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I read a lot of different books (both physical and electronic) at the same time, trying to complete one chapter during each work session. The physical books are in different locations.

I'm looking for an app that lets me enter the name of a book, and then I would indicate the number of chapters in the book. Once the books are all entered, there should be an interface to let me indicate that I finished chapter 1, 2, .... (just the numbers). I would like some sort of dashboard where I can see where I am in each book, so that I know what I have completed and what still needs to be done.

I could code up my own system using Google sheets and Google forms, however I did not want to do that until I knew there were no existing apps to do this.

If anyone knows any applications that do something similar to this, that would be helpful too. I don't mind changing my process around a bit if I can accomplish the same goal.

migrated from productivity.stackexchange.com Jun 17 '15 at 7:34

  • Do you really need a hi-tech solution? Can't you just put a (very light) pencil-mark tick next to each chapter in the table of contents as you read them? Or use Post-it(TM) notes? That seems a lot easier to set up & to verify (batteries not included) – Mawg Jun 17 '15 at 13:06
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I think any good task management app would do this if it knows a concept of "projects" (i.e. a group of tasks that belong to each other). A chapter would be a task, a book would be a project.

Taskwarrior will let you do this, my approach would be a project read and subprojects for each book (subprojects are created with a dot like this project:read.RapidDevelopment). The summary command then gives you a bar chart output of the reading project, and you can output burndown charts of your reading progress (task burndown project:read).

Taskwarrior is mainly a command line tools, but syncs with servers and there are mobile apps. Use the search function for details + links.

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In addition to use a project within a task manager, which I've done successfully in the past, there are some specialised apps available. You have a small app called BookKeep (for ios), you have goodreads.com which supposedly is a good tool to track both which books you have read, and how far you've come in each book (howto mark progress and how to track reading progress).

If using a task manager, here are two extra tips: First of in some trackers you can enter how many hours needed to complete a task, and then you enter how many hours you've worked so far. This can easily translate into pages in a book.

The second one is to make a dummy entry containing ten chapters, i.e #0, #1, #2, ..., #9, so that when you start a new book you copy the dummy entry into a subsection, i.e. #0x (for the first ten chapters), #1x, for second ten chapters), and so on. (I've also used this numbering scheme to help me keep track of which albums/books I've got in a given serie)

Both of these tips needs a percent indicator to help you visualize how far you've gotten in the specific book, but those are easily available.

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Another not so very technical but very visual way to is to make a note where each line is a book starting with the book title followed by one dot or a single dash for each chapter (five chapters/dots/dashes in each group). When a chapter is read you overwrite the dot/dash with a cross or star, whatever make sense to you.

Learning C : ***.. ..... ...
The Book   : xxxxx ----- ----- ---

Explanation of example: You've read three of the thirteen chapters of "Learning C", and five of the eighteen chapters of "The Book".

A variant over this theme could be to write the book title on one line followed by the number of chapters, and then simply use vertical lines for each chapter, with every fifth line crossing the preceding four lines (like counting roman style).

This last variant has the advantage of easily seeing how many chapters you've read, but it's not as good as the first to see how close you are too finishing the book.

Added benefit of these methods are that they can be done either using a digital or analog notebook! When finished reading some books it will be very pleasing seeing all the crosses/stars indicating how much you've read!

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