Online Reading Communities: GoodReads Reviewed

The Education Techie writes about tools that can help students and teachers. This week, the Techie is reviewing online reading communities. Today's review: Goodreads.

goodreads online reading social network

What Is It?

Goodreads is kind of like Facebook for readers. It allows you to make a profile that focuses on your literary interests. You can add friends and check out their profiles to see what they're reading, what they've read and what they think about those books. The program is based around lists of books, which in this case are cleverly organized into digital 'shelves.' Each user has three default shelves: one for books that are currently being read, one for books that have been read before, and another for books that the user wants to read in the future.

You aren't limited to those three shelves, though. Goodreads allows you to create your own, and this is a great way to personalize your profile. These shelves can have whatever title and represent whatever category you want, like cookbooks or guilty pleasures. The shelf system isn't the only way for you to organize the books in your virtual library. You can search by author, title and other criteria - like the date you read the book. This could be handy if you forget the title of a book you read at a certain point, or if you can't remember an author's name. Because you're searching among a group of books that you've added to a personalized database, it's more likely to produce a quick result than a Google search.

Goodreads has a lot of other handy and interesting features, including the ability to rate books. Rating a book in a public forum may lead to some discussion amongst friends, and fortunately, Goodreads has discussion groups as well. You can make your discussions public, or restrict who sees them if you only want certain friends to participate. If one of your friends makes a rating, you will be able to see it. Your friends' ratings will show up when you bring up the profile for a specific book. This can help you determine whether you're interested in reading the book or not.

goodreads quizzes

What Are Its Pros and Cons?

Goodreads has a lot of other interesting features. It is a versatile program that can have a lot of utility for those who really get into using it. It might not be the best thing for people who aren't really interested in spending time on social networks, because you'd have to add friends and get into tracking your reading activities for Goodreads to really serve its purpose. This isn't to say that I can't see people using it casually, but it just might not be enjoyable for people who aren't into social networking.

For literary enthusiasts who are interested in social networking, Goodreads is a great tool. It even has an app for Facebook, so you can integrate one program with another. This would be a great way to find friends on Goodreads and connect with long-distance friends. You could even form a virtual book group using the Goodreads discussion forums.

Overall, I think Goodreads does a great job combining social networking with literary interests. In addition to providing a useful way for members to connect with friends, find new books and learn more about things they've already read, it has a lot of features. From the shelves to fun stuff like quizzes (pictured above), Goodreads is a great idea that has been executed very well.

This is the first in a series of reviews on online reading communities. If you like to read and are looking for ways to find new books or connect to other readers, this series will be of interest to you. Stay tuned for more of these reviews this week!

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