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Topic: How do YOU keep track of all your mystery series?

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Subject: How do YOU keep track of all your mystery series?
Date Posted: 12/22/2008 3:55 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
Posts: 310
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I am taking a survey.  How do you keep track of all the mystery series you are reading?  For example I am finished with book 1 of the P.B. Ryan series, book 2 of the Susan Hill series, book 3 of the Julia Spencer-Fleming series, book 4 of the Fred Vargas series, etc..  Many of these I check out of the library or give to my sister when I am finished with them.  Some I am waiting for the next installment.  Others I have just not read yet.  But, how do you keep track of where you are in each series? How do you know when the next book comes out to buy it?

Do you make a list in a journal? Keep all the books? Track them here at PBS (and how do you do it?) Make a list on Amazon.com? Read only one authors' series at a time? Just keep it in your head?  I guess I am looking for a better way to organize my mysteries other than "Oh, did she write another book? I should look that up!"  I also think this will help me before I start yet another series....


Any thoughts?



Date Posted: 12/22/2008 4:53 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,223
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 I have a list in Word that I keep track of things on or I'd completely forget what I've read and what I haven't. It's alphabetized by author and contains books I've read (font is in red), books I have but haven't read and books I don't have yet (bolded).  I've copied and pasted a small portion of it (it's actually 42 pages long) so you can see what I mean. It's primitive but it works and I do remember to update it regularly.

Kate Collins
Flower shop series
  • Mums the Word – have/READ/LOVED IT
  • Slay it with Flowershaven’t read/don’t have
  • Dearly Depotted – read/don’t have
  • Snipped in the Bud – read/don’t have
  • Acts of Violets – have/haven’t read
  • A Rose from the Dead – have/haven’t read

Last Edited on: 12/22/08 4:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 12/22/2008 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,603
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I use SYKM (stopyourekillingme.com) a lot...and Fantastic Fiction (fantasticfiction.co.uk) for those few I can't find there.

I do have a journal where I do reviews of what I've read each month, but also to keep track of my various series, I have a Word document where I list different series and "where I am" in the series. For example, an entry might look something like this:

Margaret Maron (Judge Deborah Knott series) (this isn't in the actual right order--just an example)

  • Bootlegger's Daughter
  • Southern Discomfort
  • Shooting at Loons
  • Up Jumps the Devil
  • Uncommon Clay (need RL)
  • Storm Track (need RL)
  • HIgh Country Fall (need--audio from library?)
  • list more next printing...

The struck-thru ones I've read, the ones without anything in parentheses I have already on my TBR shelf, the ones that specify (need--RL or WL or library list). I periodically print out the list (I have MANY different series going, so it's about a dozen or more pages long!) and then keep it next to my computer, and I refer to it and cross off what I've read as I go along. Then I go through the document before printing a new set every few months and update--add more books to the bottom of the list, strike off or eliminate those I've read, change status on those that I've obtained or wishlisted, etc. It works for me--mostly I'm fanatic about reading series in order, so unless I've noted somewhere, I know I'm going through in order.


Last Edited on: 12/22/08 4:56 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/22/2008 5:33 PM ET
Member Since: 1/26/2006
Posts: 318
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My system sounds very much like Susan's and probably has as many (or more) pages.  I will usually use Stop You're Killing Me to get a list of the books for a series and I list them by author.  I will highlight the book I've read (and make a notation of the date I read it along with a numbered rating)......books I have on the TBR pile are highlighed with a different color.....and books I have Wish Listed are highlighted with another color.  (I'm doing this using the table feature in Word).

I'm retired, so I have lots of time to spend on booklists :)  But it does help me quickly see if I have read a certain book, or if it's on the TBR pile somewhere.

I don't usually keep my books, except for a few favorite series.  Most of them go back on PBS.  I have way too many series started, and wish I could catch up with some of them!

Date Posted: 12/22/2008 6:05 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2005
Posts: 5,238
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I have a large spreadsheet where I list and keep track of all of the series that I am reading and/or collecting with the intention of reading in the future.  Not just mysteries series, but also romance, fantasy, paranormal, historical fiction, etc.  

So as soon as I "acquire" a book in a series, I decide whether I want to read the series by reading the reviews on Amazon and other sites.   If I decide that I'm going for it, I'll look up the series on SYKM or FantasticFiction and list all of the books in the series on the spreadsheet.  Then as I collect and read books in the series, I mark them off on the spreadsheet.

I have to admit that if I had set up the entire spreadsheet at one time, it would have been a big job.  But it started out small and grew large so it's pretty easy to keep up with.   I keep a printout of the spreadsheet in my purse at all times - just in case I go to a USB or FOTL - so that I don't accidently buy a book that I already have.

Date Posted: 12/22/2008 9:34 PM ET
Member Since: 12/16/2008
Posts: 9
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I put them all in my calendar at work ,so that it pops up my upcoming events each week, so I remember when the books are going to be released. I use Amazon to track when new books are coming out, because the tend to have release dates available for pre-order or to send an email to remind me.

Ellie (EllieW) - ,
Date Posted: 12/22/2008 11:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/5/2007
Posts: 1,479
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I use this book to keep track of series. http://www.amazon.com/Detecting-Women-Readers-Checklist-Mystery/dp/0964459353

I have it and also " Detecting Men" for the male authors. I write in the newer authors that aren't listed. I wish an updated version would come out. Both books are small enough to make them easy to carry in my purse.

Date Posted: 12/23/2008 9:34 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
Posts: 310
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These are good suggestions!

What I have decided to do in the meantime is to print out the lists of books on cozy-mystery.com, fantasticfiction.uk and stopyourkillingme.com  Then cross out the ones I have read, and make notes on where to find the others ('PBS' for this site, 'L' for the library).  Yes, this does sound a bit lazy compared to other readers, but I think this will help me know where I am in some series so I can "finish" them and plot out when to start others.  If this does not work out, I may try writing my own spreadsheet.

cozy-mystery.com is very helpful as it gives me plenty of room to write next to each title.  Plus, it breaks down each author's novels by series, and does not take up too many sheets of paper.


Thanks for everyone's suggestions!  Maybe we should start a 'To Be Read' support group for mystery readers and their addictions! :)


Date Posted: 12/23/2008 9:34 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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to know the order of the series I also use Stop You're Killing Me and then keep all of the books that I have read on Goodreads.  The nice thing with Goodreads is that I can keep track of all of the books in my TBR pile (which I know you can do here too) and do a search on all of my shelves to see what I have by an author and what I have read

Date Posted: 12/23/2008 11:44 AM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 10,713
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I use a program called Book Bag that syncs with my Windows Mobile based cell phone.  I look up the series info (order, etc) from Stop You're Killing Me! or a similar website, then I enter the info in Book Bag.  This allows me to keep track of what volume a book is in a series, if I have read it or not, if I own it, if it is on my PBS wishlist, etc.

Date Posted: 12/24/2008 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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I just use the tools on this site. When I add a book to my WL or RL, I always tag it with "3rd in series" or whatever. Then I just choose them in order. PBS also keeps track of BIR and lets me write notes and reviews on each book. If this place ever goes down, I will be in a world of hurt!
Date Posted: 12/24/2008 10:28 AM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2008
Posts: 1,673
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Do the 42 slips of paper hanging around here count as "keeping track"?  I mean, they have author names and the list and # of the books in the series.  Oh, I also draw a line  thru the title  when I get the book in question........This could be why I have bought/ordered multiples of the same book, huh?  Ok, so, maybe don't take my suggestion, it doesn't seem to be working as well as I would like.....

Date Posted: 12/31/2008 7:29 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2007
Posts: 117
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I use an Excel workbook spreadsheet on my computer - a tab for each authors name and then the list of books in the series - here's a screenshot of my books for Mary Daheim:



Date Posted: 12/31/2008 8:22 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2008
Posts: 420
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I have a list of books to get, which helps me keep track. I like the stopyourekillingme site, and I also belong to the mystery listserv DorothyL, which is a big help. I don't have too much problem keeping up with new books in a series, but I do have problems remembering what's happening in each series. Sometimes if it's been long enough, and I think that knowing the background is important,  I'll go back to the beginning and re-read everything to catch up. That's usually more important in SF than mysteries though.

Date Posted: 1/1/2009 8:26 AM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
Posts: 6,362
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I keep it in my head.  If I'm not sure if I've read a book, I read the synopsis.  If I read it, I should be able to remember something about it.

The longest-running series I read is the Didius Falco by Lindsey Davis and I managed to pick that one back up and fill in some without a problem.

Geri (geejay) -
Date Posted: 1/12/2009 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2008
Posts: 9,094
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I use a Works database.  I have one list called library - those are all the books I've read.  The other list is Read.  All the books I have in my hot little hands just waiting for me to read it.

I can cut and paste the information from read to library with no problem.  So when I finish a book I transfer it from read to library and now post it here!

I have them listed like this:

Title  Main character  Series #  Author (by last name)  Publisher  Copywrite date   Date acquired   Genre

I also have them in the order I want to read them.  If I didn't do that each new book would get read and the older ones would be still waiting for me.  Naturally, they're my books so if something strikes my fancy - I'm reading it! 

Date Posted: 1/13/2009 12:41 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,931
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Carol G. - I can definitely relate to your system. Actually, you have more of a system than I do. How many times have I purchased a book only to start reading it and say to myself "this sounds familiar"? You would think that with a memory like that they would all seem new to me even if I'm reading it for the 2nd or 3rd time. Perhaps I should actually try one of the systems mentioned here!!

Sharon C. (Mamu) - ,
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 6:10 PM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
Posts: 1,154
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I use my Palm (no not my palm, my Palm PDA--LOL)  I have a memo field set up for mysteries.  Under the memo, I use their category fields as the authors.  I usually cut and paste from Stop You're Killing Me.  So I have the author and the vairous series'.  When I acquire a book, I put a circle beside it; when I've read it, I put an X.  A new addition I've done is to note now "on order, PBS" so I don't accidentally buy one I've ordered already.  (Did that twice!)   I can note the stuff on the Palm Desktop (btw, I think that is a free download from PalmOne website) and then Hot Sync it into my Palm so I have it with me.  This system has sure made my life a lot simpler esp. when I'm out of town and go book shopping.

Date Posted: 1/20/2009 11:55 AM ET
Member Since: 11/10/2006
Posts: 1,251
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I keep my list in a note book.  Then there are the ones I keep on my keeper shelf.  So I just watch this website or sykm or good reads for up dates on when the new releases will be.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 1/20/2009 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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lol. I havent even attempted to keep track, but I am starting to get overwhelmed, so i better start. I have an access database to track our movies (we own well over a 1000 and we loan them to friends/family). I dont think I need something that big for my series, but the more I participate on this website the more series I keep finding. For now, I have a couple of lists of series and their order, and then I line them up on the shelf. I am pretty good about knowing whether I read something or not. Although, I picked up the Sue Grafton, A is for Alibi after it had been on my shelf for a year and decided to read it. About half way through I realized I had read it before.  

Date Posted: 1/23/2009 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 1/9/2006
Posts: 760
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I'm a list maker.  And I've never lost my love of pen and paper.  I get the Moleskine Notebooks and keep a running list of what I've read.  In another I have a list of books in a series and I check them off as I read them.  I am an admitted nerd. lol

Date Posted: 1/25/2009 9:02 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2007
Posts: 131
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I use the computer to keep track of what I own, read, have on the shelf and my rating of the book.  I am using microsoft office and have a spread sheet listing all my criteria. 

Since they put up the spread sheet by authors it is alphabetical and easy to track.  BTW one of my columns is for the main character so I can keep track of series.


Date Posted: 1/25/2009 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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I just stick them on my WL here, and when I go book shopping, I print off the WL and take it with me.

Date Posted: 1/25/2009 8:47 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2008
Posts: 273
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I don't keep track except in my head.  Once,  I got part way through a book and realized I knew already knew what was going to happen next....unfortunatley that was the only book I had with me....and 1 1/2 hours to kill.  That doesn't normally happen....accidently rereading a book or only having one with me.



Date Posted: 2/14/2009 7:18 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2006
Posts: 2,346
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Fantastic Fiction

Stop, You're Killing Me!

I keep these three sites on my favorite places list-( right below PBS)-

I print out the lists of books for authors I am reading-

I keep the lists (hard copies) in alphabetical order in a plastic pull -out drawer right behind my computer-

These lists help me see the correct chronological order of each book in the series I am reading . 

I can keep track of what I have wishlisted, ordered, received , already read , or waiting to read -

This system works for me-