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Re: Tips on using Org-mode to manage a reading list

From: Christian Heinrich
Subject: Re: Tips on using Org-mode to manage a reading list
Date: Sun, 29 May 2022 16:47:35 +0200
User-agent: Evolution 3.42.3-1


personally, I find tracking information through TODO keywords rather 
unappealing. There are two
reasons: the first one is that you may loose information. For instance, if you 
use "TO-READ", "To-
BUY", "READ" to track your books, does that mean that every item that is marked 
"READ" is related to
a book in your possession? What about books you read that you borrowed from the 
library or a good
friend? Once you change to the final keyword, you loose track of the former 
ones. I do believe that
is is better to use properties and/or tags for this.

Secondly, since I store everything in my journal, I would end up (and at some 
point, I did) with
recipes, code, ...)
and so on. I found that rather unappealing as it is based on the content of the 
item. Today, my
keyword is simply "TODO" and I tag the headline "ARTICLE" or "BOOK". If I want 
to query books that I
still need to read, I will filter on tags and TODO item. (This also allows me 
to search for articles
I still need to read but exclude books.)

Since you are also talking about articles: the CLI tool org_attach can fetch 
data and pdfs (when
accessible) based on DOIs, bibtex files, URLs, ...: 

        org_attach bib 10.1137/0206024

would look up the DOI and create an entry in the org-mode file automatically, 
including a bibtex
section; in some cases (when it can find it), it even downloads the PDF and 
attaches it.

Further tips: there are tools like org-noter and org-pdftools (combined through 
that can help you with taking notes.

When you set up an org-capture template, consider putting it into its own file 
and reading it via
(file "path/to/your/template" ); makes your init.el a bit tidier.

Third advice: you may want to add a property called "GENRE"; and in some cases, 
you may want to
limit the entries via the _ALL option. So for example, you list all genres 

#+PROPERTY: GENRE_ALL genre1 genre2 genre3

Other values will then not be permitted for that property.

Best regards

On Mon, 2022-05-16 at 23:22 +0200, Sébastien Gendre wrote:
> Hello.
> I want to use Org-mode to manage a reading list and I'm looking for
> tips.
> My goals are to:
>   * List books and articles I want to read
>   * Track books I have to buy and which I already own
>   * Track books and articles I have read
>   * Take notes on books I have read
> The following is what I plan to do.
> The idea is to use an Org-mode heading for each book and the
> properties of the books become the ones of the Org-mode heading. The
> synopsis of the book can be in the body of the heading.
> Example:
> #+begin_example
> * TO-READ Four Futures - Life After Capitalism
> :Title:         Four Futures - Life After Capitalism
> :Author:        Peter Frase
> :Score:         
> :Publisher:     Verso Books
> :Release_date:  Unknown
> :Link:          https://www.versobooks.com/books/1847-four-futures
> :Pages:         
> :END:
> An exhilarating exploration into the utopias and dystopias that
> could develop from present society
> #+end_example
> I can then structure my Org-mode file like I want. Here, the first
> level headings are:
>   * Articles
>   * Books
> In the "Books" heading I have the headings "Non-fiction" and
> "Fiction".
> To track the status of the books, I set the following for the Org-mode
> file:
>   * TO-GET
>   * TO-READ
>   * READ (DONE state)
> For adding new books, I can use Org-capture with a custom template.
> The captured book can be saved inside an "Inbox" Org-mode file, then
> moved to its destination heading with Org-refile.
> For searching a book inside the file, I can use "Sparse Trees" or
> Org-ql.
> If I get the digital version of the book, I can attach it to its
> corresponding heading with Org-attach.
> And for taking notes, I can create headings inside the book heading.
> Using Emacs narrow to focus on it. If I get the digital version of the
> book, I can use Org-noter.
> End of description.
> Do you have any suggestions or idea ?
> I don't know how to manage books with several volumes.
> Do I create a heading for each volumes ?
> Do I create one heading for the whole collection ?
> The first is easy with 2 or 3 volumes, but not when I got 23 or more in a 
> collection.
> Do you have idea to manage borrowing and loaning books ?
> Thank you in advance. :)
> Best regards

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