Monday, March 3, 2014

Why I Love Goodreads

You might be wondering why I do so much linking back to this crazy book site called Goodreads. Why do I use it? What is it for? Is it worth having another online login to remember and keep track of?
I realized that I've mentioned Goodreads quite a few times without actually explaining what it is. Goodreads is an online platform for bookworms, writers, authors, and pretty much anyone who knows how to read. It's a great place to keep track of your books, find recommendations, and see what your friends and family are reading!

When you make a profile on Goodreads, here's what it looks like:
{Click to enlarge}

This is my profile. I include some personal information (like my age) because I like knowing what other people my age are reading. I also include a short description of how much I LOVE to read!

On my page you can view my featured bookshelf and a list of all my shelves, my friends list, what I've recently added, and any authors or quotes that I've recently liked. It's basically the same concept as a Facebook timeline, only it's all about reading (which makes it way better than Facebook, if you ask me).

My Bookshelves:

This is the best aspect of Goodreads, in my opinion. Your profile comes with a few basic bookshelves (read, to-read, and currently-reading), but you can create as many of your own as you want. A few of the ones that I've created and use to organize my reading are: classics, memoir/biography, guilty pleasure, historical fiction, and the lists that I compile for breaks. For example, I went home for a 5 week winter break with 25 books on my list. I read only 3 of those books, but I knew where to look if I needed a new one!

One time, my little brother glanced at my profile and saw that I have 550 books on my to-read list. He laughed and wished me luck. I know I'll probably never get to them all (not since I add new ones every week), but I can sure try!

When you finish reading a book...

Once you've finished reading a book, you mark it as to read and give a rating, out of 5 stars. This is why I do my ratings on the blog out of 5, because it's then easy to sync both of my reviews. When you pull up a book's profile, you can see a whole bunch of information about it. This includes a description, the average rating, the number of ratings and reviews, all of the different editions, publisher information, places to buy/borrow a copy, and on the right hand side, a list of similar books. If you scroll down, you can read community reviews, quotes, and trivia. If you click on the author's name (right below the title), you can read their biography and view their other works. Anything you need/want to know about a book, you can find it here. (Oh, and you can add your own review to the mix too!)

When you're looking for a new read:
When you can't decide what to read next or where to even look for a new book, you can come to your recommendations. Now, to be fair, this isn't the best feature of Goodreads. It really depends on how often you update your reviews and how many books you have on your shelves. The more you read, the more accurate your recommendations will be!

 When I started out on the site in 2011, it kept recommending books written in Arabic. I have no idea why these books kept coming up, because besides a 3-week stint in Morocco (where I only learned how to ask where the outhouse is but still wouldn't have found it without copious hand signaling), I cannot understand Arabic one bit. It gives you recommendations based on your shelves, and if you read a description for a recommended book and you're just not into it, you can click "Not Interested" and it will generate a new book in its place. Easy, simple, and (most of the time) a great option when you're feeling lost!

The Goodreads Challenge:
At the beginning of each year, Goodreads hosts a reading challenge. You get to pick how many books you want to finish, and when you complete a book, you simply set the date you finished it and add it to your "read" shelf. Goodreads tracks all of your books for the challenge and tells you how you're doing. For example, if you look at the above image you'll see that I've completed 14 books for my challenge so far. Goodreads tells me that I'm 5 books ahead of schedule, but I know that will even out to be on track by the end of the semester.

Looking Back:
At the end of the year, you can view the details of your challenge and see how you measured up when compared to previous years. For me, a big part of my personal challenge includes not just reading more each year, but also reading a variety of genres. I love seeing that last year, the majority of my reads warranted four or five stars. That means that I really enjoyed most of the books that I read, which makes me only want to keep reading more! I think it's neat that I can see my longest book read each year (I just now realized how extremely long Don Quixote is, holy moly!) and see the breakdown of shelves/genres that I read.

This, my friends, is the online version of bookworm heaven. I've connected with lots of different readers, and even been contacted by a few authors (thrilling!) when I added their book to my to-read shelf. This is a platform that you can use as much or as little as you want, but in the long run I think it's such a great use of resources, especially when you read as much as I do!

Making a profile is easy (and free!) and the amount of people who have joined Goodreads in the past few years is astounding. They're growing exponentially, and in my experience, it's changed the way that I find new books! If you are on Goodreads or decide to join, make sure to send me a friend request! 

You can view my Goodreads profile here.

*I have not been compensated by Goodreads, nor has anyone representing Goodreads asked me to do this post. I just love this site!*

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