified Services
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Book logging in plain text

Of all the ways I’ve logged books, I’m thinking that plain text remains the best. I’ve been adding books to a text (Markdown) file for while now and it’s not pretty, but it works. And it will always work.

I publish a copy at www.baty.net/books  books.baty.net

Like I said, it ain’t pretty. On the other hand, I use it regularly by simply running little searches. If I want to know how many books are read in 2020, it’s just grep 2020- books.md | wc -l and I get 14. To see the actual books, it’s even easier: grep 2020- books.md which gives me this:

A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas A. Basbanes (2020-01-05) | ★★★★
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell (2020-02-05) | ★★
The Instructions by Adam Levin (2020-02-15) | ★★★★
The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan W. Watts (2020-03-06) | ★★
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (2020-03-09) | ★
Recursion by Black Crouch (2020-04-05) | ★★★
Devoted by Dean Koontz (2020-04-23) | ★★★
The Soul of an Entrepreneur by David Sax (2020-05-04) | ★★★
Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore (2020-06-09) | ★★★
Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5) by Martha Wells (2020-06-24) | ★★★★
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2020-07-19) | ★★★★
The Permanent Portfolio by Craig Rowland (2020-07-22) | ★★★
More Effective Agile by Steve McConnell (2020-10-10) | ★★★
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits (Zoey Ashe, #1) by David Wong (2020-12-27) | ★★★★

Or, how many books have I read by Christopher Moore? grep 'Christopher Moore' books.md:

Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore (1999-01-01)
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore (1999-01-01)
The Griff: A Graphic Novel by Christopher Moore (1999-01-01)
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (2008-12-24)
Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore (2009-03-12)
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore (2010-12-28)
Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore (2010-12-28)
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore (2011-01-01)
Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore (2015-11-12)
Noir by Christopher Moore (2018-05-15)
Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore (2020-06-09) | ★★★

It’s not perfect, and leaves out any kind of social discovery, so I also enter books in both GoodReads and StoryGraph , which honestly only takes a few minutes per book so it’s hardly a burden.

I love that my plain text book log is so lightweight and simple.