I have had several people ask me how I find good books. My first response is almost always, “When you read enough you find at least some good books.” But the second more serious response is I read recommendations of others and I take them seriously.
I almost always look at reviews on Amazon. I read other people’s reviews of books. I follow a lot of author’s blogs and some of their twitter feeds and if I like the author I often take seriously their recommendations for a good book.
But more than anything I take seriously recommendations of friends. One method of finding those recommendations is through social media. Goodreads is an attempt as a social media site for readers. It is the Facebook of the reading world.
You make friends, you see what they are reading now. You can compare your book lists with their book lists. Goodread compares them for you and sees how much your tastes are comparable. But you can also see what the “Wisdom of the Crowds” says about a book. There are usually more ratings of books on Goodreads than on Amazon, but maybe not more reviews. Those average ratings says something (certainly not all) about a book.
Like all social media, you often get what you give. I review almost every book I read on my blog. And I use Goodreads to drive a little traffic to my blog. I always link my Goodreads review to my blog, but I also always give a short review on Goodreads so there is some sense of what I thought about the book.
Like the early days of Facebook and Twitter, I follow pretty much everyone that ask on Goodreads. (It is bi-directional like Facebook, so if you friend someone, you see them and they see you.) I have not “unfriended” anyone, but there are clearly different types of users.
Many will get on and try to mark every book they have ever read. If you want to do that, then do it before you have friends, because it is a little annoying to just get 87 new book ratings, with no reviews from a single person.
I like to see people write about what they read, not just rate it. A rating tells me almost nothing about the book. Even a couple sentences tells me a lot about what you think about it.
I also like the feature that allows you to export your reading lists. I used this to track what I read last year and created my best books of the year list from that. It also exports to several other similar services like Shelfari.
If Goodreads seems interesting to you, then friend me. My profile is here.