Self-Enabling my OCD; or, For the Love of Lists

I’ve always made lists.

Lists of books I want to read; lists of ideas for short stories and novels; grocery lists; to-do lists; Christmas wish lists; packing lists; and, as of this moment, lists of lists.

Creating lists is not merely a passing fancy for me — I need lists to LIVE. I need them like a crackhead needs crack. If I don’t make lists I get forgetful and grouchy. Throw away my unfinished list and watch me hulk up like Bruce Banner — BOOKZILLA SMASH!!!

The trouble with lists is, they’re sneaky. I write something down on a piece of paper or Post-it, and next time I need it, it’s vanished, off to the Bermuda Triangle, or wherever important papers go when you really need them.

A lucky find

I discovered Bookpedia a couple years back. What a GREAT way for me to feed my list addiction! Now I can categorize books to my heart’s content.

The system can even keep track of which books I’ve lent; I’ve officially become that scary librarian who calls your house and leaves messages that contain thinly veiled threats: “Returning books after their due date is against the rules. Please return your books by [x date] or further measures will be taken…”

Bookpedia, however, cannot fully satisfy my craving for lists. I can’t write my to-do list for weekend chores. I can’t make my grocery list with Bookpedia, and I can’t save my story or blog ideas in a list generated by Bookpedia.

To the rescue!

Enter Listography, a site whose sole purpose is the creation and sharing of lists. Says one of the site’s creators:

“…through list making, you can shape an autobiography. A listography is a perpetual work in progress, a time capsule, and a map of your life for friends and family.”

Not only can I create my own lists — I can see others’ as well. People use Listography for lists of all kinds: movies they’ve seen, places they want to go, things they want/need to do, things that bother them, baby names, favorite/least favorite foods, and general observations of life.

Humans are complex beings, and it’s fun to see a person’s life broken down into the items that make them who they are.

Fun stuff

Currently my online listography is focused on categorizing the books I own, and also works as a central location for my “Books to Buy” list. If I’m at Barnes and Noble and want to see my list, I can pop on, log in, and I’m ready to go.

But as I’ve mentioned, my love of lists extends beyond books. Fortunately, Listography is also in print.

There are currently five Listography books for sale, with a sixth one available next year. I own two of these books, and they’re as awesome as their online counterpart.

The original Listography has fill-in-the-blank lists for things like:

  • List things most people probably don’t know about you
  • List your favorite restaurants
  • List the websites you visit most

And Love Listography (obviously) revolves around topics like:

  • List memorable things you’ve done with lovers
  • List what drives you crazy about other couples
  • List the people you’ve kissed/List the people you’d like to kiss

Why I love lists

Lists are cathartic. They make it easy for me to remember what I need to do.

But what Listography has helped me understand is that lists can also show where I’ve been.

Lists can be the best form of truth, because they show how you were feeling at a particular moment in time; when you come across the list again, you can look back and remember those feelings.

My obsession with lists means that I’m good at planning out my future; it also means that I’m good at remembering my past.

What do you make lists of or for? Would you buy a Listography book? Would you share those lists with others, or would your book be more of a personal journal?

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