Track the Books You Have (and Want To) Read with Goodreads

Jim Henderson 05-05-2010

<firstimage=”//” />logo1Goodreads describes itself as the largest book social network for readers in the world. I can’t comment on the scale of the site, but it sure does a great job of tracking books, and like the best libraries, it’s both quiet and unobtrusive. Let me show you around.


We’ve talked about Goodreads on MakeUseOf before. It’s one of a list of virtual libraries 3 Inspiring Virtual Libraries for Avid Readers & Book Lovers Read More in a post from Bakari, and one of the four great ways to keep track of an expanding book collection according to TJ. I want to dig a little deeper, because in my next post I want to show you how to get information out of Goodreads for other purposes.

To start, there’s a thoroughly familiar and free sign-up process. Done? Good. Log in, and we can take a look around.

There are essentially two common tasks you’re going to want to undertake in here. Let’s just work through them.

Add Books You Own Or Have Read

Depending on your needs, and likely your personality type, you may or may not want to trawl through your bookshelves at home and add all the books you already have. Or you might just want to start from where you are now. I’m a mixture. I have added books around the home, but increasingly now I’m reading some books electronically, so there is no evidence in the shelves. I add them anyway.

I have something of an interest in vampires and werewolves. I’ve been around long enough to remember the genre before it became trendy, but that’s another story.


How about we go through and add a vampire book?  Richard Matheson’s I am Legend for example.

book social network

First, you need to search for the book, click the button, and find it in the list returned.

book social network


As you can see, GoodReads has a comprehensive set of books. Fortunately for us we want the first one in the list.

book social networkClick the add to my books button, ignoring the other options for now, and you’ll land on a page where you can take some more comprehensive action.

Firstly, you can assign a rating. I’d give this a three”¦

Then you can complete the review and date sections if you wish.


add block

Before we go further though, I’d like to talk about the shelves.

shelf list

When you first start using Goodreads, the only shelves to put your books on are read, currently-reading and to-read, and these shelves are exclusive. That is, each book can only be on one shelf at any one time. You’re read it, you are reading it, or you plan to read it.


You can add more shelves, and they are not exclusive. That is, this book can be listed under both vampires and horror, if that is appropriate.

For now, click on read. Click close, and save. Does this ongoing lack of upper-case letters drive you nuts? Oh, it’s just me? Oh.


Locate the my books link at the top of the page, click that, and we can take a look as some of the options.

mybookslist briefDown the left side of the page is a list of your books. If you’ve just started then the only book listed will be the one you just added. The books are totalled on the basis of the shelves they are on, and you can click on the shelf title to filter to just those books.

As you can see, I’m not very good at classifying my books. I’ll get there.

At the top of the list is an edit option for the shelves. If you want to do some heavy shelf construction this is the spot.

The main part of the page lists all your books, or the filtered list if you’ve clicked on one of the shelf titles.

You can edit the details for each book at any time.

Add Books You Haven’t Read

This should be easy, right?

I use Goodreads as my main way to track the books I need to buy or borrow, because without some help I’m prone to picking up a book and getting fifty pages in before realising that I’ve read it before. That’s just me too, right?

Goodreads does a great job of finding books that you might like to waste some time with, but in this case a good friend has told me that I need to read a book called The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which may or may not be good advice. It’s a story about Dracula, so the chances are good.

First, do a search, and find the book.



We are in luck again. The book we want is the first on the list. Click the add to my books button again.


In my case, I want to tag it as a book to read, and also tick the library shelf I created, so I know to look for it next time I’m cruising the real shelves in town.

On that subject, my next post is about how to take this booklist out of Goodreads and take it to the library with you. More on that soon. In the meantime, don’t you need to work your way through the living room shelves?

So, any questions? Thoughts on how else this might be used? Anyone have some cross-over interests, uses Goodreads, and would like to compare lists? Put it all in the comments below.

Related topics: Ebooks, Reading.

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  1. Cassandra lee
    September 6, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    I wonder why I never seen this page before ,you see why this was not fair, and now you want me to see how you two flirted with each other and I guess you are owes some respect for that both of you,it's ok his has this trust me

  2. Angela Alcorn
    May 7, 2010 at 6:06 am

    I'm addicted to Goodreads. :D

    • Jim Henderson
      May 7, 2010 at 7:58 am

      You are one of the chosen. :-)

  3. Anonymous
    May 7, 2010 at 1:05 am

    You can import your books from Library Thing

    • Jim Henderson
      May 7, 2010 at 5:42 am

      Anything to save effort...

  4. groovyspecs
    May 6, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Your friend sounds incredibly resourceful! I would never have thought of that.
    Unfortunately it won't work on all the ebooks I've collected since switching to an ereader.

  5. groovyspecs
    May 6, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Your friend sounds incredibly resourceful! I would never have thought of that.
    Unfortunately it won't work on all the ebooks I've collected since switching to an ereader.

    • Jim Henderson
      May 7, 2010 at 5:41 am

      You should be able to export a file list or something from your ereader? I'm out of my depth now. I use a Windows Mobile device for reading, so I'm not up with the play.

  6. Jim Henderson
    May 6, 2010 at 9:16 am
  7. differentperspective
    May 6, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Ah, fresh blood! :-)

    Something else to check out!

  8. Jim Henderson
    May 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Thanks Alex. A number of our other articles talk about LibraryThing. The limitation on the number of books for free members can be something of a pain, but it's seriously capable, agreed.

    • Alex Wise
      May 6, 2010 at 9:33 am

      No worries. Good Read seems a more developed website but just thought I'd put Library Thing out there. :)

  9. Guest
    May 6, 2010 at 7:45 am

    How does good reads compare to Shelfari?

  10. groovyspecs
    May 6, 2010 at 7:21 am

    I like the idea of cataloguing my books, but find the initial set up and subsequent maintenance to be too time consuming, so never do a proper job :(

    • Jim Henderson
      May 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

      I have a friend at work who feels the same. In the end he bought a barcode scanner, and attacked his books that way. It's an option, though it restricts your site options quite a lot.

  11. Karen
    May 6, 2010 at 7:00 am

    I find BookArmy is also a brilliant site to keep track of my books I've read and want to read.

    • Jim Henderson
      May 6, 2010 at 9:14 am

      Ah, fresh blood! :-)

      Something else to check out!

  12. Aibek
    May 6, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Another vote for LibraryThing here!

    Although I wish it had a better UI.

  13. Alize
    May 5, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Yeah, the social side of Goodreads is amazing, and I love the UI. However, LibraryThing is actually the largest, and it functions better (IMO). They are different, though. Goodreads focuses more on actual reading, while LT focuses more on cataloging.

    • Aibek
      May 6, 2010 at 6:14 am

      Another vote for LibraryThing here!

      Although I wish it had a better UI.

      • Jim Henderson
        May 6, 2010 at 9:14 am

        I think that was put me off in the first place...

    • Jim Henderson
      May 6, 2010 at 9:13 am

      Yeah, and that's a valid trade-off, I think.

  14. Alex Wise
    May 6, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Another site your readers might be interested is Library Thing I'm not affiliated with the website but have been using it for around a month and have been most impressed.

    • Cassandra lee
      September 6, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      I just can't believe you all that was my boyfriend of course I went crazy because this .and he couldn't help me no one just the show girl with bad behavior but no one says anything,do you think the judge let's murdered get away free because they know the AR' s no it's favoritism for appreciated favors and manipulating ways it has and thinks,that's how it tricked you