Keeping track of how you discovered books

Goodreads has a poll asking about where you heard about the previous book you read. Here are the results:

How did you find out about the last book you read?

I voted for “blog post” because I heard about “Shape of Design” from Craig Mod’s post “Hack the Cover.” Although I had to think about it for awhile, because I read a bunch of books at once. It’s good that this poll asks about the LAST book you read, because there are so many books we read and a bunch of ways we discover books.

It would be interesting to see a log of how you discovered ALL the books you’ve read. Whenever I buy a book, I am going to keep a log on this blog post’s comments with where I heard about that book. And for cases where I put something on my Amazon wish list, I’m already in the habit of adding a comment on my wish list about where I first heard about the book.

This will be fun. I encourage everyone to keep track of where they discovered each book you read. In physical books, I write on the back page where I got the book from and the date. I wish eBooks had that feature. I suppose I could make a note in the eBook. Maybe I’ll keep track of the date purchased, where I purchased the book from, and how I discovered the book.

Hmm, it seems like goodreads should have a feature for this. Then they could do a cross-data analysis of all book discovery. It would be great if they would share their reports like how okcupid does very interesting reports on how people use their site and what sorts of people like.

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70 thoughts on “Keeping track of how you discovered books”

  1. FYI, i submitted this idea to Here’s my email to them:
    It would be really cool if there was a field on each book profile where users can say how they discovered the book. It could be a simple drop-down menu like in the poll

    That way, goodreads then can analyze how people discover books, and which types of books get discovered in which ways.

    I’d imagine it would be very valuable information for goodreads to share with publishers and readers.
    I hope they respond–or better yet, that they actually implement this.

    1. Knowing you, Matt, you would do this anyhow;)…But for the record, I’d REALLY be interested in reading/seeing any reply that GoodReads sends your way!! Great idea!

  2. ADDED TO WISH LIST: Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Read author’s other book(s)
    NOTES: Alex Marshall wrote one of my favorite books, “How Cities Work” I looked up to see what other books he wrote, and this one looks interesting. I like the idea of exploring all the underground infrastructure of cities.

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: The Surprising Design of Market Economies
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Read author’s other book(s)
    NOTES: I like Alex Marshall. His chapter “The role of government in building cities” in “How Cities Work” started to touch on the points made in this book. I’d like to hear him explain these concepts further.

  3. ADDED TO WISH LIST: A Futurist’s Manifesto: A Collection of Essays from the Bleeding Edge of Publishing
    NOTES: Around the middle of 2012, I found 14 of these essays online. (I can’t remember exactly how) I enjoyed several of the essays. And now in September 2012 I found out that there are more essays added to the book via this tweet, Even though I have the PDFs of the 14 original essays, I’d like to support the authors behind this book by having a bought copy.

  4. ADDED TO WISH LIST: “Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destructio?n” by Sabrina Chapadjiev
    DISCOVERY METHOD: goodreads
    NOTES: The author/editor of this book is a friend of mine from college. I didn’t even know she did a book until I was looking at her profile on

  5. ADDED TO WISH LIST: Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age by Ann M. Blair
    NOTES: This book is mentioned in the article on The New Atlantis

  6. ADDED TO WISH LIST: Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller’s Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages by Michael Popek
    DISCOVERY METHOD: goodreads
    NOTES: Alyse Liebovich added this to her to-read list. My comment:
    O M G
    I would love this book!
    Whenever I go to used book stores, I head to the religion section and look inside Bibles for either notes or items left behind inside

  7. ADDED TO WISH LIST: “One Million” by Hendrik Hertzberg
    DISCOVERY METHOD: google search
    NOTES: While researching for a blog post about “edition of one million” I came across this book on google.

  8. Pingback: A solution to book discovery online « Matt Maldre

  9. ADDED TO WISH LIST: “Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking” by Charles Seife
    DISCOVERY METHOD: author search
    NOTES: I’m currently re-reading “Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea.” I really enjoy how the author dances through ranging topics of math, numbers, history, religion, etymology; while writing in a style using engaging and interesting stories.

  10. ADDED TO WISH LIST: Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics: Baptism by David P. Scaer
    DISCOVERY METHOD: friend recommendation, via IM
    NOTES: talking with my brother about baptism, he recommended this book

  11. ADDED TO WISH LIST: “James, the Apostle of Faith: A Primary Christological Epistle for the Persecuted Church” by David P. Scaer
    DISCOVERY METHOD: amazon search for this author
    NOTES: After adding David Scaer’s book on baptism to my wish list, I looked around at his other books and found this one. I would like to hear a Lutheran’s take on the book of James.

  12. The last few print books I have decided to put on my wishlist or found a way to purchase were recommendations from 3 blogs, an educational course and 2 forums. I did have two very highly recommended from a friend of mine, and due to it also being recommended on the forum we both are on by someone I respect, and by three different blogs I follow, I decided to jump in with both feet and purchase it. I’ve not yet cracked the cover as I’m still currently reading 5 different books. (3 psychology related, 2 religious) – I don’t see how I could manage a sixth and keep track of them all + the television series I’m currently watching.

    The last few kindle books that I purchased were recommended reading for educational courses, an online forum and several free/discounted kindle blogs. Most have been cookbooks I cannot otherwise get in hard copy for various reasons, including living overseas.

    I did just have one recommended by a blog I’ve only recently followed, but it’s a free, pre-publishing release for copy-editing.

    There have been times though, if I really love an author, I will look for everything that they have written and just walk down the list. Alan Dean Foster or Louisa May Alcott for example. Anything, so far that I’ve read, has turned out to be really good and I don’t care how I get a physical copy in my hands, as long as I do and it’s not too badly damaged.

    Some of the religious books I read are on word of mouth via forums or other groups, but it really just depends. Some pop up as recommended reading on amazon so I’ll check into them right then and there to see if it is what I’m looking for or not, and then ask around. Not having the luxury of a store carrying those items here, it’s quite difficult to determine otherwise. Some were on recommendation from an author or two I’ve interacted with, or news articles that created great stirs on a particular subject. (David Platt’s “Radical”, for example.) – I’m from the area the author is from, and it created a great stir a couple of years ago and is again, so I figured I’d use a gift certificate I had to get the audio book. I won a copy of Rachel Held Evan’s “Biblical Womanhood” after entering contest and have gone on to highly recommend it to a few other voracious readers, personally, via email and my own blog.

    The children’s books are a bit harder to determine in retrospect where I purchased them from. Some I had previously, so they were mailed to me. Some I purchased online, and everything in German just about is from a physical store, though not all are book stores.

    I may have to start a project similar to yours to figure out how and where I’m getting everything just for the fun of it. 😉

  13. ADDED TO WISH LIST: “The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office” by Ray Fisman, Tim Sullivan
    NOTES: A blog I follow on Google Reader wrote about this book:

    I’m curious to read this book, but the reviews on says that it’s a pretty straightforward book. Jay French says, “My test of a good business book is whether it provides guides to change or it causes new thinking in the reader. In this case, the book does no prescribing of change

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age by Kate Lacey
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Friend’s blog post
    NOTES: My cousin Peter Kreten will be writing a book review on this book. He teased his upcoming review on his blog.

    BOUGHT: Luther’s World of Thought by Heinrich Bornkamm
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Blog post/article
    NOTES: As I will be leading my bible study group’s discussion on Deuteronomy 4:1-43, the research on this passage lead me to an interesting sermon, “Two-Kingdoms Activism” By John Eidsmoe One of the footnotes refers to this book.

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: “Friends of the Law: Luther’s Use of the Law for the Christian Life” by Edward Engelbrecht
    NOTES: From a blog post: I found this blog post by doing a search for “third use of the law”

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: Christmas Music Companion Fact Book
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Google Books
    NOTES: I came across this book while doing research on the history of “O Christmas Tree” for my 2013 Christmas card. I apparently pulled some rare lyrics for this song that are only mentioned three times on Google. One of those instances is in this book.

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: Re-collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Facebook Page > Blog post > Blog comment
    NOTES: The trail that lead me to this book:
    1) Looking for Facebook Pages to add to my “creativity” list
    2) Looked at the “List Suggestions” by Facebook on my “creativity” list
    3) Came to
    4) Saw this post on their Page:
    5) Clicked through to this blog post:
    6) A commenter on the blog post recommended this book.

  19. Pingback: Goodreads signups double for two years straight | Matt Maldre

  20. Pingback: For creators, searchers, readers, and curators | Matt Maldre

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: “Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered” by Austin Kleon
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Brainpickings website
    NOTES: While scrolling through my Facebook “creativity” list of pages on my iPhone, I came across this article which mentioned this book.

  22. ADDED TO WISH LIST: “Urban Interventions: Personal Projects in Public Places” by Robert Klanten and Matthias Hubner
    NOTES: While looking at public art pins on pinterest, I came across “Guerilla Art | Gardening | Knitting | Cool Street Installations & Feel-Good Public Messages” at This page lists a book, “Urban Interventions: Personal Projects in Public Places” by Robert Klanten and Matthias Hubner

  23. ADDED TO WISH LIST: Behind the Zines: Self-Publishing Culture by Robert Klanten, Adeline Mollard and Matthias Hubner (Apr 1, 2011)

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: “Urban Interventions: Personal Projects in Public Places” by Robert Klanten and Matthias Hubner

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: Brad Downey: Spontaneous Sculptures Hardcover

  24. ADDED TO WISH LIST: Fully Booked – Ink on Paper: Design and Concepts for New Publications
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Amazon related books
    NOTES: While looking at “Behind the Zines: Self-Publishing Culture” by Robert Klanten, Adeline Mollard and Matthias Hubner, Amazon suggested this other book.

  25. ADDED TO WISH LIST: Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages
    by Guy Deutscher
    DISCOVERY METHOD: IM chat with friend
    NOTES: Jed and I were talking about the hexvalue clock, “what colour is it?” He says, “Have you read this book? You might find it interesting. Did you know the Ancient Greeks had no words for colors? They basically didn’t think about colors, or even really see colors. The most interesting ideas could be described in about 20 pages, instead of a whole book, so I don’t really recommend reading it. But it changes the way I think about language and how we visualize things.”

  26. I can’t believe it’s been five months since I’ve added a new book to this list.

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: The Fire And The Staff: Lutheran Theology In Practice Paperback by Klemet I. Preus
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Blog via feedly

  27. ADDED TO WISH LIST: “The Joy of Keeping Score: How Scoring the Game Has Influenced and Enhanced the History of Baseball” by Paul Dickson
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Referral link to my blog post
    NOTES: I was looking at the referrals to my blog, Someone had wrote a blog post about this book. In the sidebar on his site, there is a link to my blog, because I left a pingback to this post:

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: “Baseball Scorekeeping: A Practical Guide to the Rules” by Andres Wirkmaa
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Amazon’s “Frequently Bought Together”
    NOTES: This book was recommended when I was looking at “The Joy of Keeping Score”

  28. Pingback: The discovery metadata field - Matt Maldre

  29. After seven years of not keeping track of books, I’m adding two the list. Maybe I’ll continue to keep track again.

    ADDED TO WISH LIST: “The art and craft of approaching your head of department to submit a request for a raise” by Georges Perec
    ADDED TO WISH LIST: “Life, a user’s manual” by Georges Perec
    DISCOVERY METHOD: Author search on Worldcat
    NOTES: I was trying to find out why I added Georges Perec’s book, “An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris” to my Amazon wish list on Dececmber 29, 2015. Seven years later my cousin Peter noted that he just so happened to come across this same book in a search. While looking up the reason, I came across a couple more books by Perec that looked interesting and were available at nearby libraries.


  • The discovery metadata field - Matt Maldre
  • For creators, searchers, readers, and curators | Matt Maldre
  • Goodreads signups double for two years straight | Matt Maldre
  • A solution to book discovery online « Matt Maldre

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