How I keep track of what books I read

Love hate relationship with Goodreads

I signed up for Goodreads in February 2012. I am not sure why or what I was looking for. I love reading books, heard about this site where can you review books, thought why not. I sign up for just about anything to try it out.

I didn’t really use Goodreads for years. Amazon bought Goodreads about a year after I joined in March of 2013. Back then it was still cool when Amazon bought something. Feel like it gave the site or service a stamp of validation. Instead of like your favorite site joining the unstoppable army.

But I added a bunch of books that I had read and then didn’t use the site again for 5 years. Exhibit A

What got be to use Goodreads again was the Year Reading Challenges.

I saw someone post about it on social media. I love reading, and want to read more, so I thought I should give it a shot. In 2017, the first year, I set an ambitious goal and fell very far short of it.

I set a more reasonable goal for 2018 and fell just shy. Exactly 4% shy. Different story for a different day.

This year, 2019, I am happy to be on track for an achievable goal.

just barely on track

Having tracked what I have read on Goodreads now for 2 years, it has become a habit.

When I finish a book, I will open up Goodreads and set the completion date. I sometimes estimate the start date if I didn’t remember to mark it down.

In my mind it is part of the ritual of finishing a book. Mark it read on Goodreads and write a quick review if I feel the situation requires.

Kindle makes this easy, as it has a nice integration with Goodreads that will mark when you start and finish the book automatically. Amazon family at work.

So that is how I track all the books I read, and when I read them. And Goodreads makes it easy to generate images like this:

Books I read in 2018

Bonus Section: Improvements to Goodreads

While I use Goodreads at least once a month now, there are a few areas I think they could really improve on.

Change ‘Friends’ to ‘Reading Buddies’

What is a friend on Goodreads? Unfortunately by calling it a friend, they have confused the point. Yes I am friends with some people, but I don’t really want to know what they are reading.

However a reading buddy would be someone that I really do care about their taste and consumption of books. Just a name change could help clarify what the purpose of connecting with other users on the site is.

Homepage ‘Update’ need some work

The central section of the homepage is ‘Updates’ and I don’t really find a lot of value there. It is a rolling update of what friends have read, what they want to read etc.

I find the ‘want to read’ notifications particularly not helpful. I don’t really want to know what books someone wants to read, I want to know which books they have read and what they would recommend.

Or maybe the issue with the updates section is really just a symptom of the larger problem of I have too many ‘friends’ I don’t want to follow closely so I discount all the updates.

Marking reading start and end dates is a bit clunky

For something so core to the service, this seems a bit too hard.

For example here is an example of a book on the service and the menu.

What will clicking the Green button do? Will it mark it as ‘I want to read this book’?

I thought I had already marked this book as Want to Read. But turns out I hadn’t. So clicking the button saves it in my Want to Read collection.

Will clicking the now checked want to read button again remove it from my Want to Read collection?

No, it brings up the ability to sort my Want to Read collection with a number box.

So how would I remove it from my Want to Read collection? Clicking the drop down arrow doesn’t give any hints.

What does ‘Add shelf’ do? I thought it was already on my Want to Read shelf?

How do I mark that I started reading this book last week? Clicking Currently Reading doesn’t open up a date picker. It just spins for a while then puts it into a new ‘Currently Reading’ yellow state. The currently reading text doesn’t even fit on the button.

To access the date picker I have to actually mark the book as ‘Read’.

The date picker is what I wanted access to the whole time. But I didn’t want to mark the book read, when in reality I had only started reading it.

I could go on, but it feels like their UI hasn’t been updated since about 2014. Not sure if that is true that is the feeling it gives off.

Code, design, cook. Make stuff. Cookies. @BYU grad.