“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
– C S Lewis
Following on from 10 Goodreads hacks for homeschoolers, home-edders and all book loving families, I give you part 2, 10 more goodreads hacks.
We are a home educating family of 6 and we read a lot of books. Goodreads allows us to keep track of them all. And so much more…
The ultimate tool for home ed record keeping, to inspire a love of reading and to expand our knowledge, communication and thinking skills. A triple threat 🙂
If you’re not yet familiar with goodreads, you might want to start with Part 1 here. Otherwise let’s get on with it. How exactly can you use goodreads to enhance the whole family’s reading experience?
1. Join a goodreads group
Goodreads groups are essentially online book clubs. No need to wait for the next meeting, discussions are always open and ready to join when you’re ready to post 🙂
The goodreads community is vast and varied and there’s surely a group for everyone. Get inspired to read outside your usual go-tos or indulge your passion in a certain genre, series or author.
Remember that vampire phase I mentioned in Part 1? In our house it was all about Sienna Mercer. And to celebrate their love for her books, my eldest daughters created their own goodreads group.
But if vampires aren’t your thing, perhaps you fancy armchair travelling Around the world in 80 days or Discovering Russian Literature – there are tons of groups to choose from.
As you search for groups, goodreads displays the number of members and when they were last active, making it super easy to see at a glance the most lively and engaged communities. You can also find groups reading books you’re currently-reading or want-to-read.
Join a group read (read along with others in the group and chat as you go), check out the groups bookshelves, take part in discussions and challenges and make new friends while you’re at it.
You can even compare books with prospective friends and goodreads will calculate your book compatibility score.
2. Write book reviews
Book reviews are a huge part of goodreads and so helpful when we want a sense of whether a book’s for us. All reviews are public, available on the book’s page.
Though there is an option to save unfinished reviews as drafts and to add private notes. Great for when you’re still reading the book and aren’t yet ready to share your thoughts. Or keeping a record of where you heard about the book or why you’re planning to read it.
When writing reviews, be sure to mark any spoilers so those that want can glide over them without so much as a whiff of what’s in store.
3. Keep track of your reading activity
Goodreads offers many ways to track your reading…
- The big picture
Fill your shelves with all the books you’ve ever read and want-to-read. Personalise those lovely shelves and it’s easy peasy to see all your classics, and poetry, and star-wars books, along with all you’ve read-with-rosie. And it’s nowhere near as daunting as you might think. Head here for a quick refresher on how it’s done.
- The annual reading challenge
On your home page, you’ll find a nifty little note of how many books you’ve pledged to read this year and how well you’re doing. Goodreads updates your progress each time you move a book from your currently-reading to your read shelf. If you forget to add it to currently-reading, add the dates read and it’ll count towards your challenge. See how many books you’ve read, what percentage that amounts to, and how far ahead or behind schedule that leaves you.
- Your year in books
Each year goodreads collates information, not just on how many books you’ve read, but also how many pages, the average length of books you read, the longest and shortest, and the least and most popular among the goodreads community. Find this handy feature through the my books tab, scroll down to the bottom of your shelves and voila 🙂
- And the progress you’re making on individual books
Along with the option to write a review, the ‘My activity’ section of each book added to your shelves allows you to keep track of your progress through the book. You can also suggest who you would recommend it to and change the format and edition so the cover in your shelves looks like the one you’re reading. And you want them to match, right? You can keep track of any re-reads here too, although I’m rather partial to a read-more-than-once shelf as well.
- Adding notes and highlights
Goodreads can sync with your kindle notes and highlights. Keep them private or share with others. Useful if you’re group or buddy reading and want to maintain an ongoing conversation as you go through the book. Or if you’re planning to write a review.
4. Check out listopia
If you love lists… *fondly remembers a favourite gift from many years ago, a book full of lists, what even was that?* Safe to say, I do love lists and goodreads has lots of them. Maybe you want to find the most influential parenting books, the best homeschooling books, books on attachment parenting, or the best star wars books. Or you’re keen to know what to read after Harry Potter or what 50 books to read before you die, charming 🙂
Search popular tags or your favourite author, book, or genre. It’s worth noting the two different search options on the listopia page, I’d recommend trying them both, the top one often yields more results as the other relies on list authors adding a tag to match your exact search.
5. Find more great books
So we’ve covered groups and lists, both sure-fire ways to dig up shiny new treasures for your shelves. But if you want to improve the recommendations goodreads offers, there are a couple of handy hacks to move them from far out to spot on, or at least heading in the right direction.
Rate more books, choose your favourite genres and categorise your shelves. These all help personalise the suggestions you receive. And when they get it so wrong it’s not even funny, tell them you’re not interested. Or embrace the opportunity to step outside your usual comfort zone, you choose.
6. Expand the goodreads database
Rarely we’ll try and add books to our shelves and they won’t appear in the goodreads library. If you’re lucky enough to have a goodreads librarian in the house, go ask them and they’ll sort it for you, works every time 🙂 But failing that, contact the goodreads librarians group or enter the details yourself. This option appears as you search.
7. Get your questions answered
If you’ve ever fancied asking the author, or you’ve got a burning question about your favourite book, goodreads can help. Each book’s page has an option to ask the goodreads community. From there you can also view questions and answers already posted. Group discussions are another great place to get your questions answered.
And if you want to connect with your favourite authors, as long as they’re ‘goodreads authors’ and open to answering questions, like the lovely Pam Laricchia, you can post your ponderings on their author page and receive their personal response. From this page you can click to follow the author and check out their shelves and latest posts.
8. Test your knowledge
Try a goodreads quiz and test your knowledge of books, series, characters, genres, and many other book-ish treats. Compare your results with others in the community and check out quizzes your friends have taken, or even devised themselves.
Just like reviews, groups, discussions and lists, you can create your own quizzes.
9. Compile your reading statistics
Goodreads and reading stats go together like poetry and teatime, like coffee and books, and like literature and vending machine snacks. Scroll down your ever-expanding shelves, ahh so satisfying 🙂 Click on reading stats and you’ll find a snazzy set of charts and graphs showing how many books and pages, month by month, you’ve read since joining the site, and when those books were published. The oldest book on my shelves? The Canterbury Tales from 1390.
To complement the stats available and to indulge our nerdy nature, here in the kinder path house we like to go a step further. Each year we review our annual challenge in that bit more detail, well when I say we, it’s often my daughter who’ll get there first.
Analysing the data over a few years, we’ve devised the following list.
Actual numbers and percentage of total books read, broken down into –
- Standalones or part of a series
- Time periods
- Length of book
- Buddy reads, group reads, read alouds or solo reads
- First reads and re-reads
- Each month
- Under the radar (less than 5,000 goodreads ratings) or Popular (5,000 or more ratings)
- And in common with other family members
Sometimes posted as a comment on our annual reading challenge or printed out for reference, these stats are fun to compile and compare year on year and between us all. They’re also mighty useful when it comes to home ed record keeping.
10. Keep your own permanent record
And talking of recording for home ed, each year I print off my children’s annual challenge list. This can be done from the challenge page, or if like me you have a shelf on your account, you can print from there. Customise how the shelf displays – covers or in list format, in order of adding, publication, rating, reading, and oh, so many more options.
Be sure to make good use of the print preview function to ensure the most efficient and complete display, no mean feat when there could be 100 plus books on this shelf. And be careful to keep that cheeky little cursor off the screen while you’re printing or you might just end up with one book’s preview info obscuring it’s neighbours. Not fun 🙂
Goodreads also offer the option to export your entire library as a spreadsheet so you can keep your own permanent record of all those beautiful books.
Phew and I nearly didn’t even mention quotes. Find them on book pages, author pages and searching the database, accessed through the community tab.
I’d love to know, do you use goodreads? Share your favourite hacks in the comments below.
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