Why You Should Get On Goodreads, Now

While talking to a fellow reader today, I mentioned my Goodreads summer reading list. I expected her response to be something like, “Which books are on the list?”

Instead, she said, “What IS Goodreads?” I was flabbergasted. To me, that’s like asking, “What is Amazon?” or “What is Twitter?” But it made me realize that some of you, my readers, might not know what Goodreads can do for you. So today I’m going to share the whys and hows of being a Goodreads member.

What IS Goodreads?

Let’s start by answering the question posed by my reader friend. Goodreads is a social media site that allows you to rate, review, shelve and share books with friends. You can:

  • Keep track of what you’re currently reading, what you’ve read in the past, and what you plan to read.
  • See what your friends are reading.
  • Get recommendations in a wide array of genres.
  • Contribute to the reading community with (ideally) thoughtful ratings and reviews of the books you read.

How do you become a member?

Just go to and set up an account. I believe, if you’re an Amazon customer (and who isn’t?) you can even use your Amazon username and password. (Amazon acquired Goodreads in 2013.) It’s all free, of course.

Then start shelving books.

How do you shelve books?

Goodreads will prompt you to set up your first shelves. The most important, at least initially, are the “To-Read” shelf, the “Read” (as in “Already Read”) shelf, and the “Currently Reading” shelf. You can set up more customized shelves after you’ve gotten the hang of these three. Start with “Currently Reading,” as it will be the quickest to fill. Do a search by either author or title, and click to add the book(s) you’re in the midst of. Later, when you finish them, you can return to this shelf, mark them as “Read,” and give a review.

You may be tempted to add a bunch of books to your “Read” (as in “Already Read”) shelf right away. While it might be nice to add a few important books so that Goodreads can start generating personal recommendations, I’d suggest that you not go overboard here. It’s impossible to recall every book you’ve read. Give yourself permission to track books from this time forward.

My favorite is the “To-Read” shelf. Here, you can add books to the proverbial reading pile without having it topple over on you in the middle of the night. You can use Goodreads recommendations, or friend recommendations, or you can download the Goodreads app and add books while browsing at bookstores or at the library.

How do I connect with friends?

Like most social media sites these days, Goodreads helps you connect with friends through an intermediary to Facebook, Twitter, etc. You can also search for a friend’s profile, or follow reviewers whose opinions you like. You can even follow authors you love.

Connect with me here!

Why should I join?

Everyone has their own reasons for loving Goodreads. I’ll share mine, in hopes that one or more may resonate with you:

  • It’s so easy to keep track of the books I’m reading. Before Goodreads, I had no record of my reading life. Now I can see what I was reading at any given time of my life. I love getting insight on myself based on the books I gravitate toward.
  • It’s so easy to keep track of what I want to read. This summer, I created a summer reading list (which you can follow here after signing up for Goodreads). I’m still surprised at how valuable the list is. I used when loading my Kindle for vacations, and when people asked what I wanted for my birthday. I feel great anticipation over many of the titles, and can space out the different genres so I don’t get bogged down with, say, three murder mysteries in a row. I’ll write more about this particular list at the close of summer, but suffice to say, I’ll be doing other targeted to-read lists in the future.
  • The annual Reading Challenge. I love that I can set a goal for the number of books I read in a year, and Goodreads will track it for me. This year, I’m trying for 100; Goodreads tells me I’m ahead of the game at 63.
  • I have yet to find a title that isn’t in the system. I thought I might have trouble with books I read for research purposes that were rather obscure. Nope; Goodreads had them available to shelve.

Are you convinced? Would you like to join me on Goodreads?

If you have more questions, please write them in the comment box, and I’ll be happy to answer them to the best of my ability…

…if you’re already a Goodreads user, please comment with your input for readers who may be on the fence…

…and I invite all of you to follow me, and I’ll follow you back! We can expand this community of readers by sharing our favorite books.

3 Responses to “Why You Should Get On Goodreads, Now”

  1. I think one of my favorite reasons for using Goodreads has been discoverability of new books. My wishlist has increased manyfold since I joined it, just from seeing what other people are reading (I’m a little nosy like that *lol*) and finding books or authors that are similar to ones I already like. Plus, I’ve started using the different shelves for filing away suggestions for my new “market research” project. As great as handwritten lists can be, I find Goodreads’ shelves more convenient – and more difficult to misplace or throw away by accident!

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Funnily enough, I think I use it less for that reason… I find new books mostly by a) browsing in physical bookstores or libraries, b) browsing my library’s e-book catalog, or c) the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and book club. I guess I get enough recommendations that way. Right now I’m overwhelmed with the wealth of books I’m preparing to read!

  2. My husband is on Good Reads but I haven’t taken the plunge. For one thing, I already have FAR too many books on my TBR list and shelf already, not to mention all the fine book suggestions I get from the blogs I read (I just put Gail Collins’ book on hold at the library). I’m nosy about other people’s libraries, and I can see how that would be an enjoyable feature, but I’m too lazy to create my own bookshelf! I will definitely follow you if I ever join in the fun, though 🙂

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