Airtable is like Excel on drugs. It creates a database for information that is searchable, shareable, sortable, and connected to related records and so it’s one of my favorite tools to use for organizing information, especially for my blog. That being said, it can be rather overwhelming and so I’m providing this guide to help you navigate my Airtable database of all of the books in my library which include all of the books I’ve read and that I have either already published a review for, which can be found on my Master List of Every Book I’ve Ever Read, or have a review pending and all of the books that I plan on reading which can be found on my Neverending To Be Read List.
Table of Contents:
How is it organized?
It’s organized by Author last name, for example, “Bardugo, Leigh” is before “Green, John” which is before “Mass, Sarah J.” Secondly, it’s organized by book name with the series first and then the number of the book and then the name of the book in alphabetical order. For example: “A Court of Thorns and Roses Series Book 1: A Court of Thorns and Roses”. If multiple series belong to the same universe, as with Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse which contains the Shadow and Bone trilogy, Six of Crows duology, and King of Scars duology, then the universe name comes first so as to simplify questions about reading order. For example: “Grishaverse Book 1: Shadow and Bone Series Book 1: Shadow and Bone”. All novellas are listed at the end of the series as the series name, novella number, and novella name. For example: “A Court of Thorns and Roses Series Novella: A Court of Frost and Starlight”.
There’s an abundance of additional information that’s included in my library database including separate views based on the status of my reading of the books. Books I’ve read can be seen on my Master List of Every Book I’ve Ever Read and books that I plan to read can be seen on What I’m Reading Next and my Neverending To Be Read List. Keep in mind that if I haven’t read the book myself then information about it such as what age range it is appropriate for, reading order, and additional information provided in my Airtable library view may not be entirely accurate and is based on information generally acquired from Goodreads.
How do I rate books?
The next column of information that you’ll find is the rating that I gave the book from one to five stars and while this is subjective, my rating system for the overall quality of the book greatly limits the number of one and five-star reviews that I give out. A book gets one star only if it is so terrible that I could not finish it, or was triggering, traumatizing, and otherwise for no reason other than to shock readers. If a book got a one-star rating I not only don’t recommend reading it but consider it damaging to its readers. A book might also get a one-star review if I’ve blacklisted an author. Here you can see my List of Blacklisted Authors. In order to have been black listed an author must have behaved in a way that I am unwilling to support and each author that is black listed has a linked author page in which I go into detail about the behavior that got them blacklisted.
If a book gets five stars, it was life-changing, or I have enjoyed it so much that I have continually reread it. Books that initially got four stars may move up to five stars if I go back to reread it several times because even if the quality of the book isn’t the best in the world, I connected to it more deeply than the other books on my shelves.
A two-star rating means that the book was bad and I probably wouldn’t recommend it, but I might give it another chance. If a book gets three stars it was okay, I liked it but I didn’t love it. If a book gets four stars then I enjoyed it and would probably recommend it.
Here you can find a complete List of My Five-Star Reads.
What’s a spice rating?
I have an entirely separate rating for “spice” which is just in reference to how much sex is in the book. The books I read can range from middle grade with absolutely no spice to erotica which is a lot of spice. I want to be certain that my audience knows how to judge whether the sexual content is age-appropriate for them and something that they are comfortable with. Because of this, any level of intimacy beyond kissing gets a one-star spice rating. This is a young adult-appropriate level of spice and something I would be comfortable recommending to mature middle school audiences. No book that has above a one-star spice rating will be placed under the genre “Young Adult” regardless of how publishers advertise the book. One such example of this would be the “A Court of Thorns and Roses Series”, which I consider “New Adult” or “Adult”. A two-star spice rating means that the book has one or two sex scenes included. A three-star spice rating means that the book has a few sex scenes or the sex is explicit in nature, but sex is not maneuvering the plot, and the book would still be very good if you chose to skip over the sex scenes entirely. A four-star spice rating is now in the range of book porn or erotica. There is a plot that exists within the novel beyond sex but the main purpose of the novel is pornographic. A five-star spice rating is very rare but references books that are essentially just sex, they exist solely for the sake of sex, and if you’re looking for a novel that gets to the spicy content quickly and has it on nearly every page one of these is likely to do that for you.
Here you can find my List of My Favorite Spicy Novels.
How do I assign genres to a book?
The next column of information is the genre of a book, of which you will find that every book has multiple. This is because I don’t believe any book belongs to a single genre, moreover, there are genre recommendations based on recommended age range, character representation, own voices authors, certain kinds of characters, and more. Each genre is individually defined on its respective genre page which can be found on my Master List of Every Book I’ve Ever Read or the definitions can be viewed on my Defining Genres post. One example would be that the “Action” genre is defined by me as “spy novels, adventure stories, and cloak and dagger mysteries” and based on this definition all “Adventure” stories and all “Mysteries” would also belong to the umbrella genre of “Action”.
You can easily search for books within a specific genre by selecting the individual genre from the list on my Master List of Every Book I’ve Ever Read or you can use the “Filter” function on Airtable to select multiple or rule out a genre entirely.
Genres allow you to search for an age range, which is split into “Children’s” “Young Adult” “New Adult” and “Adult”, books written or featuring marginalized communities, such as “Disabled Characters” “LGBTQ+ Characters” and “POC Characters”, “Disabled Protagonist” “LGBTQ+ Protagonist” and “POC Protagonist” or “Disabled Authors” “LGBTQ+ Authors” and “POC Authors” and much more.
When deciding whether a book has representation of a marginalized community I look for a character to be explicitly described with a skin tone that is not white, having a specific disability or having interactions about sex, romance, or gender that would make them not cisgender and heterosexual. Not all books featuring characters from marginalized communities do a good job representing those characters, especially if the author is not also a member of those communities and so I do my best to identify marginalized characters that are exoticized, tokenized, or otherwise stereotyped to fit a role. I also encourage you to check the Trigger Warnings because even when a character is well written there can still be associated trauma written into their story that could be harmful to you.
In my opinion, authors from these communities do the best job of writing characters from their communities and are listed under “Own Voices Authors” however, I do not make determinations about whether or not someone is a member of these communities based on how they appear, I only list someone as part of a marginalized community if they have self-identified that way. I cannot make determinations about someone’s identity or dictate how they should identify themselves and my personal opinion is that trying to decide for an author, celebrity, or any individual what their identity is and whether or not they are taking away opportunities from members of a community they may or may not be a part of is incredibly harmful and exclusionary. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am incredibly disappointed in the ways that many LGBTQ+ authors have been forced out of the closet by “fans” who feel entitled to know their identity. LGBTQ+ and Disabled identities are often invisible and I am not entitled to know whether someone is a member of those communities. I also recognize that members of communities of color including but not limited to Asian, LatinX, Indigenous, and African American people can be white-passing because of genetics inherited through biracial marriage or ancestral rape and these things do not negate their experiences as part of those communities. White supremacists and a society based on white supremacy have marginalized all of these communities in different ways and it is important to hear their voices, but it is not more important than the privacy of these individuals and so authors are only listed as being a part of one or more of these categories if they have self-identified as being a part of that community. Based on that same logic I also don’t negate an identity that an author claims for themself. Forming opinions about whether someone is “black” enough, “disabled” enough, or “gay” enough are rooted in white supremacy.
Why do I care if it was an ARC?
At the end of the day, this information is mostly irrelevant but in between the time I received it as an Advanced Reader’s Copy and when it is released you will be able to see my rating for the book even though it is marked as “not yet released.” Since I don’t receive many ARC’s it is unlikely that I will be a good resource to see whether an upcoming anticipated book is good. In the future, if I am sent more ARC’s, this information might be a good place for you to determine whether a book is worth buying.
How do I know the reading order of a series?
The next column of information will tell you about what series the book belongs to with links to all the relevant records for that series in reading order. This means that if there are novellas within the series and you’re unsure of where to read them you can look at this column of information to see exactly what order all of the novels and novellas I suggest to read them in.
Sometimes there are multiple ways to read a series in which case I will list them in the order I prefer in the “Series” column and you can find all of the various ways to read the series in that series review which can be found on my blog if I have read it.
What is a serial?
A serial is a kind of series in which each individual book is a complete story but all of the stories are linked by a greater background. These are very common in the romance genre and you can start a serial series at any point in the series and get a somewhat cohesive story but by starting at the beginning you will have a greater understanding of the characters throughout the series.
This kind of book is denoted with a checkmark on my Airtable Library.
What is a standalone?
I consider a book a standalone if it is not a part of a series in any way. If a book could exist on its own but doesn’t, for example, contributes to a series or is part of an otherwise existing universe, I do not consider it a standalone and this box will not be checked.
When is a book series considered complete?
If the box for the next column “completed” is checked that means that the book or series is complete and, as of posting, there are no current plans that have been announced to expand upon the book or series with additional novels or novellas. These are my favorite kinds of series because I have a tendency to binge read a lot of content all at once and then fall into a hangover for days, weeks, months, or even years during which I won’t read anything and I don’t want to feel like I have to keep track of when the release date for many different series are because I have ADHD and know that without seeing it directly in front of my face I will forget.
Keep in mind that if a book series is not marked as “Read” through the entire series on my Airtable view of my Library I cannot guarantee that the series is actually completed. The information I provide on my To Be Read entries are based on information available on Goodreads and Storygraph and not on my own experiences of the books and unfortunately book series are sometimes never finished, either because an author decides that they aren’t going to write any more books or is unable to, or more commonly because a publishing house decides not to purchase the rest of the books in a series.
If a series is incomplete and they’ve announced how many other books are intended for a series there will be placeholders for those books that can be seen on my Neverending To Be Read List and my List of Books That Are Coming Soon organized by Series Name, Book Number, and then Book Name if it has been announced or “Unknown” if the book name hasn’t been publicized yet. Additionally, if the series is complete except for possible prequels, epilogues, or novellas then the series will be marked as complete because the main books and everything that’s needed to understand the series is complete.
How do I know when the next book comes out?
If a book series is incomplete, or additional novellas, companion novels, prequels, or otherwise have been announced they will have entries with a checkmark under “Not Yet Released” to let you know that those books do not yet exist.
The “Release Date” column immediately following will tell you when that book is expected to be published if the information has been announced. Because the date column requires a day, month, and year, for books whose information only includes the year of release the “release date” will be listed as December 1st of that year until a more precise release date is announced by the publisher. Or if the month and year have been announced it will be listed as the first day of that month and year.
Some older books including classics written more than 100 years ago do not include precise release dates and so those are also listed as precisely as can be estimated or having been released at the end of the known year of release. These are not intended for perfect historical accuracy and generally reflect information that I acquired through Goodreads.
Additionally, it will tell you when any other book was released. When choosing books to read for a month, one of my criteria is that I read at least one book that’s five years or older so that I don’t get tired of what’s being published right now. You can see all of the criteria that I use to diversify my own reading and push myself outside of my comfort zone on my What I’m Reading Next which will also tell you what books I’m planning on reading over the course of the year. I have a tendency to fall into one genre or trope and then become bored, even though I do enjoy a wide variety of genres. In order to prevent that boredom, which usually ends in me not reading anything at all, I’m forcing myself to read other genres, authors, and tropes than I might default to so that I don’t fall into a reading rut.
Additionally, if you’re like me and are forgetful about which books are coming out then the “Release Date” column may be useful for you because you can go to the List of Books That Are Coming Soon and view which releases are coming next.
How do I find your recommended reads?
Under the “Recommended Reads” column I will list the suggestions that I have for what books to read next based on my own opinions of similar books that I’ve read and for books that I haven’t read I use the suggestions from Goodreads and Storygraph, and the recommendations on What Should I Read Next? I try to provide at least two recommendations for each book that I’ve read.
What is a book cycle?
A book cycle is what I have named the rounds of books that I will be reading in order to meet all of my goals which are described in detail on my What I’m Reading Next post. Because many of my books meet multiple of my goals I have assigned them to “cycles” that I can use a different kind of view to see and schedule on a calendar.
When do you plan to read the books on your TBR?
I read about a book every other day and so I have organized my To Be Read list into cycles of books that I plan to read based on my reading goals for the year which can be seen on my What I’m Reading Next post. Also on that post is a view of my calendar with when I’m planning to read each book.
How can I use the dates and number of reads?
I provide information about when I originally read the book, when the last time I read the book was, and when I last updated the listing for the book on my Airtable Library and these can all be used to help my audience make determinations about how accurate my review of the book might be and this might impact how much faith you have in my opinion. If I have only read the book once or read it a very long time ago my memory of that book might not be very good or my review might have missed some things. If the date last modified is a while ago new information may have been released about an unpublished book that I haven’t had time to add. If new information about the author has recently come to light that would lead to them being blacklisted I might not have updated all of my listings of their work yet. As with everyone, I am an ever-changing individual and my opinions change with my exposure to information so an older review might be irrelevant.
Additionally, I provide the number of times I’ve read a book which can also help with this. If I’ve read a book over a dozen times I clearly enjoy that book and it might be worth the read.
How can I use the number of pages?
After that, we have the “Number of Pages”. Since this is an exact number of pages based on the details included on Goodreads you can get a good idea of how long the book might take you to read.
Additionally, you can use the “Filter” tool on Airtable to narrow down a range of pages that you would like to read. For example, select “Filter” and then “Add filter” and then select the column you would like to filter, in this case, “Number of Pages” and “>” (the greater than symbol) for the minimum number of pages you’re interested in reading and then repeat with the “<“ (less than) symbol for the maximum number of pages you’re interested in reading. This can make it abundantly easier to find a quick read for the beach or a longer book to dive into and it makes it so that you don’t start reading something only to discover that it’s far longer than you have time or interest for.
Is the book coming to TV?
Next, we have whether or not the book has or is planned to have a TV adaptation. If a book is planned to have a television debut but hasn’t yet then this box will still be checked off but you can see those books on my List of Books Coming to Television Soon.
Did it make you cry?
Following that we have a column “Did it make me cry?” which I think is one of the more subjective categorizations on this database because depending on what kind of mood I’m in just about anything can make me cry. That being said, if you’re looking for a sad book it’s a good bet that it probably made me cry. If you really want to find a sad book that intentionally made me cry I do have a List of Books I Guarantee Will Make You Sob.
Did you see it recommended on TikTok?
I see a massive number of books on TikTok every year and many of the books on my To Be Read list are from recommendations on TikTok. Be that as it may, it is also a goal of mine to find books that I haven’t seen on TikTok to read and I want to recommend books that aren’t already the new obsession so that my audience, you, can find something new!
How can I use the Trigger Warnings?
The next one is one of the most important columns on this entire database in my opinion and that’s “Trigger Warnings”. While my list of trigger warnings is far from comprehensive, it does a good job of listing all of the major triggers that are often themes of books. Regardless of how large or small the trigger is if it is present at all in the novel then it is included as a trigger in this section. That’s because I can’t make decisions about the magnitude of a trigger that you are able to handle, but I am able to assess whether that trigger exists. For example, a recent trendy smutty series on TikTok called Ice Planet Barbarians features elements of slavery in that all of the girls were abducted by aliens and either were sold into slavery or were intended to be sold into slavery before making their way to Not-Hoth, the alien planet that they make their home. In my opinion, this isn’t a major theme of the books, but it is present and is mentioned at some point in all of them and so all of these books have “Slavery” as a trigger warning. I encourage you to use the “Filter” tool to eliminate books that feature Triggers that would be damaging to your own mental health. You can do this by selecting the "Filter" feature, select "Add Filter," select "Trigger Warnings," and then choose "has none of" on the drop-down menu, and then select your trigger from the selection of Trigger Warnings. The discussion for how helpful trigger warnings are for actually preventing trauma is debatable but I am of the opinion that having the option available in order to protect yourself is vital.
How can I use the Book Tropes?
Book tropes are common plot devices or character personalities that I have a love/hate relationship with.
On the one hand, there are some book tropes that I absolutely love and can never get enough of like enemies-to-lovers romances which are common in fantasy books especially as of the last few years, and some that I absolutely despise like surprise pregnancies which are common in the romance genre.
Because book tropes can make or break your love of a book I like to include them on my Airtable database because then you can filter out book tropes you don’t like and search for books with book tropes that you do enjoy.
However, book tropes are also spoiler central, and knowing the book tropes of a novel can easily spoil everything of importance that’s going to happen in the novel if you’re not careful. Because of that, this information is only available on this post and on my Book Tropes post so that you can’t accidentally stumble upon it.
The way that I advise using this feature is to use the filter option without looking at the “Book Tropes” column which is to the far right of the database. Instead, stay to the far left where the “Title” and “Author” are and use the “Filter” feature at the top of the page. When you add a filter the listings will change based on your criteria and so all of the titles will have the book trope that you’re looking for without you seeing all of the other tropes that each of those books engages in and spoiling the story.
If you’re looking for a specific trope (or more than one) then go to “Filter” then select “Add Condition”. From there you’ll select “Book Tropes” from the list of information and “Has All Of” and then select all of the book tropes that you want a book to have. This option is for books that have all of the book tropes that you select whereas “Has Any Of” will provide books that have one or more of the book tropes that you select.
If you’re looking to not see a specific trope then follow the steps above except select “Has None Of” in order to rule the disliked content out of the selection.
You can add multiple filters until you find a book that you’ll love!
How can I use the Kinks?
After “Book Tropes” is a column that also only exists on one other view of my Airtable library database: “Kink”. This column is only viewable from a few places which include this post because it’s a walkthrough of everything I include, my List of My Favorite Spicy Novels post, and the genres BDSM and Erotica.
I have limited where you can find this information because I don’t want immature audiences to be inadvertently exposed to it so I make it a bit more difficult to find.
This column specifies what kind of kink is included in a book so that people who aren’t interested in a given kink can avoid it and people who know what they enjoy can find more of it!
What awards did it win?
Following “Kink” we have a column for Awards, which is based on information provided on Goodreads. I will readily admit that I haven’t done a great job at filling in information about the awards that books have earned because I don’t care whether a book was an award winner when I’m choosing books to read. That being said, knowing that a book was popular or a significant literary work can impact how we view that work and whether or not we’re interested in reading it so I strive to include that information when possible.
What was the excerpt on the back of the book?
This information is exactly what it sounds like, it’s the excerpt that was provided by the publisher on the back of the book to entice readers and is a great quick summary when looking for a new book!
What are the book stickers?
The book stickers that I’m talking about are stickers of the cover art and title that I make and sell on my small business store BUJO besties which can be used to add the book to a reading journal like the ones I make and sell or your own! Every book I’ve read since the beginning of 2021 has been made into book stickers as have tons of other popular series!