Why every reader needs a Goodreads account

If you’re like me, you’ve checked out several websites that serve as digital bookshelves, but thought they looked like a waste of time. And, if you’re like me, you read that one story about the spaceship in 7th grade (or was it 8th grade?) and would love to re-read it but, for the life of you, can’t seem to remember the author or title. Additionally, if you’re like me, you oftentimes see books at the library, bookstore, airport, or other such place and are interested in checking them out but quickly forget their titles and never actually wind up reading them when you have the time. Finally, if you’re like me, you would love to know how many books you read in 2009, or how many pages you read in 2010, but certainly aren’t going to go through the effort of adding it all up.

For these reasons and more, Goodreads has become my new favorite website! At first glance it doesn’t seem very useful, but it actually has a ton of functionality. With the iPhone app I’m able to scan the barcodes of all my books and then organize them however I choose. I can also use this feature when I’m on-the-go, such as at the library or airport, and add the books to my “to-read” shelf. I can then check them out later and decide if I actually want to read them. The shelves are essentially tags, and can be used to organize books any way you choose. For example, I have a shelf that lists all the books I remember reading for my undergrad degree (check it out here), I have an ongoing shelf for all my seminary books (here), and I’m even going to start creating more specific shelves to help me in ministry later (such as church history, parenting, and coaching). Another useful feature (which you’ve likely noticed by now) is the ability to share my shelves with others.

Also, on my homepage, under the “Currently Reading” section, I can update my status as I work through a book. While this initially seems silly and vain, it will actually help me remember the contents of every book I read. I say this because, when I update what page I’m on, I can add some notes. I plan on using this section to type up a one-paragraph summary of the contents I just read. This forces me to recall what I just read (thus embedding it more effectively in my memory) and gives me a place I can go in the future to review the contents of the book.

After I finish reading a chapter in a book I want to remember for later, I will type up a brief summary.

When I finish a book, I’m able to write a review that will be shared with other readers and can give me a good reference to return to in the future. Another feature I like is that I can include the date I finish reading a book. This allows me to track how many books I’ve read, when I’ve read them, and what I thought of them. There’s also a cool “stats” area that shows me how many books you read (or how many pages, or what year they were published).

So, for these reasons and more, I can’t recommend this website enough! I am excited to see what other useful features they come out with next. What about you? Can you think of any other cool ways to use Goodreads.com?