Social Networking based on books seems only slightly less useful than Google+, but I don’t really use the social aspect of it. (I’m friends with one other person, who added me. Not that I mind, Ian!)
Goodreads has so endeared itself to me because it indulges my yearning for order through excessive cataloguing. The practice of categorization is the only thing I’m at all neat about, and because Goodreads holds out the promise of stats (like last.fm!) and facilitates self-reported consumption habits, I’ve become completely hooked. I try to read books faster just so I can mark them as finished.
The ability to record the precise date I finish a book is what has left me helpless before this service. See, I started recording books not just as I finished them, but books I’ve previously read, as well! For instance, I found a Google chat transcript in which I mentioned finishing reading Barack Obama’s Dreams From my Father, which let me insert it on to my “read” shelf, with the exact date I finished it marked. I can’t tell you how satisfying that is.
The problem is that for the vast majority of books I have read, I do not know the exact date I finished them. I’ve relaxed my standard to the approximate month I finished them (for instance, I finished Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go shortly after I arrived in Seattle last year, so I have that marked as March 2010), but even then, determining the month or even the year I finished some books is a daunting task. I have no idea whether I read The Great Gatsby when I was in high school or university. I do remember that I got my copy of Brand New World when my high school library was clearing out some of its old stock, but which year of high school was that? And when did I read my first Roald Dahl book: when I was seven, or was I older? I thought I’d begun reading him before he died, but now I’m not sure!
These are anxiety-inducing questions for me.
The most useful and less dorky use for Goodreads is its ability to record books I have not yet read, but intend to. I split this into two categories, or, in the website’s terminology, “shelves.” “To Read” is for things I don’t own but want to read, while “Stacks” contains the unread items I actually own.
After the jump are the books currently on my To Read shelf: