Totally unrelated to anything else: Squee! (Thanks, AMQ!)
For some odd reason, I got this weird notion about tracking down as many of the books I've read as possible. No, I don't know why.
I'm not even going to try to remember all the series books and such that I read as a kid—Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, The Boxcar Children, The Three Investigators, Encyclopedia Brown, etc. When I was 9 or 10, I literally read my way through every single book on the children's side of the Gadsden Public Library, finally getting the exalted permission to check out books from the adult side. There's no way I'll ever remember all those books, or track them down. Some bits have teased at my memories for years, but nobody else has ever recognized them.
The books I've read as an adult, though--that's fairly doable. (I have a decent memory of those I read back into middle school, but I don't think it's terribly valuable to go there.)
Anyway, that led me to looking through a bunch of author's web sites, and sites like Fantastic Fiction that have extensive lists of books sorted by author, year, series, etc. I'm thrilled to find that some authors I assumed to be dead are still pumping out word count, and some series I figured to be long finished are in fact alive. I hope that I won't ever be desperate enough to read something like The Cat Who…series again, but if I am, they and all the knock-offs are out there.
I'm getting to enjoy some books all over again just by having my memory jogged, without actually going back and re-reading them. With others, I can tell that I've forgotten so much that I could enjoy a re-read, which is nice.
Other details are maddeningly elusive. I know I read bunches of Andre Norton's books, starting in those childhood years. So why, when I look at a list of her works, do I go blank? I know I read plenty of her standalone works, in and outside of the Witch World series, so why am I only sure about the co-written books I read?
I remember quite well when I was limited to looking up the books that the local library happened to own, or if I was really committed, get one of those huge tomes from their reference desk to see what books an author had in print. The web makes that whole process so much more thorough, not to mention faster and easier! I wouldn't have ever known about all those pseudonyms Marion Zimmer Bradley used, or that she wrote a bunch of lesbian pulp novels, without the web. I certainly didn't ever find quite a few of the Darkover books she wrote, despite going through a serious Darkover phase in high school.
Then there are the dead people who are still publishing books. Wow. I had no idea. I mean, I remember that the Scientology guy had put out just one or two books of what was supposed to be a ten-volume series when he died, and the books kept coming out without a hitch, supposedly based on his "notes." Okay, right. I certainly recognized a lot of Heinlein influence in the posthumous novel co-written with Spider Robinson, Variable Star. MZB's Darkover and Avalon properties are pumping right along, credited to Deborah J. Ross (aka Deborah Wheeler) and Diana L. Paxson. But there's no mention of "notes" or other authors credited with some of these people, and they've got books coming out five years or more after their deaths.
I'm nowhere near finished entering books in Now Reading (because look, if I'm gonna look all this up, I want something to show for it, darn it), but I'm already realizing that I have quite the anthology habit. I am absolutely tickled to hear that there's a Sword & Sorceress anthology that I missed, and another scheduled to come out this fall. Looking at the lists of stories in anthologies reminds me of authors I haven't heard of in ages, too, so I end up looking them up and finding out about new works, which gives me even more stuff to look forward to.
I use the "Not Read Yet" part of the Now Reading list to search the library catalogs and request books to read. It's a very handy way to keep books in mind, especially those that I know about pre-release, since the library often doesn't have those in their catalog quite yet. It's a handy way to keep a "wish list" in a place that I can access from anywhere, without putting books I just want to read (not necessarily own) into an actual wish list.
How do you track books you want to read? How do you keep up with your favorite authors' upcoming releases?