Better Reading with Goodreads

bookshelf

I grew up in a reading household. The morning paper was part of breakfast. Both my parents are avid readers and a number of the walls in their house are still lined with bookshelves. On some shelves the books are two deep.

One of the things I remember about my dad's reading in particular was his lists of books. He kept lists of books he'd read and lists of things he wanted to read. I emulated that on paper when I was younger, but gave it up somewhere in my teen years.

I logged roughly 75,000 miles a year each of the last three years. One positive side effect of this travel was getting me back in the habit of reading books. Some great non-fiction stuff entered my world, but I also read more novels over that stretch than I had in a few years.

I started using Goodreads about the same time I ramped up my travel mileage. I use it the same way my dad used lists to track his books. Goodreads is free and works on iOS, Android and the web. The more I use Goodreads, the more I continue to find great features.

Below are some of my favorite features of Goodreads.

Finding Literary Events

This one is a little obvious because Events is actually one of the main menu items. I find it really useful when I travel. There are several great author readings and book signings I found because I checked Goodreads while I was in town.

Scan Books with the Android or iPhone App

Whether it's a book already on your shelf or one you might want to read later, the Goodreads smartphone app makes it easy to scan either the cover of the book or the UPC code on the back and look up the title.

Link Goodreads to your Kindle Account

Amazon owns Goodreads, so it makes sense the Kindle platform is integrated. I add a steady list of books to my Want to Read list on Goodreads. When you link your Kindle account to your Goodreads account you can easily browse the Want to Read list on your Kindle when you're ready to find your next book.

Share Kindle Quotes on Goodreads

I'm not a big passage highlighter, but this feature is pretty cool. Anytime you highlight something in a book on your Kindle, you have the option to share that quote to Goodreads along with any notes you made about the highlighted passage.

Custom bookshelves

Goodreads comes with three basic bookshelves. Read, Currently Reading, and Want to Read. From a web browser you can add additional custom book shelves (no clue why this doesn't work in the apps). For instance, I started a book shelf to keep track of books I read to my daughter.

Compare Books

If you're looking for something new to read, comparing books with each of your friends who use Goodreads is another great browser-only feature. You can click on a friend in your friends list, see how many books you've both read and also see how similar your ratings are. I find that I have reading tastes that are very different from many of my friends, but when I find one with similar tastes, it's fun to browse their reading list to look for books I might want to read in the future.

Reading Challenge

After just starting to use Goodreads a couple years ago, I've started setting an annual reading challenge for myself. It's a good way to keep me motivated to read. If you're competitive, it's also a good way to see how many books friends are reading and challenge yourself to keep up.

There are a ton of other features that make Goodreads one of the apps I'm willing to invest time in, but these are the big ones. Some people right amazing reviews and analysis of books that can be both educational and entertaining.

If you use Goodreads, what are some of the things you find useful? If you don't use it, what do you use instead? Share your thoughts in the comments.