Technology

Goodreads: My New Favorite Social Network

I didn’t think I needed another medium to connect with my online “friends.” Between life updates on Facebook, pithy posts on Twitter and too-good-to-be-unfiltered pictures on Instagram, I see and share more than enough of life online.

But! Even with all of these social networks, I’ve come across a new-to-me service1Goodreads is over 10 years old that’s quickly become my favorite: Goodreads.

At its core, Goodreads is an app to manage books you’ve read, are reading, or hope to read. The premise of Goodreads is personal reading management with a twist–you can see what your friends are reading too.

Goodreads encourages you to rate what you’ve read on a five-star scale, and after you rate 20 books, it starts suggesting other books in similar genres that you may enjoy.

It’s highly integrated with Amazon reviews and syncs with your Kindle highlights too, thanks to its acquisition by our favorite online retailer in 2013.

A Simple System for Sorting (and Discovering) Books

I don’t care what all of the popular books are on Amazon, but I am curious to see the most popular books among my friends. Most of us are far more likely to watch a movie, buy a product, or try a new restaurant because of a personal recommendation rather than just pursuing what’s popular for the masses. That’s what makes Goodreads fantastic–I can see what my friends are reading, read their reviews, and even comment or message and ask questions right inside the app.

There are tons of other goodies inside of Goodreads. A few of my favorite features include:

  • Tracking start and finish dates for books you’re reading
  • Auto-updating your progress based on where you left off in Kindle books (if you want)
  • Setting a reading challenge for a calendar year and helping you track your goal
  • Following your favorite authors

Maybe these features sound interesting, but a joining another social network doesn’t seem worth it and adding all of your books is overwhelming. But you can start small and still enjoy the benefits of Goodreads.

Getting Started

My encouragement is to start by rating books you loved and those you hated. That’ll help Goodreads get a feel for other books you may enjoy and the genres you dabble in. I’d shoot for hitting 20 books so that you can start receiving automatic recommendations.

I highly encourage linking your Amazon and Facebook accounts to your Goodreads account to quickly sync books and add friends. You can add all of your Facebook friends en masse, but I don’t recommend that since lots of people have a dormant Goodreads account. 2Being friends with those people means you just see their new friendships in your feed and not book updates, which is my least favorite part of the app. On the Home tab of the app, you can see what your friends are reading or have recently rated and then tap to add those books to your lists too.

The Goodreads app is simple and makes adding books a breeze. You can scan a barcode of a physical book you’re reading or just search for it and add it to one of your three default shelves–read, currently reading, and to-read. You can add more shelves if you want, but I like the simplicity of the defaults. If you’re a particular person (that’s me, I get you), Goodreads even shows you all the different editions of a book, so the cover and page numbers match the book you’re actually reading.

The mobile app is great, but the desktop website version has additional features including:

  • Displaying how many books ahead or behind you are on your yearly reading challenge
  • Seeing your most read authors
  • Finding duplicate listings of books on your shelves
  • Comparing books read with your friends

The last feature, comparing books, is probably my favorite. To see how your reading list compares to a friends, navigate over to Goodreads.com and click on a friend. On your friend’s profile you can click compare books and see what you have both read or hope to read and compare ratings too. Goodreads will even tell you how similar your tastes are in books.

Wrapping Up

I know I’m late to this reader’s social paradise, but maybe you tried Goodreads and gave up or haven’t given it a shot yet. I think you should check it out. I’ve read more because of Goodreads, and it’s proven a whole lot more edifying than most of my time on social media.

One final suggestion: take time to write a simple review–even just a few sentences–on why you liked or disliked a book. Leaving a short review forces me to personally process what I thought about a book. I’m also more inclined to start reading a book that a friend reviewed.

You can find me on Goodreads here.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Goodreads is over 10 years old
2.Being friends with those people means you just see their new friendships in your feed and not book updates, which is my least favorite part of the app.
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