30 June 2010

Tools: Bento and GoodReads

Being the tech geek that I am, I've used Bento to track the books I read during the year. The database program, which seems more like a simple spreadsheet program than a database, allows me to type in my notes ...  what I liked about the book, what I didn't, character lists, synposis (which I tend to pilfer from Wikipedia), book art, and my rating. It is completely customizable, in that I can use what ever fields I want to record my experience of the books I read. Below is a screen shot of my library in Bento.

But I've been using GoodReads.com lately to keep track of the books I read.

The service allows me to connect with other readers and see what they are reading, see their reviews, write my own review of a book, and participate in online reading groups, i.e. the Sword and Laser podcast has a group discussion that I follow. The service is a double-edged sword ...  the plus -- lots of cool bits to follow and read, the negative -- I could easily waste hours on the site checking things out.

As a writer, I miss writing down the bits about what I liked about a book and what I didn't, sorta helping me assess my own writing skill and think about techniques I might like to try. So, I'm contemplating a return to Bento while continuing to use GoodReads.com. Seems like double duty, but I enjoy "connecting," even if it is mostly lurking, with others and finding other books to read, but want the explore the detail I enter into Bento to help me grow as a reader and writer. I will just cut and paste from Bento into GoodReads if I feel the need to write a full review in GoodReads.

Just an example to two tools that overlap in their use, but I how make them work for me.

Bento would also be good to track character, stories, plots and other story bits. I've set up templates for some of these, but haven't used them. Yet. (I use it to track the recipes I download from the internet - useful for searching.)

And if you are interested in checking out my list on GoodReads, you can find me here. Feel free to friend me.

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