Sunday, July 3, 2011

Winning Goodreads

Part of the assignment for Soul’s Road is for all of us writers to find a way to let the world know about this collection. We have a self-appointed marketing department of three who are feeding ideas to the group. One thing I had never thought of was joining Goodreads. Icess Fernandez got Soul’s Road set up there (find us and rate us here). The next step was for each of us to set up an author profile.

I spend an embarrassing amount of time each week on social media. I tell myself it’s my job because I am a communications coordinator, but really, I brought social media to my job because it was something I was doing anyway. I did not think I needed another site to visit (just as I never thought I would blog, but here is my third post in two weeks). So I was a little hesitant to sign up for Goodreads, but as one of the self-appointed marketing experts, I thought I should set a good example. I had no idea what I was in for.

Goodreads (in case you don’t know) is a site built entirely for readers where you can rate, share, and recommend books to other readers. Talking about books is one of my very favorite things in life, as anyone who’s been pinned down in a fireside chat with me can attest. But I read so much and socialize so little, that I haven’t been filling this need. Sure I send a friend an email about a book or post about it on facebook, but somewhere between posts about my hangnail and my lunch, the important conversations about books get lost. Which means I was hooked on Goodreads the moment I signed in.

The first day I was a member I filled in, rated, and reviewed all the books I had read over the last week. I was at work and didn’t have access to my bookshelves, but you better believe I was excited to get home. I think I ended the day with nine books on my “shelf” and a few friends Goodreads helped me find from my email account. Things didn’t get really crazy until the next morning.

I am an early riser and often fitful first thing. I go on the internet or putter around the house—sometimes I even walk the dog—anything to put my mind in a more restful place where I can read and write. Day two of Goodreads gave me the perfect task. I sat down in my office and started inputting books I have in my shelves. My bookshelves are a special place—crowded and double-stacked with more books piled on top—but every book in those shelves is one I have read and liked (or am keeping for future study).

So there I was at some ungodly hour of the morning typing all of my books into the internet. But the goal of Goodreads isn’t just to type your books in, you get to rate them too. As a fast reader, I am not always the best at remembering the books I’ve read, so having them in front of me was a great advantage and knowing that I had read them (they had, after all, made the shelf) helped too.

It started out rather easily. I input the books stacked horizontally on top of other books—those were the ones I had read most recently and it was easy to rate them. Then I noticed my ratings were skewing high, but I told myself it was okay because I was pulling from a stack of books I had kept. No one was going to judge me on my ratings, right? Things started getting more difficult when I reached the vertical books—some of which I haven’t read in years. If it sat in the shelf, I gave it at least a three unless I knew I kept it for another reason. The exercise even gave me a chance to look at some books and wonder why they were still there (I try to purge often) if I couldn’t remember them. Things got really difficult when I started rating books by friends. Honesty is the best policy, but I also tend to be harsher on people I know and love in some perverse attempt to help them better themselves. But these ratings are important, right? Soul’s Road is rated five stars at this writing because, well, our friends have been rating it. But who else is going to rate a bunch of unknowns. Who else has access to the manuscript in advance of the release…

Throughout the day I gave my partner updates on my progress. At 391, it was cute, I had surpassed one of my friends who seemed to commit to the endeavor. At 460, as I had taken the laptop to the living room so I could rate while I was talking with him, I felt a twinge of chagrin at misplaced priorities. In the evening as I furiously typed in my 700th rating, he teased me about trying to “win” Goodreads. He was right. I had taken a social site where people casually input their favorite books, and I had input everything I ever remembered reading. There were rules, of course, I only put in my very favorite childhood books and who could even remember the titles (let alone rate) the armloads of horror novels I used to collect during the summer, but I may have taken things a bit far.

This morning I am trying to channel my competitive nature elsewhere. I’m using Goodreads to compare reading compatibility with my friends (which is also a chance to see books I may have missed adding to my shelf). I’m writing this blog. I’m wondering where in the 706 books I’ve rated and the 3,458 movies we’ve rated on Netflix I even have time to get teased by my partner. I may even take the dog for a walk. But if you think you can beat my tally or you want to see how compatible we are as reading buddies, find me and friend me here. I’ll be adding books as I remember them and as I read new ones. I will even write reviews and fill in my bio and interests. And maybe, just maybe, I will find that life off of the internet.


  1. I joined (thanks for the invite) and rated a few books. The trouble with me is that I can no longer remember what I’ve read over the years. I read a book and then move onto the next. If I were quizzed on the author’s name or title of a book I’d read a week ago…I would flunk.
    Anyway, I love the site and it has actually led me to some other interesting sites. BTW I’m always looking for a good book to read so feel free to recommend your favorite books. I’m enjoying Goodreads. Thanks for the invite!

  2. Glad to have a forum to share books! My memory is awful too. Let's not keep a tally, let's just recommend good books :)