Tag Archives: GoodReads

Tracking My Monthly Reads with Goodreads

Goodreads

It really isn’t such a big surprise that I’ve been slacking off when it comes to tracking my monthly reads. I have these lovely reading spreadsheets, but they’re not much use unless I’m actually using them!

Last month I started keeping track of my reads by creating a folder for April reads on my  laptop and then saving jpgs of book covers into the folder every once in a while when I was creating a blog post, since I normally talk about my reading so I usually need to download book covers to go with a post.

At the end of the month when I was writing my monthly wrap-up post, I had to spend some time entering everything in that folder into my spreadsheets (I use two because they track different things and I’m not Google spreadsheet-savvy enough to merge the two spreadsheets into one). A bit time-consuming and I’m not looking forward to going through the process again when I write my May wrap-up post.

So it occurred to me the other day that Goodreads might be a better way for me to track my monthly reads. I haven’t exactly been diligent about updating my bookshelves there, but the thing is, the Goodreads iPhone app is easy to use and I’m thinking the increased accessibility will probably make it easier for me to track my monthly reads. I’m thinking about using bookshelves tagged with the month and year, and I can sort other bookshelves (like “audiobooks” and “POV characters and authors”) by date so I can see what my stats are like for each month.

I also decided to see how other people were using Goodreads. This post, Get Organized on Goodreads, gave me some good ideas (like temporarily hiding my activity from my update feed so I don’t flood my friends’ feeds with all my changes—definitely going to do that when I roll up my sleeves and wade in to get my shelves organized!).

And there was a Bloggiesta mini-challenge on How to Make Goodreads Work for You from The Book Addicts Guide back in 2013! Very interesting read, and I learned something very helpful: in addition to the three “exclusive” shelves Goodreads gives you (Read, To Read, Currently Reading), you can make other exclusive shelves. Not that this has anything to do with tracking my monthly reads, but I’d love to set up an exclusive shelf called “TBR-Books Owned” so I can keep track of what books are on my to-read list that I actually own. That way, I can use the “To Read” shelf as my Wishlist.

I seem to go through phases with Goodreads, sometimes being very diligent about updating my currently reading progress, and sometimes not bothering to even add a current read. My Read shelf should hold so many more books than it currently holds. But it’s definitely an easy way for me to track my monthly reads, so come June, I’m going to get those shelves organized and start tracking my June reads!

How are you using Goodreads right now?

A Magical (Reading and Writing) Turning Point

Today I’m marveling at how rapidly kids change. I swear, sometimes these changes take place overnight, and they can be quite amazing.

Back in March of this year, I set up a GoodReads account for my son Dylan. He was seven at the time (he recently turned eight), and since we’re homeschooling him and books play a very large role in his education, I decided to set up an account specifically to track his reading progress and have a record of the books he’s been reading. I love that I can take a look at the stats and see that, since that first week in March, we’ve read at least 136 books together, either me reading to him, or him reading to me.

In addition to chapter books, we read a ton of picture books, because the vocabulary in picture books can be quite advanced, and they are far more interesting than early readers and chapter books. Dylan likes to draw, and he’s always fascinated by how the artists created the pictures, too.

After we started using the site for a while, it occurred to me I could add another educational element to the whole process by having Dylan review one book a night. So now he “writes” the reviews by dictating them to me; I type in everything word for word (into my iPhone, since we usually do this at night, during our bedtime reading), exactly as he dictates (sometimes he’ll ask me to put in things like question marks and exclamation marks). Eventually, I’m hoping to eliminate the dictation-to-me part.

Up until a few weeks ago, it’s been a little like pulling teeth, or rather, reviews, out of him. I use two prompts to get him going: “This story/book is about …” and “My favorite part is …”

Here’s a sample of one of his earlier reviews:

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Piggies in the Kitchen, by Michelle Meadows.

“This story is about pigs in the kitchen. They are making cakes because it’s their mama’s birthday. Mama doesn’t know because no-one told her. It was a surprise. My favorite part was on the back cover. A pig with a slingshot! And he has an egg on the slingshot.”

Fast forward to last month, and you’ll see the tone is pretty much the same:

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Geronimo Stilton: The Secret of the Sphinx.

“This book is about Geronimo Stilton. He goes into ancient Egypt because the pirate cats strike again. The pirate cats want to change the Sphinx’s face into a cat. My favorite part was when they finally got home because Trap is so funny about eating cheese.”

And then something happened. Somewhere, something went “click”, and things changed. It was a big change.

We picked up Chalk, by Bill Thomson (a beautifully illustrated wordless picture book) from the library early last week. Here is Dylan’s review of the book:

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“This story is about chalk, not just any ordinary chalk, magical chalk. Do you have any of that kind of chalk? Well, this magical chalk, when you draw a picture with that magical chalk, any picture you like, be careful, don’t draw a dinosaur or a dragon, because these pictures come to life. And don’t draw a shark either. Here is why you shouldn’t draw any dangerous creatures. Would you want a dinosaur to bite you? Do you want the dragon to breathe fire at you? And if you want this magical chalk, the only way to get it is DREAM about it. And when you wake up when you go downstairs, pretend that you’re in a new world and adventures.”

(Yes, he asked me to capitalize “dream”. For emphasis, he said.)

It really blew me away. I thought to myself, maybe this is a fluke. After all, a wordless picture book often invites children to put their own words to the pictures.

But I was wrong. It wasn’t a fluke. It turns out, reading and then writing his review of Chalk was a major turning point for Dylan.

Here is his most recent review:

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Cool Crazy Crickets to the Rescue, by David Elliott.

“This book is about the Cool Crazy Crickets to the rescue. I’m not talking about the crickets the insects, it’s the Cool Crazy Crickets club. But seriously it’s actually kids running the club and I hope it doesn’t foil your excitement. There’s a one-eyed cat in the book. I don’t know why it only has one eye. The book doesn’t tell you. The clubhouse is made up of cardboard. You think it’s in their house? No way. They can go inside, opening doors, windows, you name it.

My favorite part is Teddy. They have to baby sit for Teddy to earn money. It’s my favorite part because it’s so funny. And there’s one more thing, folks. Guess who Teddy is? Is he a teddy bear? No. Is he a baby? Yes. You should hear him cry.”

I’m not sure how it all happened, but it’s really wonderful. And he actually decided to read more than the chapter a day we’d been doing with the Cool Crazy Crickets to the Rescue book, just so he could write the review!

I think Dylan’s found his “voice” … Yes, it’s an eight-year-old’s voice, but then again, he IS, after all, an eight year old!

Wednesday Fun: More GoodReads

imageI know. I just talked about GoodReads here last week. But when I wrote last week’s post, I was still doing a lot of stumbling around the site, becoming more and more aware of its potential.

I’ve had such a good time since then, discovering all the things I can do there. So I thought it would make a great Wednesday Fun post!

Here are some of my discoveries:

Giving credit for book recommendations. A big thank you to Care who shared this tip: if she’s discovered a book as a result of a blog review, she pastes the url of the review into either the private notes section or right into the reviews box, so that later, when she’s ready to write her own review, she can easily give credit for the recommendation.

I’ve tried several different methods in the past to keep track of how a book ended up on my to-read list so I can refer back to the other blogger’s review when I’m writing my own review. None of these methods have been very successful, but I think using GoodReads to do this has a lot of potential.

Posting reviews directly to your blog. You can set your account up so each review you write, you have the option to post the review directly to your blog. (This only works for WordPress.com, Blogger and self-hosted WordPress blogs.)

I have mine set to post each review as a draft; you also choose whether or not to post each specific GoodReads review to your blog. What I’ve decided to do is write short reviews on GoodReads that are more about my impressions of the book, and then later, when I’m ready to post the review here, I flesh these impressions out more formally. It’s a handy way of saving my thoughts about a book.

Yesterday’s review of Blood Oath, by Christopher Farnsworth, was my test post – I wrote a shorter version on GoodReads, then expanded on it in the blog post here. I think it worked pretty well, and I’m very excited about this. I think it means I’ll end up blogging more reviews here!

The GoodReads iPhone app. I find myself going to the GoodReads iPhone app several times a day – as often as I check out Facebook, actually. (And GoodReads feels a lot to me like a Facebook for booklovers.) I really like finding new books that others have either just reviewed, or added to their to-read lists, and adding them to my own to-read list.

It’s really handy, too, because now I’m always carrying around an up-to-date wish list, for those unexpected jaunts (I know you do them, too) to the bookstore or the library.

Groups of booklovers. There are a lot of groups at GoodReads, most of them genre-based. I’ve signed up for the ones in the genres I’m interested in. I haven’t participated yet, but they look like so much fun, and I’m hoping to get some good book recommendations from them, and a heads up about new releases, too.

And for writers, there are also quite a few writing groups! I’ve joined one so far, and another one I took a peek at looked pretty good, with information about writing contests and other resources.

I’m currently reading … I like to have several books on the go at once, and I’ve been discovering it’s really fun to pop into my GoodReads iPhone app and say what I’m currently reading. One problem I do have is with epubs, though – I do a lot of ebook reading, and epubs don’t give you page numbers, so I can’t do the “on page XX of” thing.

The other problem is that I’m a moody reader, so I don’t finish a lot of books I start. But they’re not DNFs (did not finish) for me, because when I put them down, I do have every intention of picking them up again. I’m just never sure when – it could be a year from now. But I think I’ve figured out a workaround for this. I’m going to create a shelf for Back to To-Read Status, or Waiting for Me to Pick Up Again, or something like that, so my “currently reading” list doesn’t become too unwieldy.

My children’s book blog. Last summer, I set up Learn Play Fun; I wanted it to be a place where I could write about the books and activities Dylan (my seven-year-old) and I are doing together. Our focus is on learning through play and having fun.

Unfortunately, I haven’t posted a lot there. But I do want to – it’s a great way to keep a record of these homeschooling years of ours.

So I had a bit of a brainstorm the other day: I created a LearnPlayFun account at GoodReads! This will be our account to keep track of all the books we’re reading. And now, after I read a book to him, or he reads a book to me, Dylan gives me his thoughts about the book (I ask him “What was the story about?” and then “what did you like about the book?” as thinking prompts). I write down his words (exactly as he says them, no editing); he loves reading over “what he wrote” when we’re done, and later on, I slip them into our review of the book.

It’s easy, and it’s fun. Two of my favorite words.

So those are my discoveries so far! One thing’s for sure: every time I visit GoodReads, I discover something new; usually, a book to add to my to-read list.

(My TBR stacks are groaning, though …)

Using GoodReads

GoodReadsLast November, I joined GoodReads. I know this mainly because I was roaming around online (doing that procrastination thing, you know), came across a link to GoodReads, clicked, realized I had an account and signed in again. And at the top of the page, it tells me I joined in November.

Which is all a roundabout way of telling you I haven’t done anything at all with my GoodReads membership. Kind of makes sense, because I signed up back when I was heavily in the midst of deadlines, so I really didn’t have the time to get to know the site and start using it.

I have the time now. So I’ve been browsing around the site, and it looks really really interesting. But it’s kind of overwhelming. I’ve looked through the site itself a bit, and did a bit of googling about it as well, but I’m still not sure how to use it.

It does look like a fantastic place to chat about books.

I’ve been toying around with getting one of the iPhone apps that let me build a library database (complete with scanning using the iPhone camera), and both of the apps I’m thinking about would let me export the database in csv format, so I would be able to upload my file to GoodReads. That might be handy.

And I think I might start using the feature that lets me post a GoodReads review I write directly here to MsBookish. That wouldn’t be bad at all, either.

There’s also the GoodReads iPhone app itself to check out.

All you active GoodReads users, any tips for a newbie to the site? (Almost forgot: here’s my profile page. Please do friend me!)