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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

At the start of this year, I decided to create an account with Goodreads. I also signed up for the 2021 Reading Challenge on their website. Back in January, a few of my friends had accounts already and were pledging fifty or so books for the year, so I decided to sign up too! I chose to read 25 books this year, a stretch for someone who hadn’t read for pleasure in years before this spring. Twenty-five books require a pace of a book about every two weeks to meet my goal. As of now, I’m fourteen books in and a little over halfway done. I love what Goodreads has done for my reading habits and will tell anyone who listens that it is my preferred form of social media. If you don’t have one already, I absolutely recommend making a Goodreads account and signing up for the challenge. Although it’s only September, and the new year is months away, the fall semester is a perfect time to start getting back into reading. Follow the link here to see a list of fall’s most anticipated releases, according to Goodreads.

I was an avid reader as a child, but at the start of 2021, I hadn’t read for fun in many years. I could never find books I was excited to crack open. And I ended up reading material I thought I should read rather than novels I was genuinely interested in. The Goodreads Choice Awards is “the only major book awards decided by readers” that creates a very different (and more engaging) list of recommendations. While many people swear by the New York Times bestseller list, I’ve frequently felt it is not designed for most readers. The books can be highly technical and tend to ignore genres such as fantasy and romance, favoring non-fiction and mystery or thriller novels. Over the last seven months, the Goodreads “Recommendations for You” feature and Choice Awards page shocked me with their ability to find works that appeal to my interests. To put it in perspective, the accuracy and specificity of their suggestions rival my Spotify Discover Weekly. 

“the only major book awards decided by readers”

Goodreads Choice Awards, 2020

I enjoy many of the Goodreads features, but one of my favorites is the update feed, where you can see what your friends are reading, post comments, and read and write reviews. I get most of my recommendations for new books from here. It is a great way to stay connected to out-of-state friends and less instantaneous than texts or FaceTime calls. Another key aspect of Goodreads is the ability to shelve books as “read,” “currently reading,” or “to read.” This way, users can save the books they’ve already read, track page progress on the ones they’re working on, and mark those they’d like to start. I adore my update feed page and add almost everything I see there to my “to read” shelf.

A few of the books I’ve read this year include Circe by Madeline Miller, The Secret History by Donna Tarte, and a nostalgic re-read of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. The site allows you to attach dates to your books, so you can include re-reads of your favorite novels. At the moment, I am working on Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, The Fragments of Heraclitus, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Goodreads links multiple editions for most books so you can distinguish between paperback and hardback copies, translations, and different page counts. For my reading status on Rebecca, I was able to pick from ten editions to find the one with the same page count and publishing date as my copy. 

The app and website are completely free, by the way, and usually include previews so you can try them before handing over your wallet to Barnes and Noble. Most profits are made through advertisements for publishing houses, authors, and services like Prime Reading. However, they do not detract from the site. Goodreads is owned by Amazon. But nothing good comes without sacrifice, and this is totally worth funding Bezos’ phallometric contest with the moon. Goodreads has completely changed my outlook on reading for pleasure by making it an engaging and social experience. Even aside from the annual challenge, using the site has increased my desire to get new books. Sometimes I read so I don’t fall woefully behind my speed-reading friends. But most of my progress is because I’ve been able to find books I am truly excited to read. Goodreads is the perfect sidekick for every reader and my fave.

Sabrina is an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University majoring in Applied Mathematical Sciences with an emphasis in economics. She is an avid reader and painter, and is passionate about helping the underprivileged. When she's not in class, she enjoys drinking coffee, buying plants, and cultivating her Spotify playlists.
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