Friday 14 March 2014

Good Reads

Have you ever wanted a record of your library or the books you have read and/or borrowed? Do you like perusing book reviews? Are you looking for recommendations of new books to read from trusted sources? Do you like discussing your favourite books with others? Good Reads helps you do all this and more.

Now I know that many of the readers of this blog know and use Good Reads. In fact some of you know more than I do about this mega online book club. While I’m somewhat of a novice (I’ve been a member for less two years), I do use it regularly and have come to love many of its features.

Good Reads is an online social media for avid readers – a little like facebook . It has many great functions/features and can be useful for both readers and writers (or writers who are readers). It may take a little why to explore all it has to offer but I think that is time well spent.

Advantages for Readers

1. One of the primary features of Good Reads is to provide a record of the books you have read, are reading or want to read.

According to Good Reads, I’ve read 381 books – actually this is only a fraction of the books I’ve read over my life but I have added many of the classics and my all time favourites – and pretty much everything I’ve read in the last year or so. The best way is add books is as you start to read them. However, you can also add books you've already read.

As you add them you can record information about the books, sort them on your own designated shelves, rate them, review them and even send on recommendations to friends. If your Good Reads account is linked to your Facebook Account, you can choose for this information may go on your FB wall.

Perhaps, if you are in the habit of lending out your precious book – you could make a note of who and when you've lent it and then when the book is returned on your record of that book in Good Reads .

Depending on your settings, your reading activity is visible to your friends or public, who can then like or comment on it. Overtime, if people may begin to follow your reviews if they find them helpful.

I’ve now aim to write at least a short review on every book I finish. This is also a way to promote my favourite authors – as other readers may decide on which books to read on the ratings and/or reviews of books.

I do wish Good Reads had a “not finished” button as there are books I’ve started reading and then decided I don’t have the time or inclination to finish. The only way I can see to remove the book from my “currently reading” list is to change it back to “want-to read” OR to delete it entirely.

Books can be given between 1 to 5 stars. However, I wish we could also award ½ stars.

I also wonder if there is a way of backing up one’s database of books. What happens if Good Reads suddenly goes out of business and my carefully curated and review lists suddenly cease to exist? Good Reads can (and has) removed reviews and lists that contravene their guidelines.

2. Another feature is that you can sort your books in shelves, lists etc.

I’ve started up a range of shelves that categorise my books (e.g. fiction/non-fiction; Christian; children/YA/adult; historical, spec fiction, biography etc). Maybe I could add an “owned” or “lent-out” shelves as well.

There are also shared public lists – Listopia – such as “What Every Teen Should Read”  or “Books by Australasian Christian Authors” . Good Reads participants can add books or vote for books on these lists or make their own lists in which others can add to or vote. For instance, I started a list Books about Africa which you are welcome to add to.

If you are not sure what to read next, Good Reads is an excellent way of finding new titles to read. You can look up lists like Young Adult Fantasy or Clean Romances, read reviews, ask a members of  a group you've joined or see what your friends are reading. Once you have written 20 reviews, Good Reads will make suggestions of books to read based on your past choices.

3. Other activities

You can also collect quotes from favourite authors, follow your favourite authors as fans, participate in challenges, quizzes or giveaways or join discussion groups on your favourite genre or interests. 

A news feed keeps you up to date with your friends’ activities.

A challenge I enjoyed last year was the 2013 reading challenge - I set myself a challenge to read 40 books - in the end I read 46 so this year I'm aiming for 50.

Advantages for Authors

Good Reads was primarily set up as an online group of readers but it also offer opportunities to authors – that is those with published books (whether self-published, indie or traditional publishing). After all, Good Reads is populated with keen readers - just the people authors want to reach.

Authors can convert their user profile to an Author’s profile that can include a bio, photo, a list of published works, blogs, videos etc.

Readers can become followers or fans of authors. Writers can offer promos to readers or announce release dates, book launches, giveaways etc. Make sure you are aware of the Good Reads Author policy.

Also, Authors have an opportunity to interact with readers through groups though the temptation to over-promote needs to be resisted. As with most promotion, you need to interact and support others, building community and connections. So the best thing as a Good Reads author is also to be a reader, write reviews and participate in groups while being restrained in self-promotion opportunities. While this may seem slow, in the long run it will much more fruitful.

There is not much opportunity for aspiring (not yet published) authors to set up a presence in Good Reads except as a Reader. Still, being an active participant of the Good Reads community will surely stand one in good stead once a book ready to be released.

Good Reads provides a useful and enjoyable resource for both Readers and Authors. Unlike some forms of social media, you can have a significant presence without spending screeds of time online – and the more books and reviews you add, the more significant your presence.

While it may not suit everyone, I think Good Read provides a valuable way to promote Australasian Christian Fiction both as readers and writers.

So do you use Good Reads? What features do you like best about it? Are there things you are not so keen on? Are there some tips you would like to share? Or, as a novice, are there some burning questions you would like to ask?

Some Links:

Joining Good Reads

For Writers

 Jeanette O’Hagan
Jeanette has practiced medicine, studied communication, history and theology and has taught theology.  She is currently caring for her  children, enjoying post-graduate studies in writing at Swinburne University and writing her Akrad fantasy fiction series.  She is actively involved in a caring Christian community. You can find her at her Facebook Page or webiste .


  1. Excellent post, Jeanette. I mostly use Goodreads as a catalogue, but I also enjoy the challenges. This year I've challenged myself to read 200 books, including 50 off my To-Read Pile and 24 from new-to-me authors.

    1. HI Iola - I'm in awe of the number of books you read each year :) though I guess I do add writing a book or two each year and studies to the mix. I really appreciate having it as a catalogue of books I've read.

  2. I agree with Iola, I use it to keep track of what I have read and like you Jeanette will add a review. I got behind last year when I started to get sick so missed several books. I also love the challenge although this year I have lowered it to 20 books as I have finished one non fiction so far. I also put them into shelves.

    I am in several groups and the ones that interact reader and author work best. The promo groups I went to digest then turned of the emails. They are only promoting a blog or book and there is no real interaction.

    I dont really read reviews of other people there and dont mind if my review helped a friend.

    1. Hi Jenny. The good thing about the reading challenge is it's about our own goals :) I do find it an incentive to read.
      And I agree - just reading straight promos all the time is boring but having a group with good interaction between readers and authors work well. Are there any groups you would recommend?

    2. it does depend what you like to read. The ones I love are the love inspired historical groups and by a few of the authors like Janet Tronstad. I know the amish group is active as is the historical group. Narelle started one for Heartsong presents which will be good. But it depends on the genre you read etc. I am on some that are probably good but I turned of the notifications as they were not what I needed at that time.

    3. Hi Jeanette, Thanks for your excellent summary. I'm going to share this post with my Heartsong author friends :) I've mainly used Goodreads to keep track of the book reviews I've written on my blog. At the moment I'm learning all about Goodreads groups and I'm really enjoying the new Love Inspired Heartsong Presents group.

    4. Thanks Narelle :) Good to hear it's helpful. Good Reads also provides a code when you do reviews that can be added to your blog which I've been thinking about using - so it works the other way too. (eg

  3. Jeanette, you can also shelve a book you don't finish on 'Couldn't finish' or 'not going to read. ' That's what I have done. Just create a new shelf if you don't have it already there. I award half stars all the time. They may not show up in the stars but if people read the review it's right at the start that I gave a half star rating.
    I enjoy being on Goodreads. The only trouble is my books to read list is getting longer and longer. I like the interaction with other authors as well as readers. When I write a review I give my impressions of the book rather than a whole plot summary.

  4. HI Dale
    Thanks for two very good suggestions - about "couldn't finish" shelf & mentioning half stars in the review. Some books I access for study - and may only intend to read the parts relevant to what I want or need to know. I may never get back to them but they have still be useful.
    I know what you mean about the "to-read" list :) And I agree - a good review should be about what you thought about the book rather than a plot summary. Also, I think if at all possible it's better to avoid "spoilers" - giving away pivotal plot twists or the ending.

  5. I have a Couldn't Finish shelf, but often feel a bit sad to use it. With novels, it seems even worse than leaving a negative review, in a way. And then when GR suggests books based on that shelf, I think 'why would I want to read any more?'
    I do love Goodreads and have discovered many new and enjoyable books through others' reviews

    1. Hi Paula - That made me chuckle - GR suggestions based on your "Couldn't finish" shelf. So far, I've deleted the one's I couldn't finish. Sometimes it's not the fault of the book if its a non-fiction title - just my interests have moved on.

  6. Thanks Jeanette, a really practical post. I need to better understand how to use GR. I feel I need to spend some quality time on it. I hope it's search capabilities improve with Amazon buying it.

    1. Ian, you're right. Searching for a book can be tricky. Books can come up as multiple copies - sometimes because they've been entered more than once, and sometimes because there are multiple editions. The best way I find is using the ISBN if I'm recording what I'm reading. I think the searching algorithms could be improved. But apart from that, I've found it a wonderful resource.

  7. Fabulous post, Jeanette. I loved learning more about Good Reads. I must confess I rarely visit. I feel better equipped now that I've read your take on it. Thanks for sharing. :)

  8. Thanks Dotti. I'm glad it has been helpful. Look forward to seeing you on Good Reads :)

  9. A great explanation of Good Reads. It's a very useful and practical concept, isn't it? I'm terrible at keeping up with all the books I've read though - that'll be my goal this year, to record them all. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Hi Andrea - that's a great goal :)


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