Goodreads, Shelfari or Library Thing?

I’ve bought and lost seven book journals in the past four years, and I’m finally ready to admit that I will never be the person who writes (actually writes, as in handwrites) about books as soon as I finish them. I won’t even be the person who types about books, not even a simple list of titles, authors and date read. I once aspired to be full of such bookish (and organized) goodness, but that’s just not me.

I decided to try LibraryThing a few years ago, getting my feet wet with social cataloging, where I connected with book-reading friends, kept lists of what I read and occasionally posted short reviews. But most of my library friends seemed to be moving to Goodreads,  a different social cataloging service, and I went along. My writer friends migrated to a third competitor, Shelfari (owned now by Amazon), where it was rumored to be a better place to market one’s books, and I opened an account there, too. I then had three places to update, which meant, of course, that I gave up and bought a new book journal (since lost).

I’ve settled on Goodreads and I’m feeling pretty good about the decision. It’s not perfect, but that’s where my library, book club and writer friends hang out — and that’s a lot of  fabulous book-loving company. I have it as a Facebook application, although I try to post books to Facebook only when I’m wildly ecstatic about recommending them to others.

Still, I’m curious: Is there a better way? How do you keep track of the books you read?

18 thoughts on “Goodreads, Shelfari or Library Thing?”

  1. I really truly love Goodreads. It has the greatest communities, a very user-friendly layout and it’s really easy to add, organize and delete things from it.

    On top of GoodReads, I keep an Excel spreadsheet for page tracking purposes and a male to female author ratio.

    GoodReads and I have been best friends for three years now 😀 hah

  2. I desperately WANT to develop a bookreads habit, but so far I have been unsuccessful. So I have a google docs spreadsheet where I can note crucial information on the fly from any interent computer about what the book is (title and author), who referred it to me, who else might like it, and whether I want to own it.

    When I don’t have access to the internet, I generally nab a friend and say, “OH, so there’s this book and it sounds really neat…” and talk about it until I’ve cemented it in my own mind, or theirs.

    I have very patient friends.

  3. I’m terrible horrible terrible and keeping track of what I read too.
    I started very big w/ LibraryThing, going through all my books with a barcode reader and entering them in, but haven’t really kept that up (though I did create and do monitor a few of the “dead people’s libraries,” including the books of Tupac Shakur).

    GoodReads feels more social to me, and although I’m not as avid or conscientious as I should be, I do enjoy reflecting there about something I’ve liked, and often read others’ reviews as well – its a worthwhile distraction, for sure. I intend to use it more faithfully, and persuasively, but then I intend to do an awful lot of things.

  4. I tried all the sites a few years ago and liked GoodReads best because it has the nicest user interface and they make it super easy to connect with other readers. Since then, most bookworms I know have migrated to GoodReads as well.

    However, I have a lifetime membership at LibraryThing because it enables me to do something I’ve wanted to do for forever: make a catalog of all the books I own. That way, I don’t re-buy books I already have because I can just look them up on my phone.

  5. Catalog my own books and access the list from my phone — what a brilliant suggestion! I should definitely do that.

  6. I love the GoodReads, but I nerdily wish that it had better features for searching within your own books. Like selecting the “teen” and “fantasy” shelves to see what’s on both. I long for the Boolean.

  7. I’m a user of LibraryThing because it caters to my internal catalogist. They are the only one that allows adding books without isbns and they have the most ability to edit and classify my data about my books. My blog and Twitter are qwhere I am social about books.

  8. I actually use Bookjetty ( mainly because you can choose a library and then search for books. It will show if those books are available in the library or not. I used it when I was in Singapore and using the National Library there, and surprisingly, it is available for Seattle Library too!

  9. I also wish Goodreads had more levels of sorting (or tagging). But I’m sticking with it because now that’s where most of my reading friends are, and I like keeping up with their recommendations.

  10. Like David, I started by entering some of the books I own (many more to go). I started using Shelfari to keep track of the books I had read and to post my reviews/book talks for them. I have yet to use GoodReads, but I see that some librarians use it. In addition to accomodating non ISBN books, one nice feature of LibraryThing is its showing which books you have in common with someone else. It is the backup source for reviews in SPL’s catalog after SPL patron reviews. In Shelfari it is super easy to add and review books (LibraryThing can give you too many choices unless you’re a collector.) I’ll check out GoodReads.

  11. Well, I’ve pretty much only used GoodReads, which maybe makes me less-than-qualified to chime in here. However, I did look at others – they just never grabbed me prior to GoodReads. So maybe that’s something. Part of the appeal for me is the fact that so many librarians and other people whose literary tastes I trust are on GoodReads, and it’s user-friendly enough that they (and I) actually keep it updated. I use it all the time for reader’s advisory, making booklists, and just plain old remembering the title of that book I read six months ago with that guy who did that thing, and I think it had something to do with birds.

  12. I also went on a LibraryThing frenzy when I first found it, bought the Lifetime membership, etc. I like their Early Reviewers club. I’ve been using Goodreads almost exclusively, though, just because I can see others’ reviews and entering books is easier. I break it down now as LibraryThing: stuff I own and Goodreads: what I’m reading now or have read. Now we just need a MASTER SYSTEM to input books once and update everything. That would be awesome.

  13. I keep a written journal of books read and maintain a presence on Goodreads AND Shelfari, How nerdy is that!
    I find the virtual bookshelf on Shelfari very satisfiying. Goodreads provides more of a collaboration opportunity and the chance to increase my ever expanding ‘to read’ list. I am quite content with all three, each has it’s own rewarding qualities.

  14. Sometimes the idea of sharing what I’m reading and what I have read on one of these online resources makes me feel like I’m not reading sufficient numbers of books or thinking about them in sufficient depth to play with the really cool readers. Anyone else have this problem?

  15. I do what Jen R. does — catalog my books that I own in LibraryThing and use Goodreads to write & read reviews of titles I’ve read for work & pleasure. I used to keep a written book journal too but gave up on it because hand-writing is too slow. 🙂 Like Hayden, I really wish Goodreads had the search functionality of LT, and that Goodreads programmers understood & incorporated FRBR into their records the way that the LT programmers have done.

    One feature of Goodreads that I particular enjoy is the ability to receive & give comments on other people’s reviews. My reviews are sometimes more critical than the average Goodreads review (I like to think that they are constructively critical, but some authors and others have begged to disagree with me on that point!), and it’s always interesting to hear from someone else who read the same book but saw it very differently. Especially with teens who have read & enjoyed teen books that I didn’t like so much. It’s kind of like having a digital book group with strangers across the country!

  16. Abby, serious? Authors have commented on your reviews? Yikes. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I do find that rather an odd mix of insecurity and inflated self image. I always enjoy your reviews, by the way.
    I am rather promiscuous with the star rating system — I hand those stars out freely to any book that shows me a good time.

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