What Are The Best Book Review Sites?

Dave Parrack 30-01-2013

book review sitesThere are many people who consider books as a dying art form, especially as physical objects. While I accept that books will one day be nothing more than words on a screen, stories will always live on. They’ve been with us for millennia – and written down for centuries – and they’ll outlive everybody reading this.


I’m an avid reader, getting through at least one book a week. I often have several on the go at once – usually a novel, a reference book, and an autobiography – which are consumed as and when the opportunity arises. I realized long ago that there are far more books out there than I could ever read in my lifetime, with hundreds of thousands more published each and every year.

This means choosing what to read is a big decision. Dedicate several weeks to War and Peace and you may have to forego reading Les Misérables. Decide to read every book from a certain author and you may have to miss out on several future classics by other, less well-known, authors. Sorting the wheat from the chaff is impossible without some help, which is why recommendations from other book lovers are crucial.

While friends and family are the obvious first choice, there are a host of book review sites The 10 Best Book Review Sites and Book Rating Sites Reading book reviews before you shop for one can save you from regrets. Here are the best book review sites you can check out. Read More on the Web dedicated to helping readers find the tome best suited to them. What follows are five of the best. They all offer similar features, but with a varying degree of success. In order to fairly and thoroughly test the book review sites, five books from different genres were chosen: The Hobbit, Life Of Pi, The Lincoln Lawyer, Angels and Demons, and James and The Giant Peach.


book review sites

Look & Feel: The homepage is a little busy and hard to navigate, with clunky drop-down menus. Things improve once you actually reach a particular book, with the layout making more sense.


Number Of Reviews: Three of the five test books are featured on the site, but the overall number of reviews isn’t made clear. A result of 60% for the sample titles suggests the site is lacking in this department.

Search: The search engine offers the bare minimum, with no advanced search options and no way of paring the results down. However, the results are fairly solid and well laid out.

Recommendation Engine: Each book has a ‘Readalikes‘ section, and there’s also a way of narrowing books down by different parameters. The results are sensible, offering similar books in the same genre or from authors with similar sensibilities.

Summing Up: BookBrowse is a good option, but it’s let down badly by the need to pay for a membership to unlock the best features.


Grade: C-


best book review sites

Look & Feel: Although it could do with a visual overhaul to bring it up to date, everything is in place and easy to navigate. Once you click on an individual title the number of options available to explore expands massively.

Number Of Reviews: All five of the test books are present and correct, with 78 million books listed overall.


Search: The search engine is simple, but with enough added features such as tags and ways of sorting the results to make it worth exploring.

Recommendation Engine: The ‘Zeitgest‘ section offers a comprehensive way of finding new books to read, and there are also a lot of recommendations (using various methods) listed under each book. The books suggested for further reading make a lot of sense in terms of genre and style.

Summing Up: The vast number of books coupled with the robust collection of data makes LibraryThing a worthy contender. Unfortunately a small fee is required for full integration.

Grade: B-



best book review sites

Look & Feel: Clean lines and a modern feel make this site one of the best looking on the list. Everything is easy to find, and you never feel overwhelmed by an abundance of information or external links.

Number Of Reviews: All five of the test books are present and correct, and though the total number of books isn’t listed, the number of users suggests there will be few gaps in the library.

Search: You can search the site by title, author, or ISBN number, which is the bare minimum a book review site should be offering. A way of narrowing the results further would be appreciated.

Recommendation Engine: Recommendations are based on the ratings you give to other books. It’s a system which works well, but it does require a little effort to start working. Once the recommendations kick in they’re eclectic but improve as you rate more titles. In a similar way to the movie recommendation sites Matching Movies To Your Mood: Do These Tools Work? There is something magical about movies. In the space of two hours a whole story is told from beginning to end. With a middle that hopefully leaves you feeling something, anything, for the characters and... Read More .

Summing Up: GoodReads is a strong contender with a huge community at its disposal. The site feels a little dry, but it does the job being asked of it extremely well. It’s completely free to use too.

Grade: A-


best book review sites

Look & Feel: A solid design sensibility shines through across the site, putting it on a par with GoodReads. Everything is based around book covers, which adds a nice visual element to proceedings.

Number Of Reviews: All five of the test books are present and correct, and though the total number of books isn’t listed, Amazon’s origins as a bookseller suggests there will be few gaps in the library.

Search: A startling number of advanced search options are available, such as narrowing by genre or binding, and setting the publication date parameters. This ensures even obscure titles should be easy to find.

Recommendation Engine: Recommendations are kept to a minimum by default, suggesting this isn’t the main focus of the site. However, there are sensible titles suggested for each book, so you can build out from your existing collection.

Summing Up: Shelfari is owned and powered by Amazon, but that’s mostly to its credit. It’s free, it’s comprehensive, and it’s extremely user friendly.

Grade: B+


book review sites

Look & Feel: The homepage is rather busy, with little to differentiate the various sections. The color scheme works, but the small icons and even smaller text make it something of a chore to navigate.

Number Of Reviews: All five of the test books are present and correct, but there is no data regarding the total number featured on the site. With user-submitted reviews being the order of the day I suspect it lags behind GoodReads and LibraryThing.

Search: There are both basic and advanced search options, which combined offer the best of both worlds. One nice touch is a snapshot of the book on an actual bookshelf, as uploaded to the site by a user.

Recommendation Engine: The only recommendations are via the discussions taking place around each title. Which is fairly limiting in terms of its ability to inform you what you may want to read next. This is the biggest weakness of the site.

Summing Up: BookRabbit is slightly different from the other sites on this list, which is both a blessing and a curse. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s definitely worth a look for those seeking in-depth reviews of popular titles.

Grade: C+


Having tested each site for an expended period of time, I rank them as follows:-

  1. GoodReads
  2. Shelfari
  3. LibraryThing
  4. BookRabbit
  5. BookBrowse

GoodReads wins out thanks to a strong user base, a huge database, and an overall look and feel which just edges out Shelfari and LibraryThing. BookRabbit will appeal to some but not all, while BookBrowse suffers mainly as a result of the need to pay membership fees.

My love of books is going nowhere, even if the method by which I read them has to evolve in the years to come. In the absence of infinite time to read everything we want to, book review sites that gather reviews and recommend titles that should not be missed are essential tools.

Let us know what you think of this article in the comments section below, or add your own book review site to the list.

Image Credit: Ian Wilson

Related topics: Book Reviews, Reading.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. P Salomon
    February 3, 2017 at 5:06 am

    How did you miss New York Journal of Books

  2. P Salomon
    February 3, 2017 at 5:04 am

    How did you miss New York Journal of Books?

  3. Reza Eskandari
    November 19, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Dear Dave
    I can not tell you how useful and comprehensive your article was. I really needed to find a book reviewing site except Goodreads and you helped me thoroughly.
    Thanks again
    Reza from Iran

  4. Charla
    October 10, 2016 at 10:22 am is another book review site. The reviews are meaty and well written.

  5. Srinithi
    May 22, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    I've found a blog called Vogue In Literature that has excellent reviews on books. It's free and does the job well.

  6. ranjeet
    April 16, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Online books shopping site

  7. Claude Nougat
    March 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I've used Goodreads for years, I'm a Librarian there and have just started a group discussing Boomer lit (growing fast too!) - so I guess I have to agree with you that Goodreads is the best of the lot, though I do like Shelfari, not so much to find books but because of the way it looks, very cool! But I don't really use Goodreads to search for books - more to discuss them and find like-minded spirits! For example, as happened with this Boomer lit business, which I consider a new genre and that observation resonated with lots of people (240 members in the group in just 4 months!) This is the sort of thing that can only happen on Goodreads...

  8. Raymond Chen
    January 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I went through a number of books - and found's website a much better site for reviews (number, quality, detail, informative commentary, etc.)

    Things may change in the future, and GR may be useful for non-commercially-available books, though that should be fairly rare.

  9. Erin Eymard
    January 30, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I am just getting into GoodReads and I definitely agree with you that it is the best site out there.

  10. Scott Macmillan
    January 30, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I prefer GoodReads as well.Its free and does the job well.

  11. Yamini Guptha
    January 30, 2013 at 10:13 am

    BookBrowse has wide range of variety that i require and i like it

  12. Jeremy Garnett
    January 30, 2013 at 4:04 am

    Thanks. Personally, I use GoodReads, though this is more to keep track of the books I read, rather than to find reviews.