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
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?