How to Use Goodreads: A Guide for Word Nerds

How to Use Goodreads-A Guide for WordI know: you have enough trouble limiting the minutes you spend on Pinterest.  You don’t need another social media site to suck away your precious time.

But trust me, Goodreads is a must for anyone who loves books.  Don’t believe me?  I’ve got seven great reasons why you should start up a Goodreads account.


Keep track of your books

Most readers I know like to keep a record of all the books they’ve read.  Kinda like a word nerd trophy case.  It also helps us remember what titles we’ve read and whether or not we liked them.

goodreads read shelfOn Goodreads, you can enter the books you’ve read, rate them, and post reviews.  This will initially consume some time, but after you have your library in, occasionally adding new book will only take seconds.  You can sort the books onto different shelves such as “read,” “to read,” and “favorites.”

You can quickly add books by scanning them in with your smart phone.  I explain the Goodreads app scanning process here.

Admittedly, this feature appeals most to word nerds of the “type A persuasion” who like to keep everything organized.  Like me. 😉

Find books to read

For any book out there, Goodreads provides a synopsis, reader reviews, and an average rating.  Goodreads also makes recommendations for you, based on the books on your shelves as well as what’s popular on the site.

When you see a title that looks interesting, simply click the “want to read” button, and Goodreads will add it to your “to read” shelf.  Never again will you scratch your scalp and say, “Now, what was the name of that book…?”

Every year, Goodreads hosts a massive poll for favorite books of the year.  Over one million readers voted in 2012.  For great reading ideas, see the winners of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards.  Winning titles from twenty categories include The Fault in Our Stars, Gone Girl, and Insurgent.

Discuss Books

What’s better than reading a book?  Talking about it!  Hundreds of book clubs have organized Photo1 (1)themselves on Goodreads.  Do you like young adult?  There are over 750 groups you could join.  How about historical fiction?  Plenty of that too.  Join an existing group, help choose books, and participate in a discussion about what you’ve read.

Better yet, start your own club and invite friends to join.  Last year some of my writing buddies started a group, and we used it to discuss books on the writing craft.  We live scattered around the world- in Pennsylvania, England, even Hawaii, but we could “meet” and learn from each other via Goodreads.

Learn about the book world

With author Q & A meetings, interviews, and up to date information on new releases, Goodreads gives you insight into the book world.  You can get email notifications of upcoming events based on the books you’ve added to your on-line library.

A few months ago, I got to submit a question for an interview with John Green!  I can’t wait until Goodreads publishes the conversation.

Help authors

For better or worse, the publishing world is changing, and authors now bear more burden for promoting books.  By taking the time to rate a book a write a quick (we’re talking three sentence) review, you can help bring attention to a title.  And therefore help a writer.  Trust me, they will appreciate it!


I don’t pay much attention to this feature of Goodreads.  It’s fun to connect with people you know or who are in your “book clubs.”  But you’ll also get friend requests from random people on Goodreads.  Your friends’ activity shows up on your home page, so this can sometimes help you find books to read.

chamber of secretsQuotes

A fun bonus- you can save your favorite quotes from literature and sign up to receive quotes via email each day.  One of my favorites:

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.  J.K. Rowling

How do you use Goodreads?  Are there any features I skipped?

Thanks for stopping by!




Julia Tomiak
I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and


    1. Good question. I could find trivia, quizzes, giveaways, and author interviews, but no discussion guides. I Google reading guides before my book club meetings and can usually find 2-3 sites with helpful discussion starters and questions.

  1. Okay so I’m using an Android phone and have downloaded the app and added few books too, but the problelm arises when I’m not able to read them. How do I read the book on the mobile??

    1. You don’t use Goodreads to actually read books; you use it to keep track of books you’ve read or ones you want to read. To actually read the books, you’ll need an app like the Kindle app that can display ebooks.

  2. Why haven’t I noticed this on your sidebar before? I am sending it off to my non-bloggy friends who I keep encouraging to use good reads.
    I like to do the trivia questions when I can’t sleep. But I never seem to be able to remember enough to write any myself!

  3. How do you RSVP to an event?
    My bookclub has a group and we create events but I can’t respond on my Iphone it has to be on a desktop.

    1. Deanna, Great question! I fiddled around on my Goodreads iPhone app and couldn’t find a way to RSVP either. I’m on vacation now but I’ll look into this more next week. Thanks for bringing this up.

  4. I need to friend you on Goodreads b/c I’m sure you have awesome book ideas for me! I do like Goodreads, I just need to be more faithful about recording the books I read – I really do like to keep a record. Happy new year, word nerd! Keep on inspiring me, please 🙂

  5. I am totally a word nerd of the “type A persuasion” too! And I love Goodreads! 🙂 You even mentioned some features I haven’t used before – I’ll have to go check them out.

  6. Thanks for this great post. I had heard of Good Reads, but never checked it out. Think this will be a fun way to keep track of my reading. Thanks again! Great job!

  7. Julia,
    This is a timely post for me since I spent part of my holiday entering in all my wish list books and exploring Good Reads for the first time. I felt quite nerdy doing it but I loved it! Thank you for summarizing the features there since I am still learning how best to use it. Love it that there are others out there whiling (isn’t that a word?) away time looking at words.

    1. Whiling is definitely a word in this internet browsing age! Use it with pride. I’m also happy to think of so many spending time with words and books. Glad you found the info helpful.

  8. Julia, your post reminded me to go update some of my recent reads on Goodreads. I like listing the books I’ve written (although mine is an incomplete list, as it’s my 2nd Goodreads account and it took too long to re-enter my original list) — but I’ve never taken time to write reviews. I do like seeing friends show up on my friends list. That was an unexpected benefit. Thanks for your post.

  9. I’ve been a member of Goodreads for some years now. I thought you did a great job on how to make the best of it. I love GR because, as you say, it is where I catalogue books I’ve read. I also link reviews I’ve written to my blog. You’ve done a great job with your website. (I signed up, too.)

    1. Welcome Sarah and thanks for the compliments. So glad you enjoy my site, and I look forward to discussing more word nerdy topics with you! I like your idea of not only citing bits of blog book reviews but also linking to the my blog. Another great addition to this conversation.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Thanks for the tutorial, Julia. I love Goodreads but haven’t had time to do much with it. It’s so much fun to connect and see what your friends are reading!

  11. I love GoodReads! One awesome, possibly little-known feature is the Amazon Bookmarklet (in “My Account” under the Widgets tab). You can add the button to your browser’s bookmark bar, and when you see a book you’re interested in on Amazon, click it and *Poof!* it’s added to your GoodReads shelf.

    Their Android app has another feature I love. You can turn your phone’s camera into an ISBN scanner to add physical books to your shelves. This is great for cutting down on the upfront time investment you mentioned, if you know about it before you’ve entered all your books manually, that is. (I assume the iPhone app probably has this feature too, but I’ve only used the Android version!)

    Great write-up! 🙂

    1. Brandy, Welcome and thanks for adding two more great tips to this post. I didn’t know about the Amazon Bookmarklet and was actually wondering about a way to connect the two sites. This is great information!

      Also, thanks for mentioning the scan. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, I can see the icon for it right in my mobile GR app. I will use this to add to my “books I own” shelf and submit a follow up report.
      Thanks so much again for adding pertinent info to this discussion.

  12. I so needed this post. I keep track of books I’ve read on Good Reads (although I’ve been slacking in the past few months!). Other than that though, I haven’t explored any of the other features. Thanks for the great “How To”.

  13. I just recently started posting parts of book reviews I’ve written for my site to my Goodreads. I’m so impressed with the way GR lets readers connect with favorite authors; I’ve connected with a few and one of my favorite things about it is that a few of them actually send me book recommendations … My favorite authors actually suggesting what I should read, and it’s NOT just their work?! I am overjoyed.

    I’m with Debbie, this is a great post on Goodreads, and a very helpful guide on how to use it!!

    1. Thank you Khara- and great idea to use snippets from blog reviews to post in GR. Adding that to the “To Do” list. How cool that you have connected with authors- can you share how this happened? It would be my dream for authors to recommend to me…

  14. I’m a member of Goodreads, but I haven’t actually made use of it yet. Like you mentioned, I’m afraid it will consume me! But I’m thinking that I’ll need to dive in sooner or later. I may direct my blog readers to this post sometime soon. It’s a great summary!


    1. Thanks Debbie. A comment below has a great tip for saving time- scan your books in! You can do it with an app for Android or iPhone. If you look at my screen shot at the top of the post, you can see the icon for the scan function. I hope this will encourage you to use Goodreads!

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