I don’t do as much reading as I would like to, I could come up with plenty of excuses of things getting in the way, but I still like to think that some day I will have more free time and better priorities. For that reason, I keep a list of books that catch my eye or are recommended to me. I have used LibraryThing and the wishlists on Amazon.com to keep track of books I have read or want to read. Unfortunately, neither of those felt like that great of a match for what I was looking for.
My wife was using Goodreads and showed it off to me the last time we were in the bookstore. As the free web service is specifically tailored towards this task, it does the job better than the other solutions I tried to make work for me.
Goodreads allows you to create “shelves” and then put books on those shelves. By default, you have read, currently reading, and to-read shelves which keep your reading order straight. You can add all sorts of meta data to books on your shelves, like when you finished reading it, what you would rate it out of five stars, and a review. You can also mark your progress as you make your way through the books you are currently reading. All this information can help keep your collection organized when you want to look up a book you swear you read when it comes up in conversation some time in the future.
After you have added and rated 20 or more books to your read shelf, Goodreads will give you recommendations of other books you might enjoy based on others’ ratings and similar interests.
One strength of Goodreads that helps make it more accessible are the various ways you can get to your Goodreads account. You can use an Androidapp, an iPhone app, or the mobile version of the site. You can also hook into Facebook, Twitter, or your blog so your updates are automatically sent out and published. There is also a bookmarklet available for convenient adding a book you are looking at on Amazon to your Goodreads account.
Like most web 2.0 services these days, Goodreads has a social element to it. You can add friends to the account and see their updates as they finish books or add other books to their to-read shelf. You can also pass along recommendations for books and receive them in return.
The site is loaded with a ton of other neat features and I’m just scratching the surface. From widgets to book swaps to connecting with authors, there are a lot of things to like about Goodreads and I recommend checking it out if you are interested in tracking books that you have read or want to read. You might also check out the Goodreads Choice Awards: Best Books of 2011 to find some book recommendations across all genres.