The Best Way to Use Online Bookshelves (like Goodreads)

A lot of my friends won’t sign up to the great world of book social networking because of the outdated and complex ways the sites are run. I can confidently say, after joining Goodreads in 2013, I’ve navigated the do’s and don’ts of virtual bookshelves!

DO: Create Book Shelves You’d Actually Use

Some of my online GR friends have a thousand different shelves. That’s great, if it works for them. For me, that’s waaay too many. How would I keep them up-to-date? I need clear and concise shelves that I would definitely use at least once a month. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 8.18.47 pm
Exhibit A


DON’T: Make Shelves for Every Series

When I scavenge other people’s profiles, one of the biggest turn-offs is when somebody has “10,000+ books shelved” due to multiple listings of books. This most popularly happens when people group every single series, even if it’s a duology! It’s pointless. Goodreads has already organised the series for you, there’s no reason you can’t just click into the author’s profile to see the order and other information. 

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 8.19.50 pm
Exhibit B: A Hot Mess


DO: Learn the Basic HTML Codes

This is more for fun if you’re a frequent reviewer/interacter (on polls, groups and general statuses/comments) on the social network (i.e. Goodreads, Bookstr, or LibraryThing). I didn’t start properly reviewing (as in, with a decent length and reflection) until 2015. Mainly because I couldn’t figure out how to code anything, like GIFs (which are my favourite thing from other people’s reviews).


Here’s my cheat sheet that I keep in my Notes.

It’s a handy trick so I can just copy and paste it into my discussions in seconds, without stuffing it up (we’ve all made rookie mistakes not closing the brackets).

(I’ve added spaces next to the first and final <, backspace if you want to copy):

Read more bookish goodness on my book blog: < a href=“”>Cal’s Constant Raving Reviews< /a>

< b>< /b>

< i>< /i>

< blockquote>< /blockquote>

< spoiler>< /spoiler>

< s>< i>< /i>< /s>

For GIFS: < img src=”…&#8221; width=”400″ height=”100″ alt=”description”/ >

For reviewing format, check out my post: Reviewing Style.


DON’T: Compulsively Add EVERY Book You See to Your TBR

When I first joined, my TBR grew to 500. That’s insane. I was 13. I read probably 4 books each year, if I was bothered (Spoiler: I got glasses later in 2013 and boom. Books = life). You’ll never know what you actually want to read when you just add everything you seem slightly interested in. Make sure you study the author and the synopsis. Is it something you’d actually pay for or find at your library? If it’s no: no matter how hyped it is: DO. NOT. ADD. IT.

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 8.21.19 pm
Good luck with your 1431 TBR pile.


DO: Update Your Shelves

Do you have a shelf that was for your birthday two years ago, and you’ve read all those books by now? DELETE THE SHELF. Or just the books you have read, and add any new ones. Then send it to your family and friends… mwahahahaha.


Here’s a look at my shelves:

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 8.15.11 pm
Okay, I could probably update mine a little more.


Are you guilty of any of these habits? Or are you somebody that dislikes virtual shelves altogether?

Author: Cal's Reading Corner

HSIE teacher from Sydney, Australia.

7 thoughts on “The Best Way to Use Online Bookshelves (like Goodreads)”

  1. Great advice, I noticed recently that I’m not using Goodreads as much as I used to, just to check out some book summaries and ratings mostly…but I do keep a shelve for what I’m reading month to month…and it is helpful to keep things in order…


  2. I’m the same, I need nice clear shelves- so apart from two different reading lists, I keep to the simple shelves that GR already has. As for tbr, I went wild when I first got GR too- and cos I’ve never slimmed it down, I still have 300 on there, even though I’m getting better at not adding things- I just need to take some things off there now! Great post!!


  3. i’m too lazy to have anything besides my read, to read, currently reading, and netgalley shelves lol


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