How I Use Goodreads

I’ve been using Goodreads to track my reading since before I was a really big reader. My mom was actually the first person to tell me about it, and it was before there was a social media app for everything so I remember thinking that a social media app for reading sounded weird. But I made an account like the good daughter that I am, and got to tracking!

My use of Goodreads has changed over the years (that’s one of the great things about it!), but I’ve heard a few people say recently that they’re not sure how to use it, so I thought I’d take some time to discuss my favorite features.

Shelves

This is probably the big one. Every book you “shelve” on goodreads must fall in to one of three categories: read, currently reading, or want to read. After that you can create as many shelves as you want. Common shelves that I’ve seen include: DNF (did not finish), genre-based shelves, rating-based shelves, year read based shelves.

Read

Primary Use: I use the Read shelf for two primary reasons: filtering by date read for wrap up posts (monthly, and annually) and filtering by rating for that time when someone asks what book they should read and they’ve already read all the amazing ones I can think of.

Tips and Tricks: You’re not limited to the categories listed for you. If you want to add or remove columns for sorting, click the settings link at the top of the page

Things that could be better: You can’t see how many books you’ve read in the current year on your read shelf without filtering by date and scrolling back to January. If you want a quick tally, start a reading challenge (the goal can be 0!) and it will then keep track of books you read in a calendar year. You also can’t sort by genre at all. This is why people make those shelves, but I wish it could be more automatic.

Currently Reading

Primary Use: To let someone (or just myself) know what I’m reading! Sometimes I’ll update this with my page number or % of progress through the book, but really that’s just if I’m bored and looking for something to click on

This one’s straightforward so no Tips/Tricks/Thing That Could Improve here!

Want to Read

Primary Use: This one has two purposes for me (which brings me to my Things That Could Be Better…). One is to catalog the books I own and one is to jot down books people recommend to me or I hear about and don’t want to forget!

Tips and Tricks: This is the only list that can be ordered! I use this all the time to arrange my TBR! (Again, mostly if I am bored and looking for something to click on — Goodreads is a great guilt free option for that!)

Things that could be better: There should be two lists – one for books I Want to Read and own, and one for books I want to read and don’t own. It’s important for me to keep the books I own in there so I don’t forget them, but then they get jumbled in with books I’ve heard about and the list just gets so long. Also my boyfriend/family always ask what books to get me and I wish I could point them to my Want to Read list, but then they’d more than likely buy me books I already own. This is probably my biggest pet peeve with the interface! (Goodreads, are you listening?!)

Self-Created Shelves

Primary Use: As I mentioned before this is for you to catalog anything that Goodreads won’t catalog for you. Genre, Author Ethnicity/Gender, Source (library, publisher, purchased), and Ratings are popular lists I’ve seen in the past. I currently only have two additional shelves: Unread Shelf- Fiction and Unread Shelf – Nonfiction. This is helping me with my issue with the Want to Read Shelf, and my goal of alternating fiction and nonfiction this year. When I’m going to choose my next book, I generally check these places depending on which side of the fiction/nonfiction coin I’m on.

Things that could be better: One thing that drives me nuts about these shelves is that you can’t rank them, like you can your Want to Read shelf. Since I use them as a second source of TBR I’d love to put them in order (just me? k.). It also took me the longest time to figure out how to delete one that I had made. I’ll tell you how. Under “My Books” and adjacent to the word “Bookshelves” (above your list of shelves) there’s a link that says “(edit shelves)” and that’s where you do it! Since it was pretty far away from the create your own shelves list, I had the hardest time finding it at first.

Ratings

Ratings on Goodreads are huge in the publishing industry. When I went to the San Diego Festival of Books, author Michelle Gable mentioned that one of the ways she mentors new authors is by reviewing their books on Goodreads. She and the other authors also said they live for the 4 and 5 star reviews on their titles as well. Truthfully, I’m not very consistent when it comes to posting my reviews to Goodreads, but I so commend anyone who does. However, I am pretty diligent about leaving a rating and a few words.

When I go to Goodreads, I mostly look for the synopsis and the ratings, and since I hate spoilers, I won’t read any reviews until after I finish the book.

Newsletter

I may be one of few, but I love the Goodreads monthly newsletter! It keeps me up to date on books coming out that month and has a specific section for books coming out by authors you’ve read. I also find the interviews and blog posts they include are pretty enjoyable too. I’m really not a newsletter person but this one works for me!

Friendship

And let’s not forget the social networking side of this interface. I love seeing what my friends are reading (if you couldn’t already tell that from my blog)! Since I live in California and most of my friends are from the East Coast, one way we stay in touch is by following each other on Goodreads. I love getting a text from a friend I haven’t talked to in a while saying “I saw what you’re reading in Goodreads, what do you think?!”

I’d say most of the conversations that are started from Goodreads take place over text, which probably isn’t what the creators of the platform want, but for me it works, and each of those texts brings me so much joy and connection.

You don’t have to use all the features

Among the things I don’t use are Lists, Browse, and Discovery tools. The only way I’m discovering books on Goodreads is if a trusted friend of mine gives it a five star rating. I totally support you finding books on Goodreads if you’re enjoying that, but I have found the recs don’t totally work for me. I have a ton of other sources for finding books I like (I wrote about that here).

A coworker recently told me that he doesn’t use Goodreads because he tried and it recommended too many books to him. My only thought was “try it again! You don’t have to lean in to the recs!”

So basically, I’m here to say that this platform is far from perfect and far from being what everyone needs, but I find it to be pretty easy to use and a great way for me to track my books and interact with friends. I hope you can find a way to use Goodreads to improve your reading habits, or just have another thing to click through that brings you joy. 🙂

 

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Where I’ve Been

Hello my lovely readers,

I have been pretty absent on the blog for a while now. While I was keeping up with some posts and reviews in September/October, they were getting shorter, less heartfelt, and less consistent as the days went on. I finally decided to take a break until I wanted to write again, because producing bad content was worse than producing no content, in my mind.

I’ve spent the last six weeks or so working on myself, and I wanted to share a bit of that with you by way of a catch up. I have a ton of bookish posts in my mind for you, so keep an eye out for that as I work back towards a more regular posting schedule.

So here’s what I’ve been up to:

I doubled down on my job.

20181101_164456-01I’ve had a rocky year with work. For the first three months, I was absolutely miserable at my job, and luckily was able to find a new one. As this was only my second job out of school, no surprise here, that transition was hard. To make things worse, less than two months in to my new job, I found out I had to take two licensing exams within, effectively, two months. I studied for them, but honestly, I didn’t give my all to the test or my job during that time. I ended up failing the first test, and decided not to take the second because I wasn’t prepared for it. By the time all of that was over, I realized I hadn’t given my work my full attention in a very long time.

I want to succeed in my professional life, so I decided to commit to that. One of the best things I did was buy an Erin Condren Life Planner JUST for work. It makes so much sense to me now that I would need this, but so often we use planners for school work or personal life things and not for work. Buying a planner for work, setting daily goals, and achieving them has been huge for me. I’m working hard, feeling successful, and if I do say so myself, impressing myself for the first time in a long time.

I started Meal Prepping.

If you’re like me, you want to eat healthy. I’ve always struggled with eating healthy — I find it so weird that feeding ourselves is one of our biggest struggles as humans, but I’ve decided it’s relatively universal because think about how many services there are out there to help people feed themselves. I’ve been super anti formal “meal plans” for a long time, but somehow fate brought the Workweek Lunch Meal Prep Program and I together. (To be clear WWL is not a diet program and is sooo customizable/flexible so that’s a huge reason I decided to go for it!)

By fate, I mean the instagram algorithm. I was following WWL hoping it would inspire me to start eating the way she did, and a couple weeks in to following Talia, she started her Meal Prep Program. It’s only $8 per month so I put it on my personal card (aka I didn’t ask my boyfriend to pay for it) and got started. It’s an investment at first (I spent about $60 on meal prep containers from costco) and a learning curve (my first prep took me over 3 hours and most things tasted bad), but four (?) months later, I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve become more comfortable in the kitchen, I look forward to cooking every week, I save so much time and so much money, and I finally am able to eat the way I’ve always wanted to eat – healthy meals that make me feel full without feeling bloated. If you’re at all interested, feel free to ask me any questions, or just try Workweek Lunch for yourself

I participated in the Transformation Challenge at my Orangetheory Fitness Studio.

The basic rules are work out 3x per week for six weeks (I  did this!), weigh in at the beginning, middle, and end (I  missed the middle weigh-in), and then do some other challenges (I didn’t do any of these). As you can tell I’m not going to win. I violated 2 of the 3 rules, but the one that I did stick to is, in my opinion, the one that matters.

Three times a week may not seem like that much, but trust me it was surprisingly challenging. There was a time when I was going away for the weekend and went to a 6:50 – 7:50 pm class on Thursday night and was back at the studio for my third class of the week at 6:10 am the following morning. To that end, I attended my first (ever?) 6:10 am gym class. And not only that I attended MANY of them throughout the challenge. I got back in a routine and it felt really good. It may not sound like much but I’m extremely proud of myself for doing 3 classes per week for 6 weeks, and as an added bonus and I can totally feel the difference in my strength levels and the way my clothes fit. Horray!

I got braces.

This is the big one in terms of my mental health over the past month or so. Braces are something I’ve been thinking about for a long time — probably since I moved back from New Zealand, so 3 years ago! I never felt secure enough in my life to take the plunge until recently. I now know that I will be staying in San Diego for long enough to have the treatment, I’m at a new job where people know me, have friendships that I feel secure enough in, and am in a relationship I feel comfortable in (I should hope so haha It’s been 4 years!).

These things may sound vain, but getting braces has really rocked my confidence and I don’t think I’d be able to do it if I knew I had to make new friends or interview for a new job in the near future. I felt like I was at a comfortable place in my life to take the plunge and change my appearance for a year and a half for the greater good of the rest of my life. (I’ll be 30 1/2 when I get them off!) All that being said, it’s been incredibly difficult – physically and mentally – over the past week, but I think I’m starting to come around on the other side of it now.

So that’s it. That’s where I’ve been for the last six weeks – exercising, eating well, getting braces, and working hard at work. And all of that hasn’t allowed for a lot of time or energy to write passionately, consistently, and meaningfully about books on this page. But that’s something I want to change. And as I’m settling in to these new routines, I’d like to start again with this blog. So I hope you’ll keep reading! Thank you for being here!