Monday, January 17, 2011

Writerly Tools: Goodreads

So this week we're talking about a website instead of a computer program, and the website in question is Goodreads.

I know a lot of you are groaning now. Goodreads is for readers and this is supposed to be a section about writerly tools. Not readerly tools.

Yet, one of the easiest ways to improve upon your craft is to read. When you pick up a book all you need to do is pay attention to what the author does. How does he form a sentence? What hints of foreshadowing does he lay early in the story? How does he show instead of tell. There's so much to learn from published authors that you can't get unless you're reading.

Besides, I understand. In fact, I resisted signing up for Goodreads for month, and when I finally did, nothing seemed very special. Just another website. But after a few weeks of tentative messing around, I'm slowly getting a little obsessed. So let me give you five reasons why Goodreads isn't as terrible as you might imagine:
  1. Goodreads organizes books
    If you're neurotic like me, the idea that you can digitally make book lists is amazing. I particularly love the "to-read" shelf because everything I've been meaning to read is there and organized beautifully. Not only that, but inputting information allows you to see how many books or pages you've read in the past year!
  2. Goodreads is a good time waster
    Because sometimes we need to waste time. At least wasting time looking at books is better than surfing articles on Wikipedia or StumbleUpon, right? It is. There are dozens of lists on Goodreads cultivating books, and there's no way you can spend some time on that sight and not find something that looks interesting.
  3. Goodreads' reviews are written by people that care
    Yes, there are those people that give five stars to every book they read to be nice. There also those people who give five stars to everything by a certain author, whether the book has even been written or not. But you will not see Amazon reviews on Goodreads. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones that complain about customer service or slow shipping and have nothing to do with the book. These reviewers actually care to some extent, and that's awesome.
  4. Goodreads makes it easy to find books
    There are times that I read a short story and then want to read something by that author. Fortunately, Goodreads links everything together in an easy-to-use interface that makes finding books about a thousand easier than combing Amazon.
  5. Goodreads is a social network
    I know, I know. You already knew that. But Goodreads' status as a social network is one of the things that makes it fun. Because it's more specified than Facebook will ever be, you will always be able to find a fellow reader that likes the same things as you do. There are lists of recommendations, there are quizzes to do, and there are famous people to stalk--all of which are fun, social networking things.


Annerb said...

An interesting spin. I think you make some good points. I especially like that it's more specialized than Facebook. Win.

Kate said...

You've intrigued me, I think I will waste some time and go check it out.

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