To be, or not to be … social.

butterfly made of social media logos

Or how social to be?

For some odd reason, bookworms have gotten the reputation of being antisocial. See the following internet memes if you need any evidence:











(and please excuse the spelling error in the first one; I didn’t make it!)

But of course, as readers know, reading can feel social. You have fictional–OK–imaginary friends. You can connect with someone in real life based on a shared love of story or shared delight at witty repartée. You can start a book club to probe the depths of your own convictions, literary or otherwise. And for those of us under 50 (and some exceptional ones over 50!) you can do this online.

Even if you are a great reader, there are doubtless times when you have been unable to remember a favorite author’s name, or recall when you read a certain classic tome. You may even forget if you’ve read a certain book, if it was mediocre enough to leave little impression.

I am SO GLAD that there are now digital services which help you to both organize your reading habits and book collection, as well as be as social, or not, as you want. Maybe you’ve already heard of these, but I wanted to lay out what I think are the main strengths and minor weaknesses of the biggest service provider in this literary niche:

I used to use Shelfari and stubbornly refuse to switch to Goodreads, but when everyone and their dog started using Goodreads, I acknowledged the writing on the wall. At any rate, both are now owned by Amazon, so there’s no point being stubborn about it. So first, the helpful uses of Goodreads:

  1. catalogs your books by many factors, including Date Read, Date Added, Author, Title, etc.
  2. gives Authors a homepage on which to interface with Readers
  3. has channels set up for giveaway contests to encourage interaction
  4. provides a crowd-sourced, honest review system for readers
  5. allows for discussions about reading and writing topics
  6. connects you to friends’ reading lists and recommendations

So, yes, it can be very helpful! And I particularly like that you can cross-catalog your books to be on more than one of your own labeled shelves, so for example, a historical Tudor romance could be on your “History” shelf, your “Romance” shelf, and your “England” shelf. Neat, eh? Librarians, unite!

I’ve discovered a few annoying workarounds that were not necessary on Shelfari, such as having to mark a book as “read’ in order to edit your file on it and then undoing that status, and reading-goal-setting that is not as fun. But overall, a very useful site.

Sometimes I pull up Goodreads to mark a book ‘To-Read,” but more often I simply use my Amazon Wish List for that. Goodreads has the potential to be much more social of a site than Amazon, but it depends on what you want to use it for. Personally, I don’t try to gain friends on Goodreads; I use Facebook to keep those frail acquaintance connections alive, so I’m not a very social user at all. But I see a lot of activity on forums and comments that mean other people are using the site very differently.

Do you use a website or phone app to keep track of your reading trophies? Or do you still count on your memory to do that for you? Lucky sod.

Do you like making friends based on online reading preferences? Or do you prefer to use Facebook for that?


Image via NotInPineBrookAnymore blog