I love it when I find a website that just gets me! I have several favorite sites that I spend way too much time on, sites like Facebook and Pinterest. Another favorite site, and the subject of this post, is Goodreads.

Goodreads is one of those sites that gets me. If you’ve never heard of it before, Goodreads is all about books—a massive catalog of books and authors, with groups and discussion forums. The site’s About Us page states that “Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.”

I’ve been a member since August 2012 and have visited the site almost every day since. Yes, I am aware there is some controversy surrounding the site: a dustup after Amazon acquired the site in 2013 and instances of authors and readers not being nice to one another. There are pros and cons with every website. For me, the pros of Goodreads far outweigh any of the negative.

Below is a list of some of the things I love about the site (in no particular order).

Bookshelves

I love books and I love making lists. So, for me, the virtual bookshelves offered by Goodreads is a match made in Heaven. When you first sign up, you get three shelves: To-Read, Currently-Reading, and Read. You can create more shelves depending on how you want to organize your books. Some people can get a little mean with their bookshelf names, but I recommend keeping things civil. I have three additional shelves: Favorites, Writing-Guides, and Not-For-Me.

My favorite part about bookshelves is that I can keep track of what books I want to read. My memory is terrible, so having a database (that is not my brain) keep track of my to-read list for me is invaluable.

New Friends

Goodreads is a community of like-minded individuals. We all love books. Because of this, it’s easy to connect to other people who have similar interests in reading. When I signed up with Goodreads, I connected my account with my Facebook account so I could see which of my Facebook friends were already signed up with Goodreads. Then I could stalk them look at what books they’ve read or are reading. Since then, I’ve met some great people through discussion groups. It’s fun to see what everyone is reading.

By the way, you can find me on Goodreads at: http://www.goodreads.com/kellicallahan

Groups

There’s a group for practically everything on Goodreads: YA, mystery, thriller, romance, science fiction, you name it. There are book club groups and writing groups. There are groups for readers who like explicit romance and readers who like their books squeaky clean. If you can think of it, I’m sure a group already exists.

I’m a member of several groups. My favorite by far is the Sword and Laser book club, a group that recommends and discusses either a fantasy or science fiction book each month. I’ve found several favorite books through this group, books I probably would not have picked up otherwise.

Groups are a wonderful place to find book recommendations.

Reviews

I’ve had a lot of fun writing reviews and sharing my opinion about a book after I’ve read it. The rating system on Goodreads is a five star system, one star means you hated the book and five starts means you adored it.

In the beginning, I adopted the brutal honesty approach to reviewing. I don’t think I was mean, but I would expound on what I thought was wrong with the book if I didn’t like it. I recently decided to change the way I review books on the site. I’ve deleted all of my 1 and 2 star reviews. I won’t rate or write a review on anything under 3 stars. If I truly don’t like a book, I’ll either put it in my Not-For-Me bookshelf without a rating or ignore it completely.

Why the change? Well, I hope to one day be part of the writing community and I want to avoid the awkward situation of possibly meeting an author I’ve given a bad review to. Also, I just feel better about myself and about life when I focus on the positive.

Challenges

There are a number of challenges that a Goodreads member can participate in. For example, I’ve seen an A-Z challenge where readers will try to read an author (or book title) that corresponds to each letter in the alphabet.

The challenge I like to participate in is the official yearly reading challenge. Each year you set a goal of how many books you want to read and Goodreads keeps track of how you’re doing. The site will let you know how many books you are ahead or behind in your challenge. This year I’ve challenged myself to read 35 books. I’m two books behind at the moment, but I’ll catch up within the next couple of weeks.

I love the yearly challenge because it pushes me. I plan on increasing my goal each year by a book or two until I can read a book a week.

 

Have you tried Goodreads? If so, what do you think about the site? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.