Use Goodreads to maintain your reading habit

Reading makes you a better writer. That’s a statement that writers know to be truth.

The problem isn’t with the knowing. It’s the doing. A reading habit can be hard to maintain when your goal is to finish a manuscript. Not only do you love the craft of writing, but you also enjoy the thought of getting to the last page and taking the next steps towards publishing your book.

At the same time, you know that reading literature that is excellent, thought-provoking, and even outside of your genre can only improve your writing life. What’s a writer to do?

You can add “Go to the library” to your to-do list. Call your friends and ask to borrow their books. Make a list of their recommendations and do some purchasing at your local bookstore or through an online store.

Or join Goodreads and ask 8,000,000 people what they think you should read.

Goodreads is a website for book lovers. The site has been around since 2007 and lists books, readers, author specs, book recommendations, ratings, and reviews in a huge library. You can see what your friends are reading, they can see what you’re reading, and all of you can see what the world is reading.

Plus, it’s a fun way to keep up with your reading habit. I love the look of the site; it’s a wall of books with a pleasing tan and linen background that makes you want to stay awhile.

After signing up, you can

  • add to “Your Books” all the books you’ve read, books that you’re reading, and books that you’d like to read
  • create bookshelves that categorize your books
  • make and ask for recommendations
  • write book reviews
  • post your own writing
  • join the author program

Goodreads also recommends books for you based on your reading history. The site has links to books that help you find them at an online bookseller or your local library. There are other features offered (trivia, book clubs, discussion groups) that make this a vibrant online community. Be careful:  Goodreads could become another place that keeps you from your writing. I joined this week and

Don't worry: I'm reading three right now, so I'm on target!

The feature that I’m loving is the Reading Challenge, which will help me maintain my reading habit. Goodreads provides a widget that tallies my finished books and is a visual reminder of my challenge to read. I plan to read at least one book per month this year, both fiction and nonfiction.

You will also find advertisements for books on your sidebar, which can be annoying — unless you look at it as a writing tool. For example, you may see a book synopsis. The Testament of Jessie Lamb is being hawked on my Goodreads homepage today. Here’s the synopsis: A rogue virus that kills pregnant women has been let loose in the world…and a 16-year-old girl will have to decide whether to make the ultimate sacrifice. That got my attention, and it also got me thinking about how to write the synopsis for my novel.

Another use for all those advertisements is as a tabs keeper on the book publishing industry. Take note of the topics and storylines a publisher favors. Book covers are a good study in themselves, so pay attention to them as they pop up on your page. Have you ever given thought to the cover of your novel?

There is much more to find on Goodreads, so be sure to check it out here. If you’re serious about writing, you must keep one hand on the pen and the other on the page of a book. Use Goodreads to help keep up your all-important reading habit.

Note: I’m not an affiliate for Goodreads. I just think it’s a useful tool for writers and want to spread the word. Please see my Disclosure Policy for more information about payments for writing.

Are you a Goodreads user? What do you like best about the site?


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10 thoughts on “Use Goodreads to maintain your reading habit

  1. I am a Goodreads fan too! Last year I got a bit caught up in reading enough books to complete my challenge (I knew it was out of control when I put down a lit journal because I didn’t think I could count it towards my Goodreads tally – ha!) Now I use it to keep track of everything I’m reading, and stay in the loop on the things my friends have read (and liked). Great post!

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    1. Hi, Carrie — thanks for visiting. Goodreads is an addictive little site, isn’t it? I spent time today entering more books as I cleaned out my closet. Most of my library is nonfiction and classics; I haven’t found much contemporary fiction to my liking. I’m hoping that Goodreads will help with that.

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  2. I’m not a regular visitor to Goodreads, although I do enjoy the site. I like the idea of that reading challenge widget, because I like visual challenges to keep me on target.

    It is a great place to find recommended books–whereas before I’d go to Amazon to read reviews.

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    1. I also love that it’s giving me a reason to pull out the books I’ve stored away. I’ll be taking time during this three-day weekend to start adding them to my Goodreads “Books I’ve Read” list. I’ll enjoy doing that as I revisit my old friends.

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  3. OK guys, I joined. I added both of you as friends (hope you don’t mind). Now my challenge will be to continue to actually read, and not spend too much time on GoodReads!

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    1. Welcome to the club! My challenge is to input all the books I have here in my home library as well as the books I’ve read in the past. Then, of course, I have to rate and review. And create bookshelves. And visit my friends’ shelves. And … and…

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  4. Cool site. I may check it out. I also have a goal to read at least one book a month this year. I’m monitoring my progress the old-fashioned way. In Jan I listed 12 books on an index card that I keep on my desk and I’ve been checking off the books as I read them. Then I usually read Amazon reviews to get my sense of “community”. But GoodReads does sound like fun. Thanks for the tip.

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  5. I love goodreads! I joined this year mainly to participate in the 2012 challenge, but its quickly turned into one of my favorite websites. The community is great and the recommendations for new books to read are all just fantastic. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the thumbs-up on this site, C.B. They’ve really done a great job with it. I’ve just started adding my books and ratings and know that Goodreads will become one of my writing “break time” sites to visit.

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