By February 25, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Goodreads Updates

For those of you, who like me, maintain a free account there, recent upgrades at the Goodreads reading social networking site are worth noting. If you’re not tracking your reading with Goodreads, the new improvements might convince you to give it a try.

goodreads_icon1The Goodreads site, like Library Thing and Shelfari, allows one to create a personal account and save a list of books that one has read, that one would like to read, or that one is currently reading. Other tags can be applied to books to organize lists as one likes. One can also write and read reviews for any book, and on the whole, for situations where one wants to find several reader reviews of a work in one convenient place, I find that the quality and quantity of reviews of Goodreads has surpassed those on Amazon. One can connect with friends on Goodreads, just as one would do on Facebook, although here, the interaction is entirely about what friends are reading, reviewing, or interested in looking at in the future.

Changes to the user interface at Goodreads have created significant improvements (or perhaps made it easier to find some long-standing features). These are worth highlighting for book lovers, particularly those in book groups.

The first feature is an autofill option that will suggest the names of book or authors as you type. Like the feature that Google and Amazon users have grown to appreciate, this will often save keystrokes or help fill in the gap if one only remembers a partial title or author name.

Drop down menus have been added to “my books” and other tabs. On “my books,” if you have an account, try the “stats” option. This allows one to see how many books or pages one has read in each of the years one has been a user on Goodreads. With an extra click, one can also see which books those were.

Under the “Friends” tab, one of the options is a list of “popular books.” This feature will quickly show you which books are most frequently mentioned in your friends’ reading lists, and show you the average rating that your friends gave the most popular shared titles.

The “Explore” tab contains all kinds of goodies, but my favorites for book groups allow one to see which books have most frequently been listed as book group books by Goodreads users. To get to this list, click on the “Explore” drop down, then choose “genres,” which is the last option under “find books.” That produces a list of popular genres and other commonly used tags on the left side of the screen. “Book-club” is one of the options (for now, displaying about eight lines down in the third column). Clicking on this will provide a list of titles that have been given the “book group” tag by users most frequently. The Help tops the list currently, with Water for Elephants second and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society third. Continuing to scan down may help your group find a good option for a future meeting.

From that same page, a link on the right will take users to a similar list with a current spin. Look under “browse books” on the right and choose “popular bookclub books.” The resulting list will show you which titles have been most popular with Goodreads book clubs in the last week. Today when I checked, Emma Donoghue’s Room topped this list, followed by Chris Cleave’s Little Bee and Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone.

Finally, I will mention the Goodreads blog, which is a good place to look (after you’re done reading Booklist Online and Book Group Buzz of course!) for other news about books and the features on Goodreads. This kind of value-added content is improving the basic functionality of Goodreads and making it ever more valuable as a support tool for readers and their groups. Give it a whirl, and if you enjoy Book Group Buzz, by all means send me a friends request on Goodreads.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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