Let’s Get Lit-erary: Goodreads 101

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person reading interesting book in hands
Do you or someone you know love reading, however are struggling to find the next piece of literature to pick up? If so, then Goodreads may be your solution. Photo by Gary Barnes on Pexels.com

Anyone who loves to read has probably looked to Goodreads for guidance at some point in their lives. Goodreads is a platform where one can catalog and rate books, see what others are reading and find new books. It essentially serves as a social media site for readers. 

One of the largest components of Goodreads is its reviews. Readers can see a book’s overall rating, as well as award their own rating, from one to five stars. Readers are brutally honest, and some even develop a reputation for it, becoming a top reviewer.  

What’s so unique about reviews on Goodreads is that books are rated solely by their content, whereas retailers like Amazon and Target host reviews pertaining to the physical condition of a book. A book rated three stars on Amazon could very easily be a five-star read on Goodreads, making the latter my go-to source when gauging whether I want to commit to a book.  

Goodreads is a platform where one can catalog and rate books, see what others are reading and find new books. It essentially serves as a social media site for readers. Photo courtesy of Goodreads’ website.

Though Goodreads reviews are more reliable than ones from retailers, the system is not free from flaws. Often, books are made available to rate well before their release date, giving excited fans ample time to give stellar reviews to books they haven’t yet read. This results in misleading ratings, which may seem like no big deal, but are critical to the success of a novel.  

Poor ratings can seriously deter people from reading a book. I have been victim to this; why would I waste my time on anything less than a four-star book? Though this is a niche issue, it’s important to not let peer — or rather “reader” — pressure dictate what literature you consume. A life-changing novel for one person could be an unbearable read for another. 

“A life-changing novel for one person could be an unbearable read for another.”

Reviews aren’t the only thing that draw readers to Goodreads. A notable feature of the site is its yearly reading challenge. People can set goals for how many books they want to complete in a year — a New Year’s resolution of sorts. Over the year, you’ll be able to see how close you are to achieving your goal.  

With a platform like Goodreads, where you can add friends and see other people’s goals and progress, failing to meet your quota is not great for self-confidence. The Goodreads yearly challenge is a subject of debate on other forms of social media, such as BookTube. Some BookTubers promote it, some critique it and others, like Ariel Bisset, make videos predicting what the challenge color for the year will be.  

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In a previous edition of “Get Literary”, we explored the concept of BookTube and “BookTubers”, who are youtubers who base their content on literature reviews and literature based content. On Goodreads, you can add these Booktubers and see what kind of books they are reading if you are interested. Photo courtesy of marianaeguaras.

On top of adding friends, you can add BookTubers or Bookstagrammers on Goodreads. These people tend to have more influential reviews and it can be fun to see what books they’re reading. However, many people don’t bother with status updates. Goodreads has a fairly outdated interface, making it difficult to add books to a previous year’s challenge. 

This year, I’ve committed to recordkeeping via Goodreads and it’s proving to be a useful tool. If you keep up with it, it’s fairly easy to navigate and catalog your reads. You can indicate books you’ve read, want to read or are currently reading. Plus, you can update your progress by page number or percentage, the feature acting as a digital bookmark.  

Another handy feature is the Kindle Notes & Highlights section. You can link your Kindle account to Goodreads, which will create a compilation of lines you’ve highlighted. The site even has Reddit-style discussion boards, giveaways and their version of the Oscars — the Goodreads Choice Awards.  

There are plenty of tools on Goodreads, making it a comprehensive platform for readers of all kinds. Goodreads offers readers a virtual community, fostering discussion and debate. Like with any social media site, users can also develop issues with self-confidence and start to compare themselves to others. However, people generally don’t use Goodreads to stir up drama, simply documenting their journey as a reader instead. Ultimately, the site is an invaluable resource for readers in search of their next good read.  

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