How do you manage lists of materials (books to read, films to watch)?

How do folks keep lists of material, such as as books to read, or films to watch?

The system I’m migrating into Obsidian consists of files by media (e.g., one for books, one for films, etc.). Each item is placed on a single line in this format:

- 2020-11-13 | Jane Smith, _A Wonderful Summer_ (2016). #southern-gothic coming of age story. Rec'd by Bob. #no-audio

The main fault, which I’m sure you’ve noticed, is that the lists are based on medium rather than topic :slight_smile:

I plan to revise the format to correct this issue, as well as to take advantage of Obsidian’s linking features. So I’m interested in seeing how other folks manage such lists.


I’m migrating from list-based systems, too! I’d appreciate too some suggestions. Thanks a lot in advance!


I am looking for a way to quickly update such a list in obsidian. For example update my progress in watching a Series or till which page I have read a book. I wrote an simple AutoHotKey script to quickly append a note directly to that list but that doesn’t make that much difference in time consumed as I have to edit it manually in the right format later.

What is this system you are using btw? Is it just for Linux users?

I’m using Apple devices and use an app called Drafts that allows me to easily append text to Dropbox files.

So I’ll write something like:

Captain Marvel (2019) which I saw last night, and then Drafts will append it to the relevant file (a time-sorted list of films I’ve seen) like this:

- 2020-11-14 | Captain Marvel (2019)

So I don’t have to manually find the file, fiddle with the date or any other formatting.


So it is the same as my little script. It is easy enough for one time stuff like movies, altho I suppose it should be removed manually from your watch-list if you have one.

I am looking for a way to edit some stuff in the file. For example changing Progress parameter for Capital Marvel (2019) from ‘zero’ to ‘done’ or replacing the episode number and the time values for a Series in my list. The good thing about obsidian is that it allows to do much more with a book or movie. So finding a way to do so with .md files is much better than a stand alone solution that I am sure should be out there (Altho I am not aware of).

For TV shows, I update my record when I reach a natural conclusion (season finale, or lost interest in the show), just so I can remember where I was in case I want to continue watching later. That works well enough for me, but I don’t watch that many shows :slight_smile:

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Problem is that I am not sure when I want to continue a show. Sometimes I am in middle of watching and something happens and I just have to go. The minute feature is very useful as there is no way (that I know of) to bookmark youtube videos and playlists. TV shows are not the main concern for me neither.

In case you didn’t realise, you can save a youtube url with the current playback position if you add the timestamp onto the end in the format: &t=1m12s

So the following should take you to midway thrugh one of nick milo’s videos:

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Thanks, I knew about this but was not sure how I am going to use it. I thought it’s a tool more suited for sharing the video with others rather than a bookmark feature. Maybe there is way to make something neat using this feature . But timestamping and copy pasting the url every time I leave the browser is not very appealing.

I use folders for different types of media. Hazel sorts notes containing media type tags (book, film, show, ect.) into the correct folder. The notes also contain status tags (current, future, done). A grep reads the files and then generates lists of links under status headings.

Somewhat complicated to set up but smooth once it’s finished.

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I have a similar use case but mostly for books. I use to track the books that I’ve read and the books that I want to read. Then I wrote a little script that converts my Goodreads library export into individual files in my vault. Each shelf that the books are on becomes a tag also. This makes it easy to link to books that I’ve read but also books that have been recommended or just reference works.


This sounds great! Would you mind sharing your script?

Here it is, · GitHub .

I’ve moved away from this setup because I’m tracking all my references in Zotero now…


@jag3773 Thanks for sharing your script! My problem with Zotero is that it doesn’t have an iOS app to use on the go. Are you familiar with any related workarounds? (Maybe it’s a topic for another thread, though.)

I use Notium on my Android mobile device which connects to my Obsidian vault via the Obsidian git plugin. I mostly use it for intake of notes and resources.

In the situation you described, I would add a note with Notium about the resource and then later on my laptop I would track down the “real reference” and import it into Zotero. The connectors that Zotero has makes it handy to save references to all sorts of things, videos, books, journal articles, Github repos, blog posts, etc.


Videos? I’ve not heard about that! I am thinking about moving all my library to Zotero but what is stopping me is the idea that, other than PDF’s and maybe html files, I still have to save other formats like epub and mobi and Images and whatever in folders or some other app. And that of course is going to just make things more complicated and increase the friction.

Try using to convert your epub/mobi’s to PDF, then you can have a single workflow for text based research.

@joshduffney made a nice video on how he manages his list Manage Reading-lists in Obsidian - YouTube I am using a similar system as well and found it to be a good tradeoff between structure and simplicity

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How do you set up your drafts action to choose which list to append to? If you had multiple lists (movies to watch, groceries, restaurants you’ve eaten at). How do you set up your drafts action to type your input and then append to the correct file?