How do you use Goodreads? by Camy Tang

I’m in a Facebook group and we recently got into a discussion about how we each use Goodreads. I discovered that everyone seems to use Goodreads differently, so I wanted to ask you guys how you use Goodreads (if you’re on there at all).

Do you belong to groups on Goodreads? Which groups do you interact with the most and why?
Do you pay attention to the Updates tab on your home page to see what your Goodreads friends are doing?
Do you notice when your Goodreads friends add a book to their To-Read shelf?
Do you use Goodreads shelves to organize and catalogue your books?
Do you pay attention to reviews on Goodreads when choosing your next book?
Have you ever bought a book because someone on Goodreads recommended it, whether through the “recommend a book” feature or from a post in a Goodreads group?
Do you use the trivia? Quizzes? Quotes? Reading Challenges? Creative Writing community?
Do you enter Goodreads contests for free books? How do you decide which contest you enter? Or do you just enter a whole bunch of them since the chances of winning are low?

Personally, I mostly use Goodreads to interact on groups, especially Christian Fiction Devourers. I also really enjoy the Reading Challenges on Christian Fiction Devourers and have used the challenges to whittle down my TBR Pile this year.

I have a Camy Tang/Camille Elliot group–it’s small, but I always try to answer within a day or so if anyone posts.

I’m also on a few smaller groups like a few Regency romance groups. They’re not active, but the discussions are interesting, and I especially like the recommendations for new Regency romances.

I don’t really use Goodreads to catalogue my books because I already had several thousand books listed in my book catalog program (I use Booxter) on my computer before I started using Goodreads, and frankly, I’m too lazy to input all my books into Goodreads when I already have everything organized and catalogued in Booxter.

I admit that it is useful to put books in my Currently Reading shelf to remind me which books I should start next, because sometimes I’ll forget. So it’s not really my Currently Reading shelf, since they’re all books I haven’t started yet, so much as my Remember-to-read-this-next shelf.

I also admit that I don’t really pay much attention to my friend updates. I’ll read them, but the books they add to their To-Read shelf don’t really spark any interest in me because a lot of people add books to their To-Read shelves, especially when they enter a Goodreads contest. So To-Read shelf adds don’t interest me. Neither does the Recommend this book to a friend feature–when I get recommendations from my Goodreads friends, I usually ignore it.

But if someone on one of my Goodreads groups posts in a discussion thread about a book they really enjoyed, then I’ll pay attention and sometimes buy the book based on their recommendation. Also, if I see in my update feed a friend who reviewed a book, I sometimes read the review if the book looks like a genre I enjoy, and I might buy the book based on their review.

I sometimes enter contests, but only for books I think I’ll read. I like entering contests for books from new-to-me authors, so that I can try the book. I don’t often buy books from authors I’ve never read before–usually I only read books from new-to-me authors if the ebook is free. I just don’t have the money to buy so many books, and these days, ebook bargains are pretty commonplace so I can always find a free book that looks interesting.

Well? How do you use Goodreads?

About Camy Tang/Camille Elliot

Camy writes romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance as USA Today bestselling author Camille Elliot. She is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of the Sunday worship teams. Visit her websites at and to read free short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.
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10 Responses to How do you use Goodreads? by Camy Tang

  1. Brittany says:

    Hey Camy! I know you and I both like Christian Fiction Devourers and their challenges! I definitely look at book reviews on Goodreads, but I also check on Amazon, too for reviews there. I only enter giveaways for books I know I want to read. Goodreads is always one of the sites I post my book reviews on. I do check the notifications, but frequently I don’t really care about whatever I am being notified of! But sometimes, seeing that someone commented on a certain post that interests me will make me realize I should go check it out.

    I have had a lot of fun in the past on the Christian Fiction Bloggers site playing some blogging/reviewing games like Book Cover Bingo and Book Scattergories. These have helped me whittle down my book stacks, just like the challenges. Plus, they are team games, so with each new team every few months, I “meet” a few new people and have fun chatting about the books we are reading. And just today our last category was called for Scattergories. It is Title with “k”. I realized that the book I am going to read will count toward the A-Z challenge AND New To Me Author Challenge in Christian Fiction Devourers. My inner book nerd got too excited about that, I must admit!

    Fun post!

    Brittany McEuen


  2. I also like the Christian Fiction Devourers group, both on Goodreads and on FB. I entered a few of the challenges on Goodreads. I use the shelves and have quite a few categories listed. There are a few other groups that I belong to but I rarely post to them. I do not pay a lot of attention to reviews and write very few myself because I really do not know what to say, other than give stars. I also rarely recommend a book I have read to anyone else. I did buy a couple of e-books just the past few days because of a review on the CBD FB page. My budget prefers that I borrow from the library so I do not buy many e-books, just a few LIS ones from Harlequin each month and now and then one or two from another source. I have answered one or two quizzes but generally do not even notice them.

    I rarely enter contests because most are only for U.S. readers and I am in Canada. I did just tonight though enter the one someone posted on CBD for ten books, although I am not sure what I would do with the Kindle should I win. My reader is a Sony.

    Beth – 😉


    • camytang says:

      Thanks for the input, Beth! Yes, I’ve had to restrict my contests to the US since the US Postal Service raised the rates for shipping international. 😦 Canada used to be only a couple bucks more than the US, but now it’s almost triple the cost! When I self-publish more, I’ll be able to open up contests to international since I can email an ebook anywhere. 🙂


  3. Becky Lee says:

    I mostly do the contests from authors I usually read. I have a list of books but it’s nowhere near a complete list.


  4. I use Goodreads to catalog my books, especially my Kindle books, I still have some physical books that I don’t have entered yet.

    I also like being able to track how many books I’ve read and I also set a goal, though this year I may not reach it. I’ve been involved with the Christian Fiction Bloggers group. The games have been fun.

    Sadly, I’ve not been following the updates of my friends, just too many of them and too many emails to get through to spend much time with them. I haven’t gotten many recommendations and I think the few I have received have been books that I was planning to read anyway.

    I’ve been able to connect with some new authors for interviews which has been fun.

    I tried to use Shelfari but I’ve found that Goodreads is just easier to use and fits my needs.

    But I am going to check out the other group you mentioned!!


    • camytang says:

      I hope you enjoy Christian Fiction Devourers! I like them a lot.

      Yeah, I detested Shelfari, I thought the website interface was TERRIBLE. Or maybe I just thought so since I’m from Silicon Valley and so I have higher expectations. 🙂

      If I didn’t already have my book cataloging program I’d probably use Goodreads to catalogue my books. Except I’d have problems with some of the digitized free ebooks I’ve downloaded from and Google Books.


  5. Amanda says:

    What I like most about Goodreads is keeping track of what I’ve read when, and (now that I’ve been a member for a few years) comparing how much I’ve read each year. Right around when I joined Goodreads I started making a conscious effort to read more, because I’m at my most miserable when I haven’t been reading or writing (they go hand in hand).

    I don’t use it to categorize my books, especially after the whole flap about Goodreads arbitrarily deleting people’s shelves without notice, and I’m not really involved in any groups – if I did I’d probably spend too much time scrolling to see what people are saying rather than actually reading.

    I do look at my updates feed though, because I’ve found interesting books through what my friends are looking at, and because it also gives me all the author blog updates in one neat stack rather than hunting down all their different websites. (I really like this feature; I’m not big on bouncing around blog sites)

    I’ll look at Goodreads reviews if I’m on the fence about a book, but it isn’t necessarily going to be a deciding factor unless someone has red-flagged something that’s an absolute “no” for me. I don’t buy a book simply because it has lots of rave reviews but if a friend (or a trusted reviewer that I’m following) posts a review saying the book has qualities I like I’ll give it a closer look. Same with the giveaways, I only pick books that actually interest me.

    Overall, I really do love the site, and of the similar ones I’ve seen Goodreads is the best.


  6. camytang says:

    Amanda, I didn’t think about that for the author blog feeds! That’s a good point!


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