I’ve wanted to be a part of a reading group since I was a little kid. There is something about the shared experience of a book that I really miss about school. Everyone is immersed in the same story. You can talk about what is going on, what you felt, what you think is happening. Its a pretty interesting way to get close to a group of people.
Unfortunately, my area of North Carolina didn’t have a strong library, a good bookstore, or (most of the time) people who gave any kind of a second glance to books. The move to Texas gave me the amazing library and cheap bookstores but I lacked any kind of social skills or connections to find out about book clubs. (BookPeople in Austin has book clubs but I don’t want to do it so badly that I drive an hour to one….)
Enter GoodReads. An online community of people who love to read. It can’t get any better than that. The bonus part is you can even take it with you with their iPhone app.
I’ve joined several groups so far. Discussion of the books can sometimes be limited by the number of people who are actually reading the book or who have read it recently enough that they can give their opinions about it. Discussion doesn’t get too intense, which is a definitely a downfall. You the “I loved it because….” or “I hated it because….” and every once in a while can get something a little more deep out of people. You actually have to ask the questions though.
My favorite is the reviews. There are some amazing reviews on this website. People who read and like to think about what they have read. Besides there being a written review, those of us who seem to be short on time or patience can simply do a starred review. On the main book page, all the reviews are averaged. My personal findings, good books that are worth reading usually get over 3.7 stars. Amazing books have over 4. I will literally stand in the book store and go over reviews of books that I haven’t heard of.
Listopia is an interesting addition to the website. People are able to make lists of books that they believe fit a certain theme. (Some of the one’s I’m seeing as I scroll are “Greatest Love Story,” “Best YA Trioloy,” and “Curly Haired Heroines.”) Then, other GoodReads users can vote on them, add books to them, and review them. Surprisingly, I’ve had a lot of luck finding other books to read by purusing lists that held books I loved.
For those of us who are slightly OCD, the shelving feature is a godsend. You can organize the books you have marked into as many different categories as you please. You can shelf all the books you read last year on one shelf for easy reference. You divide the books into any array you want for any purpose. Personally, I love being able to look back and see what I finished when. (It even tracks your “marked as complete” date!)
The last the the internet needs is another social networking site. I just can’t help but love one centered around books!