Looking for a way to tame your “To Read” list? Obsessive about keeping track of things you’ve already read? For book lovers, social media junkies, and everything in between, Goodreads might be the service you’ve been looking for. A number of our staff—myself included—use Goodreads with varying degrees of fanaticism, so we’ve decided to feature it on the blog so you can join in as well!
The best thing about Goodreads is that it gives you a lot of options; you can use whatever functions you want and ignore the rest. If you’re not into the social networking aspect, for example, you can use it instead to very specifically track your own reading habits. While writing this review I consulted my own profile, which devolved into a period of obsessive organization of my virtual bookshelves—by date read, by rating, by shelf. I have lists going for books I’ve read, books I am reading, and books I would like to read. If I put a book down for a time (or run out of renewals at the library!), I can record what page I was on for the next time I pick it up. You can also create custom bookshelves and write public reviews. For the organizationally-minded user, it’s a wonderful tool for generating a lot of lists about your library and reading patterns. There are even some functions that provide statistics on the number of books you read in a given year or the authors that you read the most!
This might be good for someone who wants to use the site simply to curate a personal library, but how about people who are looking for recommendations? Goodreads offers a few different ways for you to find out about new books you might like to read. The social aspect of the site allows you to connect with other users and see what they are reading. From that one friend with killer taste to other Goodreads users you meet while discussing your favorite books, you can develop a network of people whose reading habits are similar to your own. There’s also an algorithmic option for recommendations, which suggests books for you to read based on what you’ve added to your bookshelves.
There are some other functions within Goodreads, some of which are pretty neat. You can set a personal reading challenge for the year (good for goal-oriented types!) or import your Amazon purchases directly onto your bookshelves (this makes a little more sense when using the Kindle app version; otherwise, it seems somewhat intrusive). There are author interviews and curated lists galore for you to read, and if you love vehemently disagreeing with people, you can always check out the user reviews.
Overall, the social networking and personal library aspects of Goodreads work well together, but users can also tailor the experience effectively to their own needs. In addition to the web interface there are free apps available for iOS, Android, Kindle, and NOOK. Reviews are generally good for the apps, although the web interface offers the most comprehensive access to the service’s many features.
Check out Goodreads at goodreads.com, or download the app for your device from iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.