Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Techy Tuesday: Good Reads

This week I am bringing you a website review :)   For a while, I used to be a member of Shelfari - referred there by a librarian friend who was an active member, her passion for the site did little to ignite my own.  Of course, I didn't have this little blog back then, but I didn't really want to participate in the "fun" groups or clubs and adding my own books and connecting with friends there didn't really do it for me.  When I quit Facebook - I also quit Shelfari.
A few weeks ago, I finally clued in that many of the bookseller websites that I would occasionally submit reviews to were also pulling reviews from a site called Good Reads. 

I figured it was probably just another Shelfari, but thought it might actually work better for me if I could find a bookish website that would allow me to submit reviews to several sites simultaneously AND connect with other readers for recommendations.   This seemed to fit the bill.  As a bonus, they had widgets so I could automate my own blog to keep my reading list up to date.   (If you look on my "Read" page, you'll see what I mean.  Those little widgets update automatically as I add/finish books).   I still intended to post my reviews on my own blog first, but this gives me a place to move them over to for a wider audience.

Unlike Shelfari, I don't feel the push to participate in the clubs.  They have similar groups on Good Reads, but it is managed in a much gentler way.   With Good Reads, I just feel like I have a place to track books and manage what I plan to read next.  One feature I do really like, though, is the ability to just comment on a book (or on another member's comments about that book).  It makes it less of a forum and more like commenting on someone's Facebook photos.  The homepage features feeds of what your "friends" are doing and there is also a secondary tab for discussions on books you have read and groups that you follow.  

The simple interface and easy controls make this site a pleasure to play on.   I did find myself ambitiously setting up a personal challenge for myself to read X number of books in 2011.  They made it too easy by putting it on the homepage :P 
While there is a social networking component to the site - you don't actually NEED to request friends.  You can simply follow users if you'd prefer. There are also a number of authors signed up who you can also follow and interact with.

Add to this the section of free ebooks (mostly classics and amateur fiction), giveaways, lists, and a bookswap (US only, unfortunately) and Good Reads is a decent little reading community.

This review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the one thing that I feel is missing from the site.   This would be the ability to compare books with other members to see what members are most like you.  Shelfari has this functionality and I get the impression that Good Reads would like it (they actually list the development of such a feature as a "problem to solve" in their careers section).  So, maybe in time this will be added (I hope).   Though, really, I'm not a member there to necessarily connect with strangers.   I'd rather connect with my own friends to see what we're all reading.  The only time a feature like this would be handy is when I am seeing book recommendations and can see what similar readers liked.

If you are a reader and are looking for a fun way to track your reading and manage your reviews - give Good Reads a try.   Feel free to look me up over there at http://www.goodreads.com/khourianya

Happy reading!

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