Goodreads: a newbie’s perspective

I never thought I would join Goodreads. It’s a website where you can rate, review, recommend books, plus interact with other book lovers and some authors too. I felt that I didn’t have the time for it, as the more online platforms I’m registered with, the more I feel – to quote Bilbo Baggins – like butter scraped over too much bread.

This blog will always be my number 1 priority for book reviews and other content. I go through phases of using Twitter a lot, as it’s easy to connect with other book lovers and writers and to promote my blog posts. Instagram I never used as much, although that might change since I recently discovered I can upload to it from my computer instead of my phone. Some of my reviews can be found on NetGalley but only perhaps 1 or 2 a month. So where does Goodreads fit in?

When looking for advice for soon-to-be-published authors, I read that it’s worthwhile joining Goodreads, where you can then have an Author Page and interact with other users. Currently I’m on there as a regular book lover. Even before I joined, I knew there were various issues and controversies with the platform. However, as with Amazon (the owner of Goodreads), such a huge source of reviews cannot be ignored and it’s realistically one of the first places that people will try and it does come up very high in search engine results too. Moreover, as I will be publishing my novel through Amazon, I can’t be hypocritical.

After about a week of using Goodreads, I seem to have got the hang of the basics. Here are my impressions of the pros and cons – which of course, if you’re a practised user, you may be able to comment on, or add some of your own:

Pros:

  • You can add any books to any lists that you create. I have added nearly all of the books I own to a list that I’ve called ‘owned books’. I see that other people have created lists of their favourites, or themed lists.
  • The ability to connect with and make friends. Currently I have some friends on there I already knew from other platforms. If I see someone I know, I can send them a friend request.
  • Recommendations based on what you’ve read. It’s always useful to have these and it’s easy to mark them as ‘want to read’.
  • It’s interesting to see what other people on there are reading – which is not necessarily the same as what they are reviewing or featuring on their other platforms.

Cons:

  • The site seems clunky to me and not very user-friendly. It’s annoying to get the ‘captcha’ so often when submitting reviews. I’m fed up of clicking on the parking meters, bridges, etc.
  • When searching for a book, it often appears under the American title and cover design. This shows up how patronising these are and just irritates me because they are not exactly the same as my copies.
  • Ratings. I never use ratings for the reviews on my blog, although I of course have to use them for NetGalley and Amazon. I feel that ratings are not always that helpful and the interpretation varies.
  • It’s difficult to find people on there in the ‘find a friend’ search box. If you want to find me, you have to search for ‘nsford’ because ‘N S Ford’ won’t return a result, I don’t know why.

I’m adding a small selection of my book reviews from this blog to Goodreads, particularly for books without many reviews on there, but the blog is where you’ll see new reviews first.

If you’d like to be friends on Goodreads, here’s the link to my profile.

27 thoughts on “Goodreads: a newbie’s perspective”

  1. I quite often change the edition of the book to the one I am reading/have read instead of the default one the comes up on the search. Look at the different editions on the book’s page and you can select the one you want. (Sorry if you knew this!)

    The most useful thing for me about Goodreads is being able to mark books as “to read”. Instead of scratching my head when searching for a new book I can refer back to that list where I’ve saved books that have been recommended or I’ve liked the sound of along the way.

    I agree that the search facility is pants. It really needs some work.

    1. Aha I didn’t know you could search for different editions, now I have to decide if I want to go over my ‘owned books’ collection and change them 😀 Sounds like you find GR generally a positive resource despite the awful search facility.

  2. I’ve been using goodreads since 2012, but have a lot of issues with it and recently moved to the storygraph, I find it a lot more user-friendly and the personal reading stats (pie charts! Graphs! 😄) are fun.

    1. I have heard of Storygraph, possibly I will check it out sometime. Can’t resist a pie chart! 😀

    1. I didn’t even know you could review without rating! Thanks for the tip 😀

  3. I’ve used Goodreads for years, ever since I ran out of room in my little book! I love some of the features but it is so slow sometimes and the search function is terrible!

    1. Hmm maybe it’s just because I’m new or suspicious. I’m too lazy to search by ISBN but thanks for the tip anyway 🙂

  4. Welcome to Goodreads! While it definitely isn’t perfect, I enjoy it. I use it mostly to keep track of the books I read, as well as keep updated on new books by my favorite authors coming out. Honestly, I don’t use that many of its features.

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you get enjoyment from it. I’m sure that like most platforms, there are a lot of functions that most people don’t use.

  5. I mostly just use Goodreads for record keeping, though I have visions of being more active in some of their book groups ❤️

    1. I think that record-keeping is probably the best use for it. I think if people have the time to participate in the communities on there, that’s great. Again I’m wary of being in too many places at once which just isn’t possible! 🙂

  6. I’m awful with goodreads, to be honest any and all social media I’m pretty rubbish with. I need to figure it out so that I know what I’m doing more because I realise how valuable it is for traffic to my blog. I’ve not come across the captcha screen when writing reviews so maybe that’s a recent thing, I haven’t uploaded a review there for a while.

    1. I think there are so many platforms it’s increasingly difficult to keep up with them, even if you’re a regular user. There just isn’t enough time! I find it’s quite quick to upload reviews of books I’ve already reviewed on my blog so perhaps it’s something you could try.

  7. Interesting to read your comments regarding captchas. I have submitted literally hundreds of reviews to Goodreads and don’t remember ever having to do this… how curious.

    1. I know, others have said that too! Maybe it’s because I’m new?! Thanks for your comment.

  8. I only use WordPress. I started my blog to record what I’ve read but have enjoyed the WordPress experience of it turning into a place where I get to talk about books with other readers. I’m too short of time at the moment to start Goodreads but might in future. I’ve enjoyed reading about your experience with it and the comments/advice you’ve received with this post.

    1. Thanks for your comment 🙂 WordPress is my favourite of all the platforms I use. If I had to only keep one, this would be it 😀 There is no harm starting a Goodreads as you can put as little or as much effort into it as you have time for.

  9. It definitely has its fair share of flaws and I think I just got used to them over the past years. It’s just too useful to find books to really ignore. Glad that you still decided to give it a try and hopefully it’ll have more pros than cons in the coming months/years! 😀

    1. I am yet to explore the ‘finding books to read’ side of it (I already have a lot lined up at the moment) but I will certainly use it for that purpose in the future.

  10. I’m so happy you found me on Goodreads and sent me a friend request! I mostly use GR to keep track of books (read and to be read) but occasionally I find other readers adding new books to be published, which is always exciting to discover!

    1. I kind of wish I had joined earlier but it seemed like too much to get into. I’m not going to use it as much as my blog, or even Twitter and Instagram, but it’s nice to record my reading on there and see what everyone else is reading too! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  11. I’ve been on Goodreads for over ten years now and have adjusted to its quirks and issues. Couple of things that you might find helpful.

    When you search for a book, the edition that appears is the one set by the author as default. After landing on the book page, select “all editions” and select or switch to the one that you own or reading. Someone recommended using the ISBN (or ASIN for Kindle/Audible books) and I highly support that if you have it. I’m a Goodreads librarian and can add missing editions if needed. There’s a Goodreads Librarians group where you can request editions be added. They’re pretty quick about it.

    One of the things I rely on Goodreads for is researching books I’m considering, especially if you’re a member of NetGalley. So often publishers don’t tell you if a book is part of a series, which drives me nuts. Goodreads members do an excellent job of keeping track of series. You can tell if a book is part of a series in several ways. The series name and the book’s number in that series appears directly below the book title in the gray shaded area. It’s also listed in the section appearing above the editions list.

    It’s also a great resource for keeping track of your books…from what you’ve read, to what you want to read to what you’re currently reading. Those are “exclusive” shelves (you can only choose one) but you can create your own shelves to fit your needs. You can create shelves for NetGalley books, library, owned (though I use the data fields for that), by genre or anything based on the way you need them.

    Lastly, I highly recommend joining a few groups so you can find friends. It’s the best way to reach like-minded readers and get great recommendations. Many of my Goodreads friends led me to their blogs. Don’t be worried about how many you join. You can always leave if they don’t later fit well. That’s the path I took and my friends feed my blog.

    Good luck and feel free to ask me questions whenever. I’m always happy to help.

    1. Hi Jonetta, thanks for your reply! It’s really helpful 🙂 I love that there are librarians on there and have just added you as a friend. It seems like such a great resource! Although a bit slow to load on my computer. I feel like I need a lot of extra hours in the day just to explore it. It’s great that you found blog friends that way (I have done it the other way round!) and I hope I’ll find friends on there too. Thanks for the offer of help, I appreciate it! 🙂

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