You’re scrolling through the web when you stumble upon an interesting read. The theme of the article resonates with you and you really want to give it a read. But there is work to be done, deadlines to be met, and now is never a good time for a read.
So you decide that you will read it later, open it in a new tab in your browser, and let it sit there for weeks before you realize that you may never find time to read it. Finally, you close the tab with scores of other tabs that clutter your screen.
And just like that, the super-interesting article is out of sight — out of mind. You will never gain the knowledge and insights it has to offer.
And the cycle repeats.
But what if you could record all these articles someplace? What if you could maintain a repository of books in a reading list that you won’t forget exists? You will always have the reading bucket list in front of you – for whenever you find time.
If you already use Notion to organize your life and work, you can also use it to create and manage your reading list. Here are the six steps to creating a reading list in Notion:
1. Create a new page to host the reading list
Create a new Notion page to set up your reading list. You can name the page as “Reading List” to make it easy to find it later.
Here’s what our new page for reading list looks like - we will use it for reference throughout this article.
2. Create a database
Even though you can use the “bullet list” block in Notion to record your reading list, it’s best if you use a database because it makes it easy to filter and sort the list based on any criteria you choose.
You can create multiple views of the same database based on the type of content you want to read, author, publication, etc. Access our guide to Notion databases to learn how to create and use database but for now, just type “/database” in your page and select the database block.
This will populate an empty database but you can connect to one of the existing databases if you already have a reading list. In the next steps, we will show you how to create a reading list from an empty database.
3. Add columns with relevant property types
Let’s start building our reading list. We will start by creating columns, each with relevant property types to capture all information pertinent to items in your reading list.
The above screenshot demonstrates one such example. This gallery database view records the name of the book or article you wish to read later, the URL of the piece, content type - book, article, whitepaper, video, webinar, etc., and many other details.
Each of these columns has a specific property type. The “types” column for example is assigned a “Drop-down” property type which allows selecting only those items that you want to show. Contrarily, the “Author” column has a “text” property type that allows you to freely enter text.
4. Create filters for unique views
Alright, now that we have the database columns ready, let’s create unique views for items under the “Type” column. This way we can create tabs in the same database, one each for “Books”, ”Articles, ”Videos”, ”Webinars”, etc. Now, when you find some free time, you can quickly jump to relevant tabs based on your mood. So if you want to watch a video instead of reading a whitepaper, you can jump to the pertinent tab and pick one from the list.
To create unique filters, create a new tab, and then click on “Filter”. This will pull up the list of all the columns in your database as shown in the below image.
We will select “Types” as we want to pull in all cards under the “Webinar” type. Notion adds the filter and pulls up another list with all items under the “Types” column.
Next, we will select “Webinar” to pull in all the webinars into the new Notion gallery view.
You can create new database views with filters for other columns as well. For example, you can set a filter to collate all items tagged “Professional” under the “Relevance” column to keep track of your learning pertinent to your professional growth.
5. Add images to each card
While a “Table” style database does the job, images add to aesthetics. Adding a visual element makes you want to click on the card and go through it’s contents.
The below screenshot shows the reading list set up as a gallery database.
Notice how the images tell a bit more about what the article/ book is about.
6. Take reading notes
Your Notion reading list will keep growing forever, keep adding new cards when you come across something interesting or useful but make sure that you update them with reading notes before changing the status to “Done”.
Taking notes helps you summarize what you learned. The key takeaways from every article or webinar will help you refresh your memory later.
There you have it - the complete 6 step process to creating a reading list in Notion. You can add more columns as per your requirement, you can customize your gallery the way you want. The template we shared here is only for creating a basic reading list. You add more properties like progress bars to track completion of books.
Benefits of Using Notion for Creating a Reading List
Notion's customization options are like having a personal reading assistant. Imagine being able to categorize your reading list based on genres, authors, or themes. For example, a student could customize their reading list to separate academic readings from leisure ones, ensuring a personalized approach to their reading experience.
2. Visual Appeal
With Notion, you can infuse creativity into your reading list. Incorporate cover images, bookmarks, and icons to make it visually appealing. For instance, a book club organizer can utilize this feature to create an eye-catching reading list that entices members and keeps them engaged.
3. Database Functionality
Harnessing the power of databases within Notion offers a sophisticated approach to organizing your reading list. It enables sorting, filtering, and viewing options, streamlining the process of efficiently categorizing and accessing your reading materials. This feature is akin to having a highly efficient librarian, ensuring your collection is always well-ordered and easily accessible.
4. All-in-One Solution
Notion serves as a central hub for all facets of your life — your reading list seamlessly fits in. This integration provides a seamless and consolidated user experience.
How to add a new book or article to your Notion reading list?
To add a new entry to your reading list, simply navigate to your Notion page dedicated to the reading list. Click on the "+" icon to create a new entry in the database and fill in the details such as book/article name, author, URL, and type.
Can you categorize your reading list based on genres or topics?
Absolutely! Notion allows you to customize your database with tags. You can add a column for genres or topic tags, then sort or filter your reading list based on these categories.
How to mark a book or article as 'read' or 'in progress'?
In the 'Status' column of your database, you can assign a status to each entry. Each potential entry can double up as a tag. Options typically include 'To Read', 'In Progress', and 'Read'. Simply select the appropriate status for each book or article to keep track of your progress.