How Goodreads Changed My Reading Habits

Goodreads is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, but somehow I was super, super late to the game and only joined Goodreads in January. Fortunately I was already tracking my reading for 2015 and 2016 in a notebook, so I was able to input all of that data and take a look at my reading habits when I finally joined. Seeing everything laid out in numbers has dramatically changed what and how much I read as well as how I organize books I want to read.

The thing I noticed immediately was that I was well within reach of reading 100 books, a number I had heard booktubers and book bloggers mention in their year end wrap ups but that seemed magical and unattainable for me. As it turns out, I read 82 books in 2015 and 77 in 2016, which is already a pretty substantial number and made me feel comfortable about making 100 books my reading goal for 2017.

I know a lot of people mention that setting too high of a Goodreads goal has led them to feel pressured into reading shorter books and graphic novels in order to reach their goal, and I completely understand where they’re coming from (and generally think page or word count is a better measure of reading volume than book count). But for me, it’s helped me become more aware of what I do with my free time. Rather than watching TV shows I don’t love or surfing the internet, I’ve instead been picking up a book. I’ll admit I’ve become a bit obsessive about my reading now that I’m tracking it and have probably gone too far (I’m sure my husband wishes I read just a little bit less), but the result is that I reached my Goodreads goal in August! While I can chill out a bit about pushing myself to read so much, overall I’m spending my time in a way I enjoy much more, and I’m not sure that I would be if it weren’t for Goodreads.

The other realization I had when I entered all of my data into Goodreads and took a good look is that I read almost exclusively white authors. In fact, I only read two books in 2016 by authors of color, and one of those was a coffee table book. Most of the books I read are by women, which is awesome, and the books do extend across a number of genres and characters and settings, but they’re still not diverse in terms of who wrote them, and that’s something I find unacceptable now that I’m aware of it.

I immediately made it a point to increase the number of books I read by authors of color, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve read nearly 10 times as many books by authors of color so far this year. Before I start bragging too much, though, let me point out that that means only 19 out of 111 books that I’ve read so far this year, or 17 percent, were written by authors of color. It’s certainly a massive improvement over 2016 (when my percentage was 2.6 percent), but it’s definitely a ratio I want to and can improve on moving forward.

Entering all of my books into Goodreads has also helped me better track what I want to read. I was previously using a series of Amazon wishlists to organize and track the books I want to read, and while there are things I miss about that system, switching to Goodreads has helped me connect more with other bloggers whose opinion I trust and better evaluate the books I’m interested in reading. It’s really nice to click on a book in my TBR list and immediately see what my friends thought of it.

My only regret about joining Goodreads is that I didn’t do it years ago. Think of all of that data I could have been tracking! It kills me a little to know that had I joined Goodreads when it launched, or even when I went to college in 2010, I would have years of data to look back at and analyze. I’d be able to easily see what books I’ve read and when and what I thought of them if I chose to star them (I don’t anymore, but that’s a story for another day). It’s such a missed opportunity, but better late than never, as they say. If I stick with it (which I suspect I will), I’ll at least have tons of data to look back on in another 10 to 15 years or so. It will be so fascinating to see how my reading evolves over time!

When did you join Goodreads? Has it changed your reading habits at all? Or do you prefer a different method of tracking or not tracking at all? Let me know in the comments!

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