Book Tag: the Finished Books tag

A pair of burgundy boots rest on a bookshelf of fantasy novels

Happy Sunday! It’s a chill morning, so today I’m here to accept Mayri the BookForager’s challenge and take the Finished Books tag (created by Headless Books).

That’s Finished Books, not Finnish Books – although if it were a Finnish book tag, I’d… be very bad at it. I don’t think I’ve read any Finnish books, although I’ve got Memory of Water on my shelf and a desire to explore the works of Johanna Sinisalo.

Ahem. Anyway. Moving right along.

Do you keep a list of the books you have read?

Absolutely. Look, I’m a project manager. I live on lists. A well-structured list lets you make a pivot table, and let me talk to you about – actually, no, don’t. Trust me, they’re fab. But (and I can hear my beloved raising an eyebrow even as I type this) even I don’t always need a pivot table.

Lists, though. I love a good list.

Back in my LiveJournal days I had an annual post that I updated as I finished each book so I could look back at year’s end to see what I’d read. When I moved to LibraryThing, I kept a list at the top of my annual reading thread in the Green Dragon (…I miss the Green Dragon. I should go back to the Green Dragon). I used Goodreads for the first couple of years of blogging and reflected each year on just how unhelpful that was.

Since joining Nikki’s annual Game of Books, I’ve had a far better overview of what I’ve read and what I thought of it. Last year, I also adopted Kal’s epic book blogging spreadsheet and (being an Excel nerd) promptly made a bunch of changes to fit in with my habits. So now I keep, um, two lists (which is fine by me). Kal’s makes it easy to generate my monthly update on reading stats; the Game of Books gives me a quick view of how much I loved it.

If you record statistics, what statistics do you record?

I keep my stats fairly lightweight. I may not mind updating two separate spreadsheets, but I don’t have a burning need to know everything about my reading. So I currently keep tabs on various diversity indicators (because when I stopped and checked my reading ten years ago it was mostly white blokes; not because they were the best, but because they’d been the easiest to find/buy); whether I’m reading books by authors who live beyond the US/UK bubble; publication year; genre; audience; where I got the book from and how many pages were in it. 

Do you give star ratings for books and if so, what do you score books out of and how do you come about this score?

I do. I’ve bounced between scores out of 5 or 10 for years; I’ve ended up back on 5 stars, but (unlike bloody Goodreads) I award half stars so technically it’s still a 10 point scale.

Over the past few days, I’ve found myself considering whether to stop including the star rating in the body of my review posts. I find the score a useful shorthand, but I’m comfortable letting my words stand alone as an assessment. I’m not going to go back and remove them on older posts and I am still going to include them in the tags and on my monthly round-up posts.

I award on gut feel when I finish the book based on a combination of enjoyment and my opinion of the book’s worth. I don’t have a series of indicators to measure worth – it’s instinctive and subjective. I nudge the score up or down because I really loved it, worth be damned; or because I think it has particular merit, even though I didn’t enjoy it (a recent example: I didn’t enjoy The Light Brigade AT ALL because I don’t enjoy military POVs, but it’s a well-written book that deserves to be read. I gave it 4 stars). I sometimes find myself tweaking the rating later – either because I think about it a bit harder as write my review, or just because sometimes my response develops over time.

Here’s an old post with my broad indications of what my scores mean – I should really update it.

Do you review books?



Yes, I’m kidding.

I’ve been putting reviews online in one place or another for nearly 15 years; There’s Always Room For One More will turn 5 this November (the older reviews were re-posted to and in some cases rewritten for this blog).

Where do you put your finished books?

Um, back on my shelf? (if it’s an ebook, it sits on my device until the review is written, then gets banished back into cloud storage)

Although there is a shelf for ‘take me to the charity shop, I’m never getting read again’. It just doesn’t see much use.

I feel like I’ve missed some extravagant opportunities here, but I’m not here to abuse books – if I didn’t like it, somebody else may. The bestseller lists prove that.

How do you pick your next book?

Ah. those heady days of reading entirely on a whim! I remember you well, how it felt to sit and stare at the bookshelf and be totally overwhelmed by the act of choice. 

I still read on a whim to some extent, but the range of choice is now generally constrained by my commitments: blog tours, ARC release dates, Subjective Chaos Kind of Award nominees, and so on. It’s very rare that those commitments constrain me to This One Book, Right Now (although that is in fact the case this weekend. Thankfully it’s also a book I really want to read right now, so that’s convenient).

Still, you can expect me to whinge at some point in late spring or summer, when my whim says SF but my commitments are all fantasy (or vice versa).

Do you have any other rituals for when you have finished a book?

I light a candle and make a sacrifice to the Cheese Gods, then –

– no, no rituals. At least, not like that.

However, I suppose the meticulous updating of Goodreads, LibraryThing, and the Game of Books and Reading Tracker spreadsheets probably counts!

Fancy sharing what formalities you’ve put around your reading habits? Tag yourself in! I’m not going to explicitly tag anyone today, but if you do take part, please link back to this post so I know to come read your post.