Using Goodreads

Using Goodreads

In my post about ways to find great books to read, I mentioned Goodreads.

If you’ve never used Goodreads, you may have glossed over the mention, but it’s worth a closer look.

Goodreads is a social networking site that’s focused on books. Set up your profile and you can begin entering books. You can use it to track the books you’ve read. You can use it to track the books you want to read. You can use it to see what your friends are reading, and what they think of the books they’ve finished.

Don’t want to share what you’re reading? You don’t have to; you can simply use it to record your own books.

Afraid to enter a slew of data on a free site? You can export your data in a .csv, .txt., or .xls format. If you’ve got book data in one of those formats, you can import it too, and save yourself some typing.

While technically I’ve been a member of Goodreads since 2010, I’ve only really been using it this year. I’ve enjoyed it enough that I’ve been working my way through the records of what books I’ve read, entering the books into the database. It’s reminded me of some terrific books, and reminded me of authors I want to see if they’ve written anything more.

Although I’ve been keeping track of the books I’ve read since 1999 (no, I’m not kidding), the basic Word document I used doesn’t have the same sorting capabilities, so I’ve been having fun adding shelves (for the different categories) and seeing the stats and recommendations it generates from my data.

You can set an annual reading goal, and it will track it for you throughout the year, letting you know if you’re on pace to meet your goal. On a whim I decided to set a goal and it’s been a lot of fun seeing how I’m doing toward the goal.

If you’re a member of Goodreads, I’d love to connect with you on there!

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with Goodreads in any way. They don’t know that I exist. I am just a very happy user!


  1. Well, I’m on there… but I haven’t found the time to really stick with it, or list what I’m reading. Or maybe I just haven’t found the motivation. Which lends itself to a future post idea, perhaps: why you should keep track of what you read. Would love to hear your thoughts on that!

    • I like that post idea! Especially because I don’t think it would have occurred to me to write it – of course it’s good to keep track of what you read (so says the ridiculously geeky person who loves that sort of thing and never stops to think about the why behind it).

  2. So, does your Good Read account link to your blog, or is it pretty much just a self-contained network? I’m wondering if it would boost my blog traffic in some way or just be another way to spend time (considering that I already record what I read on my blog–I do think that’s a great function of Good Reads, I’m just not sure I need that).

    • The GoodReads account links here, and if I wanted to I could have reviews I post there automatically show up here (I haven’t done that, because I prefer to write/edit them in WordPress instead).

      I haven’t noticed any blog traffic coming over from there although:
      1) I don’t track traffic that closely.
      2) I don’t have that many friends over there, and haven’t especially worked that hard at getting more.
      3) Many (most?) of the friends I have over there already read the blog, so I wouldn’t expect them to head over here from there, if that makes sense.

      If I had been setting up the account purely as a way to drive blog traffic I think I’d be disappointed, but I didn’t so I’m not. It hasn’t been simply another way to spend time for me because the time I’ve spent on it has been worthwhile. My previous method of using a word document (alphabetical by author, and then duplicated in date order over the last 4 or so years) worked if all I cared about was knowing if I’d read a specific book by a specific author. When I tried to remember the top Holocaust memoirs I’d read for someone who asked me for some recommendations it was a huge pain to scroll through hundreds of pages to find the ones I’d rated the highest. With the data in Goodreads I can find them in two clicks at most.

      I’ve really really enjoyed being able to quickly find my favorite reads in various categories, and being able to cross-list books in multiple categories. I like the stats about books/pages read in different years, although that alone would not be worth using it for that info (that’s more of just a “huh. interesting” kind of thing.)

      I wouldn’t recommend you (or anyone) set up an account and immediately put a lot of time or effort into entering books read in the past. I’d suggest starting by just entering books as you finish them, and see how useful you may find it. I used it that way for a few months before I started slowly adding the older books.

      I’m not sure that I’d say anyone needs Goodreads, or any of the alternate sites. I would say that I’ve found it a lot more useful than I first expected, and well worth the time I spent entering data (much of which was done while keeping my son company as he played nearby and only wanted me to comment occasionally at what a great job he was doing putting that puzzle together.)


  1. […] the comments for a recent post about using Goodreads, Elizabeth asked why should you keep track of the books you […]

  2. […] I’ve written in general about why to use Goodreads. […]

Leave a Comment