Evernote Essentials: The Reading List

Screenshot of my Evernote Reading List Notebook

One of my go-to uses of Evernote is a Personal Reading List. I only use this list for keeping track of the books I would like to read, and that media differentiation is important. Articles & webpages to read are sent to Pocket. Academic PDFs are kept in Papers. The reading list, then, is filled mostly with general fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and academic monographs. Information about these books is sent to Evernote via one of several capture points:

  • If I see tweets about a book, I typically search for that book on Powells or Worldcat and clip the book. This gives me a nice cover image and helpful info like an ISBN.
  • If the book is mentioned in a news article or blog post, I simply clip that page. There are a fair number of posts from the Millions in my reading list.
  • If the book is suggested in conversation, I quickly enter it with Drafts and send it to Evernote.
  • I typically read print magazines on my train commute, and I’ll often see mention of a book in Harpers or Fantasy & Science Fiction. In that event, I will take a picture of the page, annotate the image in Skitch, and send it to Evernote (screenshot below).

A page from Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine, with a red box around the books being reviewed.

Regardless of capture method, the book info is sent to my @inbox. From there, I attach any additional information and send it to my “Reading List” notebook–with one note per book to read. I also attach tags–non-fiction, science fiction, academic, literary, etc–to the notes, helping me quickly find specific genres when at the bookstore or filling out an Interlibrary Loan Request.

Evernote isn’t the most elegant means of managing a reading list, but it’s the easiest to manage. I’ve also made a concerted effort to minimize the number of software solutions in my life, and an Evernote reading list helps me to maintain some degree of simplicity.

Finally, I take fairly extensive notes on the things I read. When I acquire a book in my Reading List, I move the book’s note to a notebook called “Reading Notes.” From there, I update that note with a summary, a response, and any helpful or interesting quotations. This workflow allows me to prune the Reading List and to keep an archive of reading notes and books read in a given time period.

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