Even though I’m a self-proclaimed grammar nut, for much of my life I wasn’t much of a bookworm. And despite majoring in linguistics and English in college, I didn’t enjoy reading at all. I liked words; I didn’t like books. I guess that’s like saying you like single notes, but not music. Yet, that’s how it was for me. Books were just boring, old things that I had to read for classes, but I found little enjoyment in them.
But all that changed for me a few years ago, and I owe a lot of it to the web site Goodreads. Its features have aided me in uncovering a world I didn’t know existed: the world of pleasure reading. This is why Goodreads is so superb for finding, literally, good reads:
- Ratings and Reviews. The internet is chock full of web sites that feature ratings of the products they sell. I find ratings and reviews to be essential when making a purchase, and I’ve come to rely on them quite heavily. At Goodreads, all books can be reviewed and rated, as well, on a typical one-to-five-star system. Often a highly-rated, but unknown book, will find its way on my to-read list. I do, however, try not to read reviews before reading a book because I feel like it ruins the experience, even if spoilers are hidden. I do like to read them afterwards, though, to compare how other people felt about a book I just read.
- Recommendations. Goodreads allows you to categorize your books by creating shelves for your favorite genres. But even if you don’t create shelves other than “read,” “currently-reading,” or “want-to-read” (the default shelves when you join), they will still give you recommendations based on the types of books you add to these basic categories. It’s a great way to discover new books that are similar to others that you’ve enjoyed.
- Groups. It took me a long time to discover what sorts of books piqued my interest, considering I never really had much of an interest in reading for pleasure until my 30s. But gradually, after trial and error, I found, somewhat to my surprise, that my favorite genres are science fiction (time-travel, in particular), post-apocalyptic fiction, and what might be classified as speculative fiction. Once you discover what types of books keep you reading late into the night, you can no doubt find a group to suit your interests. I belong to three groups that match up with my favorite genres. Well-managed groups will have books-of-the-month, thought-provoking discussions, and even giveaways and conversations with authors. It’s also a great way to get more recommendations.
- Friends. Goodreads is, after all, a social web site. While you can certainly find Goodreads to be helpful without many contacts, it’s another way to make the experience fun and helpful. I enjoy looking at my feed, which lists books my Goodreads friends have added, begun reading, rated, or reviewed. It’s fun to see which books you and your friends have in common, and if your ratings differed. Sometimes friends will recommend a book to me based on one I’ve added to my shelves. Having like-minded (or even different-minded) contacts creates a community of learning and sharing, so that there’s never a time where you’re at a loss for ideas about what to read next. If anything, your to-read shelf will simply get so long that you wish there were more hours in the day for reading.
I’m so glad I finally discovered that reading is not only good for your mind, but purely and completely enjoyable, as well. On some busy days, I can’t wait for the moment I can curl up at the end of the day and lose myself in a story. The mind truly is a fantastic playground, and with good books, the gates to that playground fly open.