How to Track Reading Challenges With a Spreadsheet

Tracking the books for reading challenges can be a bit of a hassle so here’s how you can build a spreadsheet to help monitor your progress + a template!

Different Types of Challenges

There are 2 different types of challenges …

  1. One type has multiple categories or themes e.g. our very own Monthly Motif Challenge.
  2. The other is the type where you read a certain number of books, e.g. Follow the Clues Mystery Challenge or the Shelf Love Reading Challenge.

Organization – List Your Challenges

✼ On one of the tabs of the spreadsheet – list your challenges.

For challenges that have categories or monthly themes (#1 above), put each challenge in it’s own column and then list the monthly themes or categories below it.

Then create another column with for “Other Challenges” and list all the challenges below it (you could list all challenges – even the ones with themes if you want).

reading challenges tracker

✼ Create a column for “Other Challenges” where challenges that don’t have categories or themes will be listed.

Organize the Challenge Tracker Tab

✼ Create another tab – the Tracker. This will have the list of books and a way to track which challenge each book belongs to.

✼ Create columns for book details. For example, my spreadsheet has columns for …

  • Book Title
  • Author
  • Genre
  • Setting (I’m doing a location based challenge)
  • Read (have I finished reading the book)
  • Rating

reading challenges tracker tab

✼ Create a column for each of the challenges with themes or categories. E.g. my spreadsheet has columns for …

  • Monthly Motif
  • Diverse Reads
  • A to Z Location Edition
  • Around the World Through Language

challenge tracker

Use Data Validation to Create Drop-Down Lists

✼ Use the “Data Validation” command to create drop-down lists in a cell under each of the challenges.

So, in a cell under one of the challenges, eg. Monthly Motif Challenge

  • Right click on the cell
  • Choose “data validation”
  • In “Criteria” select ‘list from a range”
  • Click the icon and go to the “Challenge” sheet and select the list under the appropriate challenge.

reading challenge validation

✼ Copy and paste this cell into the others in the column.

✼ Do the same thing for all the other challenges and “other challenges” column.

Now, fill in the book details, and select which challenge, or which category of each challenge the book is for.

Example Reading Challenge Tracker

Example Reading Challenge Tracker Template (Google doc.) – Copy and Paste it to make it your own.

How do you track progress on your reading challenges?

(Image Credit)


// Comments //

  1. Cilla

    Jan 26

    This is a cool resource! I track my challenge progress in my review journal, though I actually have to remember to keep adding to it haha.

  2. What a fantastic resource! I’ll be sure to link up to this in my next Sunday Post!

  3. What a great way to keep track (and stay on track) of all of your challenges. I confess that one of the reasons I’ve cut down on challenges this year is it’s so hard to stay on top of everything and then before you know it, the year is over. This is definitely something I’ll consider if I ever decide to tackle a bunch of challenges at once.

    • Tanya Patrice

      Jan 16

      @Alicia this spreadsheet makes it so much easier to track!

  4. I tend to give myself uncomplicated challenges like read books off your Classics list. Then i refer to my classics list to see what i haven’t read yet and pick one. I do read all the YMA winners after they are announced in mid to late January. For that I create a list of the awards and then fill in the titles as they are announced. I publish this list on my challenge page. As I complete a book, highlight it or place the completed date next to the title. By December it is easy to see which titles I still need to read.

    • Tanya Patrice

      Jan 16

      @Anne that sounds like a very useful system.

  5. I am seriously impressed. I mean, I have the basics of spreadsheets down, but there is so much I don’t know. I’m going to try to use your examples this year, even though I don’t have a lot of challenges, there are so many applications I can think of!

    • Tanya Patrice

      Jan 16

      @Tammy awesome! I hope you find it useful.

  6. Lizzy

    Jan 09

    OMG! This is the most amazing thing ever. I’m saving and will be coming back for reference MULTIPLE times, I’m sure.

  7. Beth

    Jan 08

    This is such a helpful idea, and a great way to track books. Thank you for sharing!
    Beth x

  8. Kim

    Jan 07

    How did you set up your Follow the Clues Mystery challenge??

    • Tanya Patrice

      Jan 07

      I’m going to just do it book by book starting with the first mystery I read in 2017. So it will be under the “Other Challenges” on the spreadsheet.

  9. Kim

    Jan 06

    This rocks! Time to go pimp out the spreadsheet I started to track 2017 reading challenges!

  10. I am super impressed with your level of organization. I am SO bad at tracking reading challenges, even if I have a good spreadsheet system, which is probably why I don’t usually participate in them. This year I am doing two reading challenges, plus I have a couple of other individual reading goals, but I honestly don’t know if I can muster up the mental willpower to organize at the amazing level you have here. I can barely keep my Goodreads shelves sorted!

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