Why you should be on it, and what you might be missing
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a book addict. As an English major, naturally I read a lot, but any of my friends or family will tell you that my literary tastes go well beyond that. From the high fiction of Salman Rushdie to the trashiest of romance novels, my I’ve-been-meaning-to-read-that list definitely runs the gambit.
The problem for me is keeping track of them all.
I joined Goodreads a few years ago, and I have been using and abusing it with great satisfaction. In essence, it is a social networking site for books. Not only does it allow me to keep track of what I’ve read, but it also allows me to immediately add titles to my to-read list should something interesting catch my eye.
Currently I have 63 books on my to-read list. That’s a lot, and there’s absolutely no way I would be able to remember them all had it not been for Goodreads. Now anytime I find myself with some free time, I just scroll through my list and pick out something that I’m in the mood for.
If this wasn’t enough, Goodreads can also sync to your Facebook account, making it easy for you to connect with your friends to make or receive recommendations.
My favourite part about Goodreads is the variety. A book doesn’t have to be widely known for it to be on there. There are plenty of independently published works as well. But with a community-based rating system, it makes it easy to sort out the studs from the duds. If not for this site, I would have never heard of amazing books like Master of Crows by Grace Draven. And don’t even get me started on the comic/graphic novel selection!
Having such a large variety of subject matter can seem daunting to newcomers. But the community on Goodreads is pretty fabulous. It’s one of the only sites where I actually bother to read the reviews, because usually they’re spot-on—at least when it comes to the level of writing and potentially hazardous subject matter. For example, I recently read Wool: The Graphic Novel Omnibus for Comic Corner, and one of the snafus mentioned in its reviews was the lack of racial diversity compared to the original novel. Lo and behold, that was an issue I came to notice as well.
Also within the community are groups. Groups are free to join and often contain reading lists or reading goals to achieve. They feature interactive forums, news posts, and sometimes even author participation. Among the most popular is the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club, which focusses on romantic speculative fiction, usually urban fantasy or paranormal, but it depends on what their theme is for the month. It is run by Felicia Day, Bonnie Burton, Veronica Belmont, and Kiala Kazebee—authors and book connoisseurs in their own right, who come together at the end of every month through Google Hangouts on air, to discuss their thoughts on that month’s pick. Usually to much drunkenness and hilarity.
The high accessibility of the site doesn’t hurt either. With an app for just about any device you can think of, updating your Goodreads is super easy. Currently I have one on my phone, as well as my e-reader, and they both function amazingly well.
Though Goodreads separates its selection by genre, further categorization is also possible through a reader’s use of “shelves.” Shelves are user-created groups that can help organize your reading list, either for yourself or for fans of your tastes. My friends and followers interested in seeing only the comics/graphic novels I’ve read, or questioning why I ever picked up The History of Mr. Polly by H.G. Wells (it was for a class), need only look at my shelves to find out. Though not necessary to use the site, it’s a handy option if you read a lot.
All in all, I would call Goodreads an incredibly useful tool, and I have recommended it to many of the book-fanatics in my life.