I first tried LibraryThing a couple of years ago, when we tried to start a monthly staff book discussion at our branch. It didn't last long, but while it was active we used LibraryThing to keep track of everyone's book recommendations. It worked okay, but to be honest I never liked LibraryThing very much. It seemed kind of clunky to me and didn't have exactly the functionality that I wanted, so I was never tempted to set up my own account.
Now, as I pondered this project and the prospect of creating an LT account that I wasn't likely to use much, I happened to click over to CJ's blog
. She had just posted her report on this exploration, and her opinion of LibraryThing was similar to mine, so she tried a different site called Goodreads. It sounded promising, so I went back to the assignment page, saw that it was allowable, and decided to go explore it. Within five minutes, I had signed myself up for an account. This is a site that I can see myself using for a long, long time.
So what appeals to me about Goodreads?
First, it's very clean and easy to use. Signing up is a quick process, and you can start adding books to your lists right away. Their search engine does a great job of finding what you want - the item records are all labeled well. Like when I wanted to add all the Xanth novels I read back in high school to the "books I've read" list, I only had to type Xanth and it brought up the whole series - even our library catalog misses a few.
Second, the setup makes it easy to add as much or as little information about a book as you want. If you're working down a long list, you can just give the book a star rating and it will automatically add it to your "books I've read" list without taking you off the page. If you want to add more, you can click to raise a pop-up window where you can add the date you last read the book (I love that idea!) and a review if you want, but none of that is required.
Third, for someone like me who's always been a total geek about making lists out of everything, this site is great! It lets you keep track of books you've read, books you're reading right now, and books that you want to read, and every list is fully sortable. It's also very easy to connect with your friends on the site and see what their lists look like too, and to sign up for updates on what they've been reading.
All in all, I think this is going to be great for me as a librarian. I'll be able to keep better track of everything I've been reading, so if someone comes to the desk with the familiar "do you have any more books like such-and-such?" question, and I know that I read something similar a while back but can't remember the title, now I can just log in and check my list. The friend connections will help too; for instance if I know someone who reads in a genre that I don't, I can peek in on what they've enjoyed lately. The "want to read" list is also going to be great, because I am the type of person who gets interested in reading so many books that I can't always keep track of them - I end up with titles and authors jotted down in six different places, and some always slip through the cracks. Hopefully now that won't happen so much. The other thing I thought about is that I have tons of notes and mini-reviews left over from books that I read for both the YA Great Books committee and the Maryland Author Awards committee, all currently stored in various Word documents on my hard drive. Most of those notes could be synthesized into book reviews for Goodreads with only a minimum of time and cleanup, and it would be the perfect way to recycle my old work and give it a second life.
My profile on Goodreads is at: www.goodreads.com/user/show/2638524