I know what you’re thinking: Emily, isn’t Goodreads a site for readers? And you’re right. But good readers make good writers. It is hard to write without having read extensively. And it is hard to read extensively to good purpose without keeping track of things. Which is why I’m arguing that Goodreads is a tool for writers, even more than readers.
Goodreads helps you track your reading.
Seriously, if you are not already tracking which books you’ve read, go and start. It is illuminating to know which books you liked or didn’t like, even if you’re not leaving reviews for them. Tracking what you’ve read is an important part of understanding what you like and dislike – a key step in developing your taste which translates into how well you write and revise.
Plus, Goodreads now has the ability to track multiple readings of a book, so you can list when you re-read books too! Seriously this is a huge deal. Honestly it was my main gripe with Goodreads and the reason I kept my reading list on a spreadsheet for the last couple of years.
Trying to get more serious about reading more? Try signing up for the Goodreads Challenge. It will track the books you’ve read for the year and tell you how many more you need to read to reach your goal.
Goodreads helps you follow your favorite authors.
Sure, you could go out and check all your author blogs individually every day. Or you could just get their posts aggregated to one place with their responses to reader questions.
Following authors is a great way to discover new writing tricks while obsessively waiting for their next novel to come out. A lot of authors write about their writing processes. They’ll also sometimes talk about writing that inspired them. Go read that too if you can find it.
Goodreads helps you find new books.
Nobody likes being stuck for their next book to read. Goodreads doesn’t just list the newest books out like the Amazon site, so their recommendations are often richer with older books that are less widely known today. They also give you the ability to recommend books to friends on the site.
Goodreads helps you write and track your book reviews.
Ok, so I’m terrible at this. But Goodreads prompts you to write a review every time you rate a book. Reviewing books – meaning actually reflecting on what you’ve read – is another part of building up taste. Not just did you like it, but WHY did you like it. This is really the reason I started this blog. To help me think about why I like certain books and to help me incorporate those ideas into my writing. It’s already helped me to write more.
Already using Goodreads and want a friend? Want to see what it looks like? Find me there.
Do you have a writer’s tool I should review? Let me know in the comments below.