One of the most surprisingly frequent comments I get while working the desk, doing reader’s advisory of any sort, goes along the lines of “is there any way you could tell me which books I’ve already read?” My place of work doesn’t keep accessible records of what people have checked out for privacy reasons (the only exception being if a patron accrued a fine on the book, and once they pay it off, the record itself will disappear after a while.) And while I usually have a good handle on what books I’ve read, it would be helpful to somehow categorize them, again for RA purposes: sci fi, thrillers, biographies, fiction written about ancient Greece, or books featuring sea monsters.
Enter Goodreads. I’ve been a fan of the site for some time, migrating over from Librarything once I stumbled across it. It’s an ideal way to categorize books, offering individual tagging options for unusual or fun tags. One of my favorite tags is “DNF”, for “did not finish”. Another is “pantheon”, for that group of books I would want with me if I ever get stranded on that mythical island.
What I like about it best, and what is a common personal thread reagarding internet applications like these, are two things: ease of use and a clean looking interface. I like applications that are fairly easy to figure out – if I need to sped time on a tutorial to use it, it’s probably not worth that time, and there’s probably something else out there I should be using. Secondly, I like a clean-looking page. I hate clutter, flashing ads, dancing fonts, floating hearts, anything along those lines. Cut the crap and give me what I want – one of my pet theories is that MySpace crashed and burned when it became popular to bling out your profile – everything became so ugly and cluttered so quickly, people left, searing for the cleaner, calmer lines of Facebook. Same there: Goodreads is a useful, clean website, and there’s a lot to be said for that.