I track my reading with an odometer goal. I often read more than one book at once, but until now I have always submitted pages from my non-tracked books having completed the book I’m tracking as I read.
I originally started this post ages ago to ask about zeroing the goal, but I experimented with that and it didn’t work. What I want to ask for now is a variation on the odometer goal, potentially called multi-trip odometer. I’d like to be able to track my reading for various books at the same time, contributing to the single goal to read more. I currently often end up either needing to read one book faster than I would otherwise, or putting in a higher number of pages than I have actually read of that book.
At first glance this looks like cheating, but for example now I am on page 290 of a book and in the red, but I’ve actually finished another book of ~300 pages and read ~100 pages of a third, so I shouldn’t be anywhere near the red. It also means my goal does not reflect the total pages which I actually read at the time I read them. Here’s my reading goal, if you’re interested: https://www.beeminder.com/gaidheal/reading
Ideally, I would be able to start any number of ‘trips’ within the goal (up to a reasonable number, for example 10), and then ‘archive’ or ‘complete’ them when I finished the book.
I imagine this could also be used for exercise goals: perhaps I’m training for a triathlon, and over the next 3 months I want to cycle 500km, run 200km, and swim 50km. While I realise that 1km swimming is not equal effort to 1km cycling, this could make exercise bundle goals more precise.
This feature would make tracking my reading with Beeminder even more enjoyable!
Something like this might be asking more of Beeminder than Beeminder can really handle. I tend to be reading about 10 books at once (right now it’s 12 according to Goodreads, so your “sensible” cap on trips would not be enough for me!) and I think there are two easier ways to Beemind all that reading, both of which involve tracking the actual odometer of the pages elsewhere.
A common approach: have a goal for “pages read” and, after each reading session, do some quick subtraction to figure out your datapoint. (Can be made easier by keeping your bookmark at your starting-point when you read, or tracking the pages odometer-style in a spreadsheet or at a site like Goodreads). Probably the best approach if you want to be reading more pages.
My approach: have a goal for “instances of reading,” linked via IFTTT via twitter to my Goodreads. Every time I update my progress on a book in Goodreads, it tweets about it (a feature I enabled in Goodreads); every time my designated “data” twitter posts a tweet with the word Goodreads, IFTTT adds a datapoint to my read-books goal. Probably the best approach if you don’t care how much you read, just how often you read.
(I care about instances of reading rather than page count because I’m often reading very dense, difficult books very slowly, and I don’t want to reward myself for ignoring them in favour of easier reading. But if your reading is more uniform, raw pages might work just fine.)
I have an overly fancy script that I use to keep multiple book odometers straight, while reporting the number of pages read to Beeminder. But, I have recently converted that goal to track instances of reading, rather than pages…
The sequence of datapoints
will reset an odometer goal’s baseline to x without changing the actual progress. I’ve used this with multiple odometers occasionally; in your case it’d look something like
^ 370 “on page 370 of Count of Monte Cristo”
^ 0 “switching to Atlas Shrugged”
^ -522 “on page 522 of Atlas Shrugged”
^ 537 “on page 537 of Atlas Shrugged”
All the info is in the comments, but this is still a bit painful if you switch odometers often. (It works pretty well if that’s unusual, though.) A way with fewer datapoints (but more non-Beeminder-computed arithmetic) would be
^ 15 “read pages 522-537 of Atlas Shrugged”
Another option would be to set up a goal for each book, and then use IFTTT or other automation to post the delta datapoint from each of them to a shared “pages” goal.
Or buy a tally counter, click it each time you turn the page, and use that as your odometer. Or switch to Beeminding time spent reading and use a stopwatch (or the Beeminder mode designed for this in the mobile apps).