Goodreads is a social cataloging website for book nerds that launched in January 2007. As of July 2012 it had 10 million registered members with 20 million monthly visits. That’s a lot of book recommendations.
On the Goodreads website, users can add books to their personal bookshelves, rate and review books, see what their friends are reading, participate in discussion boards and groups on a variety of topics, and get suggestions for future reading choices. Goodreads features a rating system of one to five stars, with the option of accompanying the rating with a written review. The site provides default bookshelves–read, currently-reading, to-read–and the opportunity to create customized shelves to categorize a user’s books. It also offers quizzes and trivia, quotations, and book lists.
My two favorite features of Goodreads are Listopia and the Goodreads app for smartphones. Are you having Downton Abbey withdrawal? Check out Goodreads’ “Downton Abbey-esque Books” list under the Listopia tab. The “Best Books of the 20th Century” list was a lot of fun because I got to cast my vote and have my library voice heard! (my 1st choice is in the lead so far, voting is ongoing). Urban fantasy, dystopian fiction, Black History Month, Clean Teen Fiction, erotic romance, historical fiction, cozy mysteries, Christian fiction…no matter where you literary interests lie, you will no doubt find a list to put you in touch with your next great read. It’s also a great resource for book group facilitators looking for the next choice for their book clubs because the reviews and ratings are written by real people who have actually read the book.
The Goodreads app for iPhone is my new best friend. It’s ridiculously easy to use. It has a barcode reader that allows you to just scan the barcode on any book you want to add to your list and all of the book information is loaded into the record automatically. No typing titles, ISBNs, publishers, etc. You can rate and review books with the app just like you would on their website. Only a book geek like myself would waste an entire Sunday afternoon scanning over 400 books into my Goodreads account. In my defense, it was pouring down rain all day. Another handy use for the app is to access your list of books that you’ve read. Have you ever checked out (or worse, bought) a book only to get home and realize you’ve already read it years ago? My searchable book lists of To-read, Currently-reading and Read are always at my fingertips as long as I have my phone with me. A couple of weeks ago a patron came into the library, handed me a book and said, “This was great. You should read it.” I just whipped out my phone, scanned the barcode and added the book to my ‘To-read’ list. It was seriously that easy. Plus it made me look kinda techy and nerdy and cool in a bibliophile-sort of way.
There are so many features on Goodreads that I can’t begin to touch upon all of them, but I really recommend you try it for yourself. It’s free it’s fun, and it’s more than a little bit addicting. And don’t forget to send me a friend request!
– Teri Milbourn, NRC Branch Manager