Goodreads: A Must-Have for the Obsessive Bibliophile

by Camille on February 3, 2013



You might be a bibliophile if….

– Your mom put your books on top of the refrigerator as punishment when you were a child.

– You were seriously peeved that Disney World didn’t have an exhibit of the library from Beauty and the Beast.

– When you started driving you had no idea how to get around the town you’d lived in for 15 years because the moment the car cranked, your book appeared.

– You’ve had to pay extra to fly because your luggage was weighted down with 10 different novels.

– You spent an entire day of a Mediterranean cruise reading in your cabin.

– When you meet someone who loves a book as much as you do, that person is an instant best friend.

– When you hear “I saw the movie,” as an excuse for not reading a book, your soul dies.

– Your bookshelf is organized by genre, followed by the author’s last name. (Well, before you had kids, anyway.)

– When you love a book, it becomes like a child, and the idea of parting with it seems cruel and unjust.

– You keep an average of 52 books in your “to-read” pile constantly; it’s important to plan ahead.

If any of these apply to you, then may I suggest your life will not be complete until you join Goodreads, a social-cataloguing website for book-lovers.

I know, I know. Many of you have probably been dedicated members since 2007 when the site launched and I sound like some grandma who just discovered Facebook. But after fiercely hassling gently questioning a few of my friends recently, I’ve realized that there are still some readers out there who’ve yet to discover the wonders the site has to offer.

And this, dear readers, is a tragedy I aim to remedy.

I first discovered Goodreads last semester while doing research for a library class. Initially, I was just looking for decent author biographies, but when I realized Goodreads would cater to and blissfully encourage my OCD-ish tendencies regarding the printed word….I was hooked.

I set up an account, downloaded the handy-dandy iPhone app, and started clicking away.

 Goodreads Homescreen

With Goodreads, you can:

1. Maintain a list of all the books you’ve read, are currently reading, and want to read.

My books

Umm….I know this makes me a dork, but I love lists. Some people look with pride at their iTunes collection while others carefully position push-pins on the wall map. For me, there’s a little thrill every time I get to click “read” and add another book to my shelf. I know y’all have noticed those folks on Facebook asking for book recommendations before they head off on vacation, and Goodreads allows me to say….“ooh, here are 200 ideas!” without quite so much typing.

My favorite aspect of the app is actually having a handy place to keep a “to-read” list. In the past, when I’ve come across an interesting title, I’ve scrawled it on a random sticky, gum wrapper, receipt back, my hand, etc. I don’t know why, but sometimes the titles never actually made it to my shelf. Now, when I’m strolling through Barnes and Noble or reading an interesting book review on-line, I just pull out my phone and add the title to my list.  I love that as well as allowing manual entry for books, searchable by title or author’s name, there’s also a bar-code scanner built in. I scanned half a friend’s bookshelf tonight.

Goodreads has a variety of search and organizational options for your books and allows creation of “shelves” for different categories. I haven’t played with this feature much as of yet, but as I’d like to start keeping track of Ellie’s books, I appreciate the ability to create a shelf for her separate from my books.

3. Rate books and write reviews.


Thus far, I’ve written exactly one review. I finished J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy in January, and I happened to be near a computer as I cried my way through the end. I’d LOVE to go back and review about 100 other books, but that would cut into my time to read new ones, so what’s a girl to do? Thus far, I have found the reviews to be generally well-written, thought-provoking, and helpful. I can quickly determine people who have similar interests to my own and add them to my friends.

Warning: There can be a slight problem when a friend doesn’t share your view of the greatness of a particular book. “What?! Oh no you didn’t just give that book only three stars! Were your eyes open?!” You may feel like they’ve insulted your child or something. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

3. Search for books based on genre or check out one of the day’s lists.


Need an idea of something to read? Goodreads generates different random lists and rotates them fairly often. You can also explore books from a multitude of genres. And while these seem like good options, I think the “Explore” function of Goodreads needs the most work. The lists are often repetitive and seem to include the same books.  Also, in a list called “Best Books Ever” Goodreads listed the Twilight books. Dear God, forgive them.

4. Explore suggestions from the program based on your ratings and lists.

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 10.42.59 PM

The explore function does work better on the computer version which specifically tailors recommendations based on my read and to-read lists. Hovering over the cover reveals a brief synopsis, and there is a “Not Interested” option. Again, many of the recommendations aren’t necessarily something I’d be interested in, but we’re in the early stages of our relationship. Hopefully, Goodreads will learn me better as we progress.

 5. Share your lists with others and view friends’ lists to see what they’re reading.

And of course, perhaps the most enjoyable part of the program is the ability to share lists, ratings, reviews, and recommendations with friends. In general, I think you can sometimes gain considerable insight into a person by what he or she reads (or doesn’t), and I love snooping through the lists of my friends to get ideas to add to my own shelf.

Also, there’s a never-ending book quiz, and for someone who frequently suffers from insomnia, it’s not a bad option.

Do you use Goodreads or a similar program?

What amazing books have you read so far this year? 





jennifer February 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I love Goodreads! add me on there if you want
jennifer recently posted..My Top 100 MoviesMy Profile

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