When I introduced everyone to Bookshop in January, I was also learning about some alternatives to using Goodreads to track books for the year. I found a lot of alternatives and have tried a few; here is my takeaway.
What Is Goodreads?
Goodreads is arguably the world’s largest site “for readers and book recommendations.” It’s a social media site owned by Amazon that invites readers to record and recommend books. There’s an app, there are giveaways, groups – all the normal things you find with a social media site.
Throughout the year I track what I’m reading. And, like most of the world, I use Goodreads. I even post what I’ve read every month in my “mission” posts.
But the Goodreads website and app are both clunky. In fact, I recently learned that there have been little to no improvements since Amazon acquired the site. I’ve read about bullying issues in the groups and towards authors, and about people making up fake reviews. Don’t take my word for it, though; here are the articles I checked:
- Why I’m Deleting Goodreads and Maybe You Should Too
- 6 Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Goodreads
- The Problems With Goodreads
- Everything or Less That’s Wrong With Goodreads
What I Look For In A Goodreads Alternative
There are several things I look for in a Goodreads alternative:
- The most important thing I look for is easy of use. Is it easy, mindless, and super-simple to navigate?
- Is there both an app and a website? The older I get the less I want to only have an app. I want both an app and a website so I can sit at my computer and do data entry or browser or whatever. But I love the on-the-go flexibility with an app.
- Can I scan books directly from the app? Having to search or otherwise hand-key is a pain.
- Can I import books from Goodreads into this new app? For me this is a must. There’s no way I’m scanning or hand-keying years of reading into a new app.
- Is that app/website modern or clunky?
- More than numbers and statistics, are there graphs that visually represent what I’ve read?
Goodreads Alternatives I’ve Used
I found LibraryThing before I found Goodreads, and it remains my favorite. It is a clunky, too, but I love that it’s still majority held by the founder of the company. As far as I know at this time (March 2023) a small, tight team runs the whole site.
The LibraryThing Home page defaults to an overview of my world. In the center you see “Your Books” which tells me I have 849 books, have written 42 reviews, have 24 collections and have rated 291 different items.
To the left is a simple text menu of different options like recent news, my feed, and recommendations. Further down are things to discover like books, reviews, community (groups,) lists, and more.
There is also a menu at the top of the screen with plenty of options. Here’s the Zeitgeist which gives you stats for all of LibraryThing.
There is also one place to view all of your books. There are several different views. Here is the view of all of the covers.
And here’s a view of the some of the different tags on my books.
There’s even a “local” feature that highlights places near you. I even added a couple of the Little Free Libraries that I know about into Mount Pleasant into the local listings.
I’ve been on LibraryThing for a very, very long time and as such, I’ll stay despite the clunkiness. I was there when they were using paid memberships and bought a lifetime membership. And I’m still there now that the site is 100% free.
- What Makes LibraryThing LibraryThing (2013 blog post)
- LibraryThing celebrates libraries. Check out the list of legacy libraries LibraryThing has catalogued.
- LibraryThing has a whole lot more going on than I can even mention. Things like flash-mob cataloguing, book pile contests, treasure hunts, and book haiku.
The StoryGraph is (at least for me) a new kid on the block. It’s feisty, entrepreneurial driven, and loaded with cool graphics and statistics. Find me on The StoryGraph.
I LOVE these graphics. This is what I mean by a modern, easy-to-use Goodreads alternative. You can click on any “pie” slice to see the books that fall within the selected category. I love knowing that I read mostly informative, reflective, mysterious, lighthearted, and adventurous books.
The vast majority of the books I read are medium paced.
And my reading is split between fiction and nonfiction.
Look at the different genres!
There are more genres, by the way; the screenshot only shows the top genres.
So what have I learned from The StoryGraph? I love books that are medium-paced novels around 300 pages that are mystery, fantasy, historical, reference, self-help, science fiction, romance, contemporary, or memoir.
As much as I love the graphs, as of March 12, 2023, you can’t scan books into The StoryGraph app. And that’s why probably will not use this as much as LibraryThing.
Bookstagram, BookTok & Other Social Media Alternatives to Goodreads
Authors, readers, editors, and others associated and enamored with books and publishing are all over social media. The only issue I’ve had with this Goodreads alternative is that while people are really enthusiastic about books, they aren’t always enthusiastic about the kinds of books I like.
For example, when I first joined TikTok, people were super enthusiastic about A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah Maas. I got a copy, read, and was disappointed. I liked the premise, but really hated the blood and guts.
On the other hand, one of the first authors I followed on TikTok was Mary Robinette Kowal. I just enjoyed listening to her talk about her writing process. And then I read The Calculating Stars, fell in love with her writing, and quickly read through (and enthusiastically recommend) the whole series.
Even More Digital Goodreads Alternatives
There are a ton of other digital options if you want to skip or escape from Goodreads. Here are some others. Links are correct as of March 12, 2023.
- BookMarks by LitHub
- Bookroo (A book club for kids)
- Book Tracker (App for iOs/Mac only)
- Copper Books
- Cozy Mysteries List
- Evernote (or Notion, Airtable, GoogleSheets.) Tried ’em all, love Evernote.
- Fantastic Fiction
- Italic Type
- Notes app on your mobile device.
- Read This Twice
- Readerie (Website says it’s coming soon)
- ReadingList Book Tracker (Apple app. This link goes to the app in the Apple app store.)
- ReadMore (Android app. Link goes to the app on the Google Play Store.)
- Revish, “Book reviews done right”
- Riffle on tumblr
- The Greatest Books
- Threadable (iPhone app)
- What Should I Read Next
Analog Goodreads Alternatives
Want to go old school? Here are some analog ways to track what you’re reading or find new books to read.
- Book Clubs: I’ve never been in a book club; it’s a group activity and boy, I avoid those as much as possible. But I always seem to enjoy the books I buy that are designed for book clubs.
- Bookstores: There’s just nothing like wandering around a bookstore in the analog world and seeing what catches your imagination.
- Friends & Family: Exchange books, get recommendations.
- Hotels: There are literary & book themed hotels.
- Library: When’s the a last time you were in your local library?
- Magazines: It’s been a hot minute or two since I read a magazine, but they’re still around.
- Paper and Pen: If you keep a journal, it’s a great place to track what you’ve read and what you want to read. And it’s worked for millenia!
- Subscription Boxes: There are a whole load of book and reader themed subscription boxes out there.
- Thrift Stores: Wander into a thrift store and see what kind of random book you can find. It’s rarely today’s best sellers, but it might be a best seller from 20 years ago
How do you keep track of what you’ve read? What are your favorite Goodreads alternatives? Which one should I try next?