Used by over 40 million book-lovers worldwide, Goodreads is an online website that allows people to share books to friends, track their own books, and find new books to read. This prevailing website can be coined as a social media: it allows you to discover what your peers from overseas or nearby are reading, their personal reactions towards certain novels, and enable others to see your own reading status. As Ms. Tiffany Skidmore, a KIS 8th grade English teacher at Korea International School who frequently uses Goodreads, said, “Goodreads is an amazing tool I use almost daily in my reading life. I use it to stay connected to what my friends are reading; to find new books to read by the great book recommendations or by looking at ratings and reviews of books I’m considering; and, to keep track of and organize the books I have read. Goodreads has enriched my reading life in countless ways!”
“Books are one of the strongest social objects that exist, so lots of people are innately willing to talk about and share them.” – Mr. Chandler, founder of Goodreads
One of the main features of Goodreads is its convenient method of tracing one’s own progress. There is are sections of the website called “2016 Reading Challenge” and “Currently Reading” where readers can update the number of pages they read in their currently reading books and see whether or not they are working towards their reading challenge. In between the two sections, there is another part where Goodreads recommend books that are in line or similar to the books that one is reading and the books that one rated high as, giving one a vast opportunity and exposure to a variety of novels ranging from contemporary to economics.
Another aspect, according to a New York Times article, that makes this website an escalating social media and different from other book-tracking websites such as Shelfari and LibraryThing, is the fact that “people will put more faith in book recommendations from a social network they build themselves”(Leslie Kaufman). Goodreads accentuates individuality and commonality; it allows readers to create their personal bookshelves where they can easily find their favorite books and discover what their peers are reading. This assures the users to feel free to personalize their reading process, to express their own feelings towards a book, and advocate novels to their peers.
Goodreads not only benefits readers, but also self-published authors—such as Lisa See. She, who is the author of New York’s Times Bestseller novel Shanghai Girls, Snow Flower and The Secret Fan, claimed that she has been using Goodreads since 2009 and found it as “a way to meet your readers and hope they become your advocates and spread the elusive word-of-mouth places you are not going and are off the book-tour route.” In other words, Goodreads enables authors to engage with their authors and gain invaluable feedback from them.
As students, we should encourage each other to utilize this “book-lovers’ Facebook” not only to discover new books, but also to ascertain what our fellow book-lovers and peers are reading. If you are struggling to find your next novel to read, there is one solution: Goodreads. This skyrocketing website, perhaps, will become the newest, largest ‘book-social’ media yet in our world.
– Sarah Se-Jung Oh (‘19)