I learned about Goodreads.com about three weeks ago, when English teacher Vicki Heilig asked me if I’d include some discussion about the tool during book talks with her freshman and senior English classes. I set up an account and played around in the social media site to prepare to demonstrate to the students all of its features and how they might use it as a resource. I was hooked! It reminded me of the addiction I experienced when I signed up for Facebook about ten years ago. Everything is so much more fun when you do it as part of a community!
Making friends is easy on Goodreads because of the handy feature where you can sign in for the first time using your Facebook account. Because of this, I already have 57 friends! Goodreads also will automatically post to your Facebook wall for you, so every time you save a new book to one of your shelves or review a book, your friends can see your activity not only on your Goodreads wall but also on your Facebook wall. I have enjoyed the site because I can participate in dialogue about books, get recommendations, and organize my reading. Right now, my “read” shelf only contains four titles; it’s a little overwhelming to think about populating that space with every book I have ever read in the history of my life, so to avoid that stress, I’m starting with a clean reading slate. Should I be so inspired as to add a book to the shelf that I read years ago, I will do it, but I’m not going to make it a requirement.
Certainly, Goodreads is an excellent tool for both teachers and students to encourage reading for pleasure. The resources I’ve been pushing the most are the “Readers Also Enjoyed” and “Related Shelves” boxes that offer users recommendations based off of books they tend to pick up, and the “to-read” shelf, which is a helpful way to remember all of the recommendations that come a reader’s way from many sources. I used to keep a notepad on my phone for this purpose, but now I can just update my Goodreads shelf instead, keeping it all in one place.
When compared to a similar social media service offered through the school’s online catalog, Destiny, the only downside of Goodreads is that the school library doesn’t necessarily have recommended titles on its bookshelves. That’s a small bummer, but overall I am very pleased to have met the acquaintance of Goodreads.com, and I look forward to continuing to introduce the site to others!