Everyone knows Facebook ,and Twitter, and Instagram, but one of the most beloved social media sites you might not know about is Goodreads. If you’re a reader though, you’ve likely heard of Goodreads. It’s a social media platform all about books–sharing what you’re reading, talking about books, and discovering new books you want to read. Using Goodreads can seem simple: create an account and go. Look for books. Mark them as “read”. Create a reading challenge to track how many books you read each year. As a long-time Goodreads user, and a Goodreads librarian, I’d like to give you a few tips for using Goodreads like a genius, and getting the most out of the site

Make a reading challenge–and use the statistics

One of the most useful ways people use Goodreads is to track their reading. When you mark a a book as “currently reading” you can update your progress as you progress through the pages, write reviews along the way, or mark as “read” if you’ve finished/read it before and insert a review. You’ll also get a chance to leave a 1-5 star review. 

Creating a reading challenge helps you specifically track your reading for a calendar year, and will also tell you how many books “behind” or “ahead of” schedule you are. It’s super useful. 

You can also look at your statistics per year–this is based not necessarily on when you marked a book as “read” but what dates you put in for reading it on Goodreads–for example, you can mark previous years’ reading. You’ll go to “My Books” and then click the button that says “Statistics” along the upper right hand corner of the display. 

There, Goodreads displays some interesting stats year to year–number of books read, pages read, the year the books you read were published, etc. This can provide a unique insight into your reading habits!

For example, as of the writing of this article I’ve read 20% of the books I read total last year, but already 26% of the pages I read last year. I’m definitely reading some thicker books so far this year!

Create an exclusive shelf

Shelving on Goodreads is a great way to organize what you are reading, what you have read, and what you want to read. Those are the three ways Goodreads gives you automatically to shelve your books–but you can create your own shelves as well. For example, you could shelve biographies separate from memoirs, et cetera. Your shelves can be either “exclusive” or not. An exclusive shelf means that it cannot appear on one of the other exclusive shelves. Want to Read is an exclusive shelf, for example. If it’s on Want to Read and you move it to Currently Reading, it’s off Want to Read.  Other shelves, like ones I’ve created for ‘ARCS’ are not exclusive–a book on my “Want to Read” Shelf can also be marked as “ARCS”

I created an exclusive shelf to mark books I can’t finish–DNF–for whatever reason. That way, I know what they are. I don’t “want to read them” anymore, but I also haven’t “already read” them and it doesn’t feel right to just…delete them from “My Books” completely. 

To create an exclusive shelf, go to My Books, click the “add shelf” button along the left side, and give it a name. Then, click “edit shelves” a little higher up. A grid will appear, showing all your shelves and various checked boxes. Follow the fourth column–exclusive–and check it for the shelf you just created, or uncheck it, if you don’t want a new shelf to be exclusive. 

Giveaways

One of the hidden secrets of Goodreads is the giveaways that publishers and authors utilize to promote their books. Yes, that’s right–they are giving away free books! Giveaways are only accessible through the desktop site–not the app–and they offer hundreds at any time, both physical books and e-books. You can enter for as many as you like, and you’ll receive an email if you win–plus, the books shows up to your house! You’ll enter an address, of course, but if you want to enter for the Kindle giveaways, you’ll have to link your Amazon account. Obviously, anyone can enter, so some books have 15K people trying to win 5 copies, but I have won well over a hundred giveaways in the past few years–ranging from very popular books to Indie authors making their debut. 

Many of these books are “advanced reader copies” meaning they are not finished copies of the book. Usually, the story is complete, and it’s mostly been edited, but they still may make a few changes for grammar/clarity/that sort of stuff. ARCS are intended to be used for promotional purposes and to garner reviews for when the book releases. It’s not illegal, but it is super tacky to sell ARCs and that will get you kicked out of most book groups. If you win an ARC, you can keep it, pass it on for free, or trade it for other ARCs. 

Groups

If you like connecting with other readers–especially if you like specific groups for readers of romance, chick lit, certain series, fantasy dystopian, or whatever else–I recommend joining Goodreads groups. There are a billion of them, I swear, and you’ll definitely find your home in one of them! You can also make your own, if you want, and it’s pretty easy to link to books within Goodreads for an easy recommending experience. 

Log your favorite quotes

One of my favorite hidden aspects of Goodreads is the quotes! There are tons of great quotes from books and authors on there already–and you can also add your own. You can view the quotes already on the website here, and like and save them as you wish. You can search for certain books, certain authors, certain themes, et cetera.

Plus, if you link your Amazon Kindle account, when you highlight a quote in that e-book it will save to your Goodreads so you can find it again–a real win for those of us who fall in love with quotes but can’t stop reading. 

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member