Should You Be Using Goodreads’ Book Reviews to Choose Your Next Read?

Photo Courtesy: Ask Media Group

There’s nothing like finding the perfect read: a page-turner that keeps you hooked and up all night because you can’t put it down; a novel that takes you to a distant, fascinating world and lets you escape from reality for a little while; or a book that teaches you about something you’ve been longing to learn about — like pizza making, dog training or career development.

But finding the perfect book is no easy task. I have the feeling that sometimes I spend more time figuring out what my next great read will be than actually reading. Because once I find that rare novel that checks all of the boxes, I devour it.

I’ve developed certain tricks when it comes to discovering that great next book: asking my friends with similar reading tastes for recommendations; checking the new releases from some of my favorite authors; reading book recommendation lists from those authors; and visiting NPR’s annual, curated selection Book Concierge. But these last few years I’ve also turned to Goodreads.

Goodreads is a social network and book database that launched in January 2007. Amazon, which started its giant retailer business as an online bookseller, bought Goodreads in 2013.

"Our mission is to help people find and share books they love," Goodreads’ website says. Goodreads’ social network aspect lets you create an account, track what you’re reading and keep a log of it. You can also add friends and see what they’re reading. One of my favorite features is the "Reading Challenge." Every January you can set a number of books you want to read and then work your way toward that goal amount throughout the year. Setting a realistic yet somewhat challenging goal can be the perfect way to persuade yourself to read just a little bit more, even if it’s just one or two more books than the previous year. And this is one of those competitions where you’re just measuring yourself against yourself.

You can also just use Goodreads as a catalog to look up a book’s author, publication date or number of pages.