I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people say that they don’t really know how to use Goodreads, that they don’t use it for anything other than posting reviews, that they don’t understand the point of certain things, etc. Goodreads is one of the few social media sites I legitimately use and somewhat click with, and while I am by no means an expert or wildly popular on there, I was inspired to make a post that explains what I personally use the site for. This is probably more of a discussion than actual advice, but I did include a few tips at the end for features you might not know about. I figure maybe my post will help some people or just be an interesting thing to discuss and allow me to find out how other people use Goodreads since I always like hearing all your thoughts!
What I Use Goodreads For
This one is self-explanatory, right? I feel like posting reviews is what almost book reviewer uses Goodreads for. It helps authors get more readers for their books, and it also helps potential readers like me who really use reviews to make decisions about books.
Posting Updates While Reading
I always like to mark what I’m currently reading on Goodreads. And if I come across any quotes that I just have to share, or I have any thoughts about something that’s awesome or exciting or cute or weird, or I’m just really loving the book so far, I’ll post updates while reading. And then (for anyone who’s never noticed or used updates), when you’re done with the book, all those updates show up at the bottom of the review page under “reading progress.”
Posting General Updates
I also sometimes post general updates when I have bookish thoughts or questions. I tend to get more interaction than on Twitter, and Twitter doesn’t give me enough characters to use anyway.
Liking and Commenting on Other People’s Reviews and Updates
Every so often (sometimes I check it numerous times throughout the day, other times I go days without checking, it just depends) I take some time to scroll through my feed and see what everyone else is up to. I read reviews and updates, like some that sound good or seem helpful, comment on interesting things, add books to my TBR, etc. If I follow the person’s blog, I’ll sometimes save my comments for the blog post though.
Reading Reviews and Getting More Info for Books I’m Considering
I do like to know about books before I read them, so Goodreads is my go-to place. It’s really easy to filter reviews to find ones of various different ratings. But I don’t just use reviews. Sometimes I also look to see what people shelved the book as since Amazon tells you genres, but they’re not always accurate, and they don’t tell you, for example, what paranormal creatures are in the book or other types of details that people often use shelves for. (But be warned, shelves sometimes contain spoilers.)
This is also pretty self-explanatory. It makes it easier to see when they have new books coming out, and some authors even have blog posts or also post book reviews.
Asking and Answering Questions
This actually frustrates me because sometimes there’s something you just can’t figure out from the reviews, and so being able to ask a question about a specific book is the perfect solution, yet so often questions go unanswered. But that’s why I try to answer questions when I can about books I’ve read.
I will admit I am notoriously bad at participating in groups. But there are lots of R2R (read to review) groups and forums where authors (usually self-published) offer books, and I like to peruse some of those, like the Lovers of Paranormal group.
Lists are super helpful when you’re looking for a specific type of book. For example, if you want a Cinderella retelling, you can type that into the search, then click the “listopia” tab, and voila! You’ve got whole lists to help you find them. Each individual book page also shows lists that that book is in, and that can be a great way of finding more books that are similar to the ones you like.
Shelving My Books
Even though my shelves might be helpful to other people, I use shelves solely for myself. I have about a million shelves, but they make it so easy to keep track of things. If I wanted to know how many books I’ve read this year that had vampires in them, it would only take me ten seconds because all I’d have to do is click on that shelf. You can even filter your books by combining shelves (i.e. showing only books that are in the vampire shelf AND the young adult shelf), but that’s something I’ll explain below. Of course you actually have to shelve each book after you read it, but that only takes a few seconds.
Keeping Track of my Yearly Goodreads Challenge
Definitely self-explanatory. It’s funny, when I first started using GR, I didn’t really see the point of it because I keep my own book journal on my computer, but GR already proved it’s worth last year when I discovered my list was missing numerous books.
Free books are the best! Need I say more? And the thing is, even though I’ve only won two giveaways, I’ve found SO MANY new books I was interested in just by looking through the giveaways list.
It’s cool because you can ask for whatever specific thing you’re looking for and reach a big audience since not only do all of your friends/followers see it in their feeds, everyone on GR can see it and respond (not sure how that works if you have your profile set to private though). You can also go to the recommendations section and see the list of what others are looking for in case you have any recs. It’s kind of hit or miss though. I think I’ve only used it once. Half the recs I got didn’t even match what I was asking for, but I did get one or two good recs at least that I might not have found otherwise!
You may already know all these, but they’re just some things I didn’t figure out right away but that have proven very useful to me now.
Filtering Your Feed
On the home page, there’s a little button to the top right of the feed that says “customize.” I customize it according to how much time I have. If I’m pressed for time, I set it to “Reviews only” and “Top friends only.” That way I can see the most important stuff quickly. When I have more time, I set it to “Everything” and “All friends and people I follow.” And sometimes I’ll set it to any combination of those.
Filtering Your Shelves
You probably already know that you can click on one of your shelves to be shown only the books that are on that shelf, but did you know you can select multiple shelves and show only the books that are on both, in order to narrow it down even further? Just go to “My Books,” then click one the first shelf you want, then scroll down to the bottom of the shelf list and click “select multiple.” Little plus signs will then appear next to each shelf, and you just have to click the plus signs for whichever other shelves you want.
Choosing Which of Your Actions Show Up in Other People’s Feeds
You know how any time you do anything on Goodreads (post a review, enter a giveaway, take a quiz, comment on someone’s status, vote on a list, etc.) it shows up on your profile and in other people’s feeds? Well you can actually control that under “Account Settings” and then the “Feeds” tab. So, for example, if you love taking quizzes but don’t want to clutter up the feeds, you can just uncheck that box.
Making a “Top Friends” List
Honestly, this one is a pain, but it’s worth it if you want to filter your feed. First you have to go to your friends list, then you have to click “edit friends.” That will bring up a column with little checkboxes that allow you choose your top friends. Except you have to go page by page and re-click “edit friends” each time.