There are a lot of very good things about Goodreads. In this entry I want to talk a little about entering books read in the past on one’s bookshelves. This feature allows a Goodreads user to catalogue a lifetime of reading on the site. Over the past year or so, I have been slowly, and at times not so slowly, adding books to my shelves that I have read over the years.
Engaging in this cataloging has gotten me thinking about books that I read in the past. I find myself remembering books that I read decades ago that I probably would never have given another thought about. When I first started doing this, I would easily recall books that I read in years gone by and then enter them into the site. I added scores of books. After I entered the easy books to recall, things became a little more challenging. I now search my memories to remember books. Sometimes I will remember a plot but not remember the title or author. I then began to Google search. Sometimes it takes me awhile but I will usually find the name of the book. A good example of this was Norman Spinrad’s Songs from the Stars. I remembered that I read it when I was 17 years old just before I started college. I also remembered that it was very lighthearted and involved a kind of hippie-utopia that existed in California long after the fall of civilization. I just could not remember the author or the title. It took me awhile, but I found it through internet searching and promptly added it to my Goodreads list. Sometimes when searching for a seemingly forgotten title, especially when poring over a particular author’s bibliography, I am reminded of other books that I read long ago. One case where this occurred is when I searched through Robert Silverberg’s bibliography in an attempt to find a particular book. I realized that I had read some other books of his. I now find myself waking up in the middle of the night and remembering a novel that I read long ago.
Goodreads also has an ongoing discussion thread called What's the Name of that Book? On this thread one can post a description of the book that one is looking for and others can chime in with ideas on what the title of the half-forgotten book is. Thus far, I only used the thread once but have not found the name of the book. However, looking at other people’s posts, it seems that the thread has worked for many in their quests to find book titles.
Several people that I know online have maintained reading journals going back years or even decades. In these journals, they record all of the books that they finished in past as well as when they finished them. I wish that I had the foresight to do this. Finish dates of books read would have been very valuable.
This brings me to the date-read feature on Goodreads. Using this option, one can enter the date he or she finished a book. Thus, if one remembers the date that one completed a book, one can enter it when they enter the book, even if the book was read years ago or decades ago. However, for me, determining the date that I completed most books is impossible, but there are a few titles for which I can come very close to determining when I finished reading them. There were a few books that I read almost immediately upon publication. This is true about some science fiction that came out in the 1980s. I mentioned Songs from The Stars above. I remember finishing the book shortly before I started my freshman year of college. Thus, I know that I completed that novel in July or August of 1985. It is neat that I can date a book like that. My Goodreads profile and bookshelves can be found here.
Goodreads seems to have a lot of other appealing features. There appears to be many forums where all sorts of interesting bookish conversations take place. Alas, I am unable to explore these forums due to a lack of time.
There are many social media platforms that people are using to enhance their love of books. Though I do not have statistics, I suspect that Goodreads is the most popular of these. I will continue to use Goodreads to catalogue the books that I have read. Without a doubt, I will also continue to remember books that I read a long time ago that would have otherwise have been lost in the mists of time.