Friday, April 15, 2011

Organization, "bookshelves" and Goodreads

Organizing the mess?

I don't use Goodreads all that often or all that well. I signed up years ago but never really took advantage of the site for anything more than a way to keep track of what books I read. Usually I don't even add details like dates - the when always seems to define itself in my mind - and limit my shelves to the standard offered ones.

I'm uneducated about much regarding my Goodreads page. On the one hand, I recognize that a lot of book bloggers use this tool, both on the social level but also for categorization. Book social networking sites provide readers with different takes on book categorization. (it should be noted I focus on Goodreads as it is the most popular of the free sites, even if it lacks the categorization wonder and depth of LibraryThing, which requires payment)

What are the correct uses for Goodreads? Friending internet strangers because you liked a review they wrote? Connecting with fellow book bloggers? Tagging the books you've read in an organized manner however you want? Or simply maintaining a list of books read with the rare review and the occasional personal comment (eBook, date read, etc.)? At this point, I've added over 600 books to my Goodreads account, including books I read as a child, series I've forced myself to complete and even the occasional textbook I've studied from.

Their recommendations
Yet in my account, these all fall in the same category: "read". I have added no books to my TBR shelf (for fear of discovering that number does, in fact, exceed 100... by a lot, perhaps...) and as I typically start and finish books over the course of a day without updating Goodreads, only a title here and there could qualify for the "currently-reading" shelf. I have no shelves based on genres, no shelves based on ratings, no shelves based on year (or to be more accurate, era)... nothing.

I suppose part of it is a lack of appeal for definitions and fixed facts. Ratings are flexible - I can amend them if needed (and do so frequently when my opinion of a book changes over time). Reviews are multi-faceted - they express the thinking behind the reader. But shelves? Genres are so flexible and ever-changing... how can I just come up with a bunch of genres that ought to make sense to other readers within such tight confines?

A few months ago, I sorted my Calibre eBook library. One of the most difficult tasks was tagging the books. In this case,these are books I haven't read. Their titles reveal little. I have trouble remembering their authors and their titles. One of the ways I organized the books was by genre. Another was century. A third still was region. For the most part, regional and genre bookshelves were given silly and eccentric titles (not something that works as well on Goodreads).

Doing something like this for my Goodreads library just doesn't click. I can't really see it happening. But if that's the case, is there something else I should be doing with Goodreads? Am I truly misusing the site, ignoring its primary uses? Is this even possible? It leads me to wonder how most readers use their book social networking site of choice. Do they, like me, maintain anonymity and avoid any personal disclosures? Or do most prefer to take advantage of the tools and choices offered to them, writing numerous reviews and sharing titles?


  1. I wish I had some answers for you, but I'm in the same boat you are with Goodreads. I'm not quite sure what to do with it. I started using Shelfari to display books on my blog, only because that was what I saw on other blogs so it was easy to set up. I started a Goodreads account, entered in one book, and then stopped.

    Please, if you figure out the secret to Goodreads, let me know!

  2. I pretty much just post modified reviews of books I have read to my Goodreads account. I Know lots of people use it as a place to keep track of books they want to read and books they've heard of and want to investigate further. Still others have cataloges their library on it. I've got my library cataloged on LibraryThing because it is more suited to that. And books I want to read I keep on a list on my computer. So I think how you use, or don't use Goodreads is up to you and what works best for you.

  3. I'm not sure I'm getting the most out of Goodreads, but I find it very helpful. I like to have multiple books going at once and it helps me keep track of what I'm reading. I use the review feature to make notes that will help me remember what I've read and why I liked it, favorite quotes, etc. I've set up very basic shelf categories (fiction, mysteries, non-fiction, poetry, plays) and that and the date read lets me find things. I've only really been using it since last summer, and don't really use it much for networking. I enjoy reading other folks reviews from time to time, and I always think it's fun when I'm one of the first to write a review--then I take it less as just my own notes and more as trying to be helpful to another reader. Susan E

  4. I've been a LibraryThing lifetime member since about a month after the site was founded, and I loved it dearly and participated a lot for years. I still love it, but since I've been blogging I just don't have quite as much use for it. And I realized that for the past few months I haven't been very good about recording all the books that make their way into my home--strange, because the cataloguing itself was always my favorite part. So I too have been feeling a bit at loose ends over what the current point of this book social networking is. (In the case of LT, as well, the site has changed a ton from when I was active. I feel like the community is really different, the atmosphere is different, and it's not as "me," anymore, so that's a confounding factor.)

  5. Likewise! I signed up long ago before I had a book blog, and never really got into it. Now that I'm blogging, I would love to try it again. I do see people posting their Goodreads to twitter, and maybe it's one more way to connect with other readers who might then be interested in your blog. If I figure anything astounding out, will let you know - look forward to reading other people's responses on this!

  6. I began my Goodreads account when I wanted to keep track of all the books I'd borrowed- I find it helpful now at school when my shelf is mostly textbooks or French dictionaries. I use vague star ratings and only categorize "read" books into whether or not I read them younger than 12. It's more a helpful reminder to me than a social networking tool. I had a LibraryThing for awhile and preferred that, but lost my password.

  7. One of the things that I like about Goodreads is that I have designated different shelves to keep track of different things, i.e, books read in 2010, 2011,etc...

  8. Well after reading this I went back in & started to get my GR profile updated. This time I found I knew more people there, which really helps, and I loved seeing what they are reading & what they marked as to-read. Thanks for the motivation :D.

  9. long ago, I start a Goodreads account and a Library Thing account, but over time I only keep the LT one up to date.
    OI faithfully enter all new books in my list, ones I own, one I borrow and e-books all tagged accordingly.
    For me it about keeping track of what I own and what I read and review and the 'social' aspect..the discussions and all... not so much anymore

  10. I've started using both LibraryThing and Goodreads lately, and I've enjoyed them both. I use LibraryThing to catalog my existing books and Goodreads is where I've been keeping my wishlist. There's no particular reason to do it that way; it just sort of happened. I like the social aspect of Goodreads -- seeing what friends are reading and how they rate books, and I like the satisfaction of marking a book as finished.


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