“ Book recommendations and more. „
GoodReads.com is a social networking website designed to meet the needs of book readers. It's free to join and members can share their list of books, rate & review books, as well as finding out about authors, book events (such as book signings), book trivia and more.
I found out about GoodReads.com through a friend's blog and decided to check it out. I have shelves and piles of books and thought that the website would be a useful tool to keep track of what I have and haven't got etc, so I signed up (which was easy and required minimal information, and GoodReads.com promise not to send spam or sell email addresses). I added my blogging friend to my GoodReads.com friends list and checked to see if any of my other friends were members of the website as well as inviting one or two friends. Inviting friends is easy and can be done in a couple of different ways... Friends can be added from your email account's address book (if you are with a provider such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL), as well as from Facebook, Twitter or Plaxo. I didn't want to send out a mass of invites (especially to friends who aren't interested in reading) so I chose the manual option where by you simply type in their email address to check if they're a member, and if they aren't then you click the button to send them an invite.
Adding books to your book list (in the "My Books" section) is easy too... For books I had to hand I simply typed in their ISBN (found with the barcode on the back of the book) into the search bar and added the book, selecting whether I was to-read it, I'd read it or was currently reading it. It's as simple as that! However, you can also add other details such as how many stars out of 5 you would give it after reading it, whether you want to add it to a certain bookshelf (for example: I've created a bookshelf called "Auto-biographies" because I read a fair few of them), a review, when you started/finished reading the book, how many times you've read it, who you'd recommend it to, when you bought it etc. You can add as little or as much detail as you want about each book. There are other ways of adding books, not just by ISBN... You can search for a particular book title or author, and if you can't find a particular book on GoodReads.com you can use the search tool to search via Amazon (US, UK, Fr etc!) or Barnes & Noble. You can also manually add a book to the GoodReads.com database... especially handy if you're a publisher or author, or you can import books using a couple of different methods. Once books are on your list, you can edit it's review/details etc at a later date and friends can leave comments on them.
You can also use GoodReads.com to find out about a book you'd like to read or maybe search a genre to find recommended books to read. You can see how others have rated them as well as reviews for the books. For example... Going to the "Find Books" section and selecting the "Biography" genre will take you to a list of popular biography books - this page current shows 1-50 of 20,979 biography books, so there isn't a shortage of books to look for! These biography books range from "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" to "Born Standing Up: A Comics Life" by Steve Martin. Well, think of a biography and it's probably in there. I've not yet failed to find any book I've been searching for.
Clicking the "Popular" tab under "Find Books" will take you to a page showing the books most read this week, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, this week is showing up "Twilight" and "New Moon" by Stephenie Meyer. The section also lists popular books in general, unpopular books, new releases this month and new releases this year.
Also under the "Find Books" section is the "Giveaways" page - this is where people, authors and publishers giveaway a number of books (sometimes it's just 1, other times it's a handful). Often these books being given away are pre-releases... The whole idea of it all is that if you win a book they would like you to add it to your list when you receive it and then rate & review it when you've read it (as a little promotion for them). There is no obligation to do this if you do win a book, but I think it would help you win another if you were to do so. Each giveaway will tell you how many copies of that book are available to win and how many people have entered so far. You don't have to answer any questions, you simply enter into whatever giveaways you like... providing your country is listed in the availability... and submit your address (which you will have entered when joining the website). There are loads of giveaways at any one time. Now, I only joined GoodReads.com over Christmas/New Year (2009/2010) and I've already won one of the giveaways! I know, I was surprised too! I won a book called "The Optimist: One Man's Search for the Brighter Side of Life" by Laurence Shorter and I received the book in the mail the day after I received the email telling me I'd won. I'm currently in the middle of reading another book at the moment, but as I won this book it will be jumping to next in the queue so I can rate and review it for GoodReads.com.
There is also a discussion area in the "Find Books" section where books can be discussed (obviously!), but I haven't participated in that side of things yet. The "Find Books" section is also home to an Ebooks area where various ebooks can be downloaded in a variety of formats (PDF, MP3 etc), these are also free!
Other parts of the website include the never-ending book quiz (which is good for when you've nothing better to do!), authors (including blog posts, interviews etc), videos (film trailers, author interviews etc), writing (why not share your own stories and poems), event listings and book swaps (although this section is currently only available in the US, but I believe they are working to get it running in other countries). You can also join a number of book groups through the website.
As I'm sure you can tell from my review, there is a lot to this website (I'd be here for a long time writing about every detail!). GoodReads.com is THE definitive book website/social network in my opinion and I could talk about it all day!
In design terms, this website is simple (which is good due to the amount of content it holds), yet it still looks up-to-date and is simple to use. I have had no problems in finding my way around the website or in using it. If members (or would-be members) do have any problems then there is a help section and the link for this can be found at the base of each page, however I have not felt the need to use it.
All in all, I highly recommend GoodReads.com to anyone with an interest in books. Whether you're a casual reader or an avid reader of books, GoodReads.com provides not only a useful tool, but a useful social network... and who knows, you may win a book too!
(Please note: This review is also on my personal website).
This is a fantastic site for bookworms. It is essentially like an online book group and is a place to store your own information, lists and reviews about books so it is also like an online book journal that you can share with others.
I have used the site for a few months now and find it is very easy to navigate your way through and is always quick. It's free to sign up and use and you don't get any annoying adverts pop up either.
To start with this is a good place to list all your books. It is great for those, like me, who have hundreds of books and could do with a system for categorising them and getting yourself organised. I did start to do this but it is a mammoth task and one I just add to every now and then. You can organise your virtual bookshelves however you want to but I have sections for books I have read, my wishlist books and books I own that I haven't yet got round to reading - my To Be Read section. I also try to update the books I am currently reading whenever I can. When you add books, if you want to you can add a quick rating out of 5. If you have more time you can add some notes for yourself or even a long review. This is a great way of storing all your thoughts without having to keep an actual journal.
For me, the best thing about this site is that you can add your friends to it so that you can all share your booklists with each other. This is easy to do - there is a search facility for all of your hotmail contacts and it will tell you if they are already members or you can invite other bookworms to join up. It can be very interesting having a sneak peek through other people's bookshelves - something I am always finding myself doing in real life! You can also compare your bookshelves to theirs - this can be fascinating; it calculates how many books you have in common and even tells you how similar your ratings are. You can also see side-by-side what you have both rated books you have read. Searching through other people's lists and reading their reviews can also be a great way to add to your wish list and you send recommendations to friends if you read anything you know they would like. There is also a page where you can read any current updates from your friends to see if anything new has been added.
Once you have found your way around these parts of the site, I would then recommend you to explore the group section. You can join any group you want to and there are thousands of groups to chose from! Luckily there is an easy search engine you can use to find something in particular, such as a genre of book or an author you like. There are also general book groups, groups which set you particular challenges or specific books to read and then discuss. For instance I am member of 4 groups and although not particularly active in them I do read the reviews and recommendations left on the forums when I feel like I need new ideas to read. The group called 'constant reader' is my favourite. As well as general chat they read one classic and one modern book each month to discuss. I think groups like this are great for people who want to be able to discuss books but don't want to join an actual book group - for whatever reason! You can be as active as you want, although as I tend to read just what I feel like, I find it hard to be as structured as keeping to a schedule but if they ever read a book I have already then I can join in!
There are many other sections in this website as well, It is best to spend an hour or so just looking through the different sections and finding things that interest you. I have found that I enjoy the explore books section - there are always many different lists to browse through such as 'most read books', 'best books of 2008', 'best historical fiction' etc. You can vote in these polls yourself and they are constantly updated. There is also a place to search for favourite quotes about reading, a trivia quiz that is ongoing as people can submit questions to it and there are often competitions to enter as well.
Overall, this is an excellent site for anyone who has an obsession for books or for someone who is looking for ideas of other authors to try.