I can barely keep up with Twitter and Facebook, so when I accepted a friend’s invitation to join Goodreads–a social media network dedicated to books–I did so with reluctance. For months I allowed my account to remain idle. Then I searched Audible for a good audiobook to download for the long drive to Montpelier, Vermont, for my final MFA residency. I almost clicked “purchase” on a particular book when I decided to do a web search for reviews. When I clicked on a Goodreads result, lo and behold my browser knew to open my account.
The reviews I saw were not only from strangers, like on Audible or Amazon, but people I knew and admired, including a lot of Vermont College of Fine Arts alums. Some of the reviews of the book I intended to purchase gently warned me away from it. I began perusing the reviews of other books in that genre, selected two I hadn’t been considering based on my peers’ reviews, and they were fantastic reads (well, “listens,” if that’s an appropriate use of the word).
I live my life like the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny jar. I had taken a couple of pennies and I knew I needed to give some back. So after the dust settled from my graduation residency I set about writing short reviews of some of the books I had read during my MFA program. Now I’m all in, continuing to post reviews as I read. Most recently I posted a review of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes (spoiler alert: I loved it).
I will confess, however, to not having fully explored Goodreads. It’s a bit overwhelming, frankly. All of these recommendations, people to follow, people following me. What I do know is that I won’t be using that feature where you tell your friends what page you are on in a certain book. I can’t imagine why anyone would care, but I don’t hold it against my friends who do provide such updates.
I still don’t know what I will make use of in Goodreads.
Do you use Goodreads? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, and any advice you have on how I can make the most of this social media service.
UPDATE 4 PM EDT, AUGUST 29, 2013: Thank you to the commenters who mentioned Goodreads giveaways. It appears there is an expectation that we review books we win, so I selected a handful of memoirs I’d be open to reading and reviewing and entered the contests. I did not choose to have the book be added to my to-read list; I wonder if that is a way the publishers/authors pare down the list of potential winners.