Thursday, July 27, 2017

How I organise my books on Goodreads

I should start this post with this little tidbit: I am unnaturally obsessed with Goodreads. Actually, I am obsessed with organising things that don't need organising, and that just happens to include all of my books and shelves on Goodreads.

When I shared some posts I had no intention of publishing, a few people mentioned they'd like to read this. Since I already had it written, I figured why not.... 8 months later.

However - if you don't like books, Goodreads, obsessively organising things, you should definitely skedaddle.

Basically, I use Goodreads for 2 main reasons:

1. To keep track of what I have read.
2. To keep track of what I want to read.

When you join Goodreads, you get a few default shelves:

I think you also get a favourites shelf, but I deleted that.

Looking at those, it should satisfy what I want to use Goodreads for... but I want to know more. I want to know how I read a book, how I got the book, what I have sitting at home that I should really read next, what I have sitting on the kindle (out of sight out of mind has never been more true) etc etc. Also, I am ashamed to admit it but I have bought books I already owned (several times) because I didn't remember I'd already bought it. I will also forget netgalley books if I get caught up in other books.

So I added a bunch of shelves.

The top 9 shelves are 'exclusives'. Meaning a book on one of these shelves can only be on one shelf. You can't 'want to read' a book you've already read. You can even add your own exclusive shelf; the most common is something like a DNF or not interested shelf. These won't count towards books you've read, and you won't accidentally add it to your read list.

Here are some shelving tips from Goodreads - you can view these when you edit your shelves.

Exclusive: the book can be on only one of these shelves.
This is how I keep track of the what to read next conundrum - it keeps my library list organised, not to mention my netgalley list - both of these can get out of control if I'm not careful. It also - hypothetically - stops me buying a book I already own.

read: self explanatory.
currently reading: also pretty obvious.
to-read: these are books I want to read but don't own or haven't gotten from the library. This is where they go when I read a SUYB recommendation until I physically have it in my hands/on my kindle.
dnf: a book I gave up on and have no desire to ever pick up. Yes, I should have more. I am horrible at giving up on books.
tbr-arcs: these are my blogging for books or netgalley books that I need to read.
tbr-audio: these are audiobooks I've purchased and are sitting in my audible account.
tbr-ku: kindle unlimited books.
tbr-library: these are obviously all my library books - both real and ebooks.
tbr-own: all the books I've purchased and aren't going anywhere or don't require reviews to be written. These are both real and ebook format as well.

If you want to make an exclusive shelf, you go into 'edit my shelves' and tick exclusive. See below.

Not Exclusive: the book can be on multiple shelves.
This is how I keep track of the how part of everything. How I got it, how I read it, what for, etc etc. These shelves include everything - read and unread.

arcs: these are mainly netgalley books with a couple from blogging for books.
audiobooks: books I read with my ears.
botm: I just started book of the month after hearing about it from Steph.
e-books: kindle books or books I read on the computer.
erin-challenge: I just started doing a shelf for challenges and it makes things so simple! I just change the number when a new challenge starts, and remove the previous challenge books when it's over.
kindle-unlimited: I go back and forth with kindle unlimited books, I start and cancel it a few times a year, but I still track them. These are technically 'purchased' books as well, but I don't mark them as such because 'kindle-unlimited' implies that I paid money (subscription) for them.
library: All books I have read (or are sitting at home) from the library. I only joined late last year, pretty good!
purchased-2015-prior: I want to keep track of books I haven't read and how long they've been sitting there waiting to be read. So I created these. Some of them I couldn't remember when I bought them, so I just lumped them all together here.
purchased-2016: I did start keeping track in 2016 though and ouch, that's a lot of books. This includes audible credits as well.
purchased-2017: and books I've bought this year. The purchased thing is the only thing I'm not sure about because I track anything I 'buy' even if it doesn't actually cost me any money, like amazon freebies. I know that seems weird. But I want to see how often I choose a book I don't own already and won't get to return, if that makes sense. Perhaps I should make a 'free' shelf.
real-books: paperback or hardback.

You can see how they are separated, exclusives vs normal when you click on 'my books' up the top.

Recording re-reads with Goodreads:

I used to track every time I re-read a book because I wanted it to count towards my yearly challenge, but also because I wanted to know how often I re-read books (oh! I should create a re-read shelf, right?!). I used to do this a complicated way by choosing a different edition, so I would have duplicates on my shelves. However, now goodreads lets you add multiple reads, which is fabulous.

One more thing I love about Goodreads:

Last year when I did my 'best of 2016' and included all my stats (who doesn't love statistics?! am I right?) I used Goodreads to help me get that information. Goodreads doesn't give me all that information, but you can download an excel and extrapolate it yourself. Have I lost everybody with that?

When you click on 'my books' and scroll down, you'll see tools.

Stats takes you to this page, and you can view your stats by year. As you can see, the little graph on the side shows you how your reading is split by your shelves. Because I use so many shelves for different reasons, the graph doesn't really work for me.

Import/Export takes you to where you can get an excel spreadsheet of your entire library. That's what I do. You click on 'Export Library', give it a few and then when it says 'Your export from whenever' click on that, an excel spreadsheet downloads.

I will stop there because otherwise this will get even longer, but basically I just delete everything from the excel spreadsheet except for the books I read in that year and then I sort by shelves and calculate the percentages. I'm not weird! It's fine!

So. This all sounds insanely complicated, but it really isn't. To recap on how I organise my shelves:

- I want to read a book, I add it to my 'to read' shelf.
- I buy a book, I mark it as 'tbr-own', 'tbr-ku' or 'tbr-audio' depending on what it is, and then I mark it as 'real-books', 'e-books' or 'audiobooks'.
- I get approved for an ARC and I mark it as 'tbr-arcs' and (most often) 'ebooks'.
- I get a book from the library or an ebook comes in - I mark it as 'tbr-library' and 'ebooks or real books'. I do not mark them until I have actually picked them up or downloaded them to my ebook. If I don't read a book in time before I have to return it, I remove it from those shelves.

Here's a look at a few books and how I mark them for whatever they are:

I was going to add a shelf called 'Show Us Your Books Recs' or 'Blogger Recs' because sometimes I go through my shelves and think how the heck did this book get here and then I delete it if it doesn't sound good which is sad because I obviously added it for a reason. That being said, if I did have a shelf like that, I would basically add all of my books to that shelf because I get like 90% off my recommendations from other bloggers, and mainly from the link up.

It might seem a little extreme to be this organised in reading books, but I love it. Sometimes I spend hours organising Goodreads instead of, you know, reading.

Is there anyone else out there that loves to organise books on Goodreads? Or is this one of those things where everyone is looking at me like I'm crazy....?


  1. I'm obsessed with Goodreads too, but didn't know about most of these details! I'm definitely going to create a shelf for my NetGalley reads (I have so many I need to catch up on, and that sounds like a great way to keep track), and for my "Didn't finish" books too... at the moment it looks like I'm "currently reading" about 10 books because there are a bunch I didn't finish (but may pick up again in the future...).

    1. You can actually put those books back into the to be read shelf and it saves your progress if you updated along the way.

  2. "audiobooks: books I read with my ears." << my new description. Thank you.

    Part of me would love to do something like this, but I know I'd never keep up with it. I'd get bogged down in the details and forget for a while then feel guilt and would have to reorganize, so I'll just use my default few books. I do have a WW2 shelf though. I also have shelves for Erin's Challenge. If you create a list through the Challenge page, it will actually track your books as a goal, along side your yearly goal, which I like.. because achieving goals is good for me.

  3. This is so cool. See the problem for me is I read a toooon (hundreds) of books and did my literature major (before I did law) well before I joined goodreads. So everytime I go on goodreads its me trying to add past books and I get overwhelmed trying to play catch up. So I gave up. This may have given me my motivation to go organize my shelves because lord knows I love folders and organizing ... you should see my email inbox. lol THANKS for this Kris

  4. I had no idea that you could have other exclusive shelves! I think that I see myself making my SUYB rec shelf exclusive because sometimes I wonder how in the world a certain book actually got on my list in the first place too. I also love that you have your Netgalley list and then a TBR Netgalley list as well. That would be so helpful when trying to figure out how many books I still need to read for Netgalley, which unfortunately is a ton! I'm glad that you decided to share how you keep all of your book reading organized!

  5. Sooooo I think I have two books and then one for kid books. LOL. I had no clue you could export reports into excel and shit. Way too fancy for me! Though that would have come in handy for when I did my best of post. I had to go back through all my book posts for the year to figure that out.

  6. I so need to do this. I've started not adding books that I want to add, but I'm embarrassed of the number in my to-read shelf. If I break it down into more shelves (many not quite as many as you), I might be more willing to add books I want to read. Thanks for this!

  7. The exclusive DNF shelf was such a game changer! I have a google docs spreadsheet that I've been using to track other stats not on goodreads, but I had no idea you could export/import your shelves-- that sounds awesome. I also like the idea of shelves based on when you purchased a book- that would definitely be helpful to look back on what's been on the tbr (that you own) for a really long time.

  8. Okay, so I'm probably the only person who regularly joins the SUYB link-up and is not on Goodreads. And mainly it's because I'm lazy. :D But ... after seeing this, perhaps I'm just being silly. It would keep things a bit more organized. :D And I have also bought books that I've read/own because they changed the stupid cover and made it look like it was a new release when it was a re-release of a very old book. Grrrrrr!!! I also forget why I put a book on my TBR sometimes and I hate that because like you said, we obviously wanted to read it but why? :D

  9. I kind of love this. I don't have that many shelves for Goodreads. I have some from previous challenges, so I really need to go in and edit those or change the dates or something. But all in all, it's mostly just read Read or To-Read. I like that you keep track of ones you own though - I should do that since I have SO many.


  10. I love how organized you are with goodreads! I keep adding and removing books from my TBR but I haven't broken things down by where the books come from. I really like the best of feature where you get to see the year in review.

  11. This post was enormously helpful! I first opened up the post because I'm nerdy and love hearing about how other people organize their reading life, but it turned out that I learned a TON---I've been using Goodreads for years, but I had no idea it had all these features!

    Thanks so much for sharing :)

  12. I am also unnaturally obsessed with GoodReads, though I haven't used it much lately because I just haven't been reading as much 😢 I had no idea about "exclusive" shelves. I need to go create a DNF shelf right now!

  13. Ok. I love this because I love lists and organization. How did I not know about all this?? (Especially exclusive shelves!)
    "audiobooks: books I read with my ears" - hahahaha!
    I'm definitely stealing (borrowing?) some ideas from you!! A SUYB rec category is a good idea. I often wonder how books got on my list... lol.
    (And I organize so many silly things! Spotify, Pinterest, Goodreads...)

  14. I love this! Especially the explanation and "how-to" of the exclusive shelves! I made a DNF shelf not too long ago, but I didn't know about the exclusive option, so they're marked as either tbr or read and dnf. Going to change that now! I don't think I need as many shelves as you have because I don't use audiobooks and only own like 20 books, but I appreciate your level of organization!

  15. This is awesome! I need to utilize the shelves more, especially with the books I own so I can get to those faster. I've only added "giveaways" and "DNF" to my default shelves. I love the erin-challenge idea!

  16. Whoa...I am impressed with your organizational methods here! But I am also on the same page as Megan up there ^^. I'm not ready to take on something new that I have to keep up with, and I also don't read nearly as much with you so I don't accidentally re-purchase something I already read! LOL! But this was still a great read just in case one day I decide to get on board with goodreads!

  17. Ok, so I have Goodreads, but I hardly ever use it. I know, sad, right? But all of this organization makes me want to use it more. I'm so jealous of you people and your organizational skills. Please come organize my stuff for me.

  18. My OCD just loves this so very much! Meanwhile I just have books I read in a note on my phone and books I want to read on an Amazon wishlist. Lol

  19. Of course I love this so much. I did not know about exclusive shelves. I immediately went over to goodreads to do that for my dnf books.

  20. Goodreads is amazing; I love that site. My fav thing to do once a week is peruse the feed, see who's reading what, read the review and if it sounds good, then I queue that up at my library.

    Also, I found out about 'exclusive' shelves like, a month ago and thank god for that because it drove me nuts when I would mark a book as "DNF" yet it was also marked as "read".

  21. I had no idea I could make a new exclusive shelf for a DNF! I have been putting a comment under them that I didn't read them, leaving it up for a day or two, an then deleting the book completely. I never buy books, but I love Goodreads since I can link it to Overdrive (at two libraries!) and know what to bookmark or add to my hold list there.

  22. This is great! I have been in a non-reading-slumplike thing this month, but I am very obsessed with goodreads. I currently use my shelves mostly to divide by genre, but I think having a "owned-physical" "owned-ebook" and "netgalley" would help me... probably a lot. It would also be wise to make one for yearly purchases, ahem, book ban. Thanks for sharing!! XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  23. This was interesting to read!

    I try to track the version of the book I read in my SUYB posts and where I got it, but some of the e-books I have a harder time doing that.

  24. Thank you so much for this! I love Goodreads and had no idea you could customize it to your liking. How helpful!

  25. Wow! I love how you organized this. I never would have thought to but all my unread and sitting at home books on shelves this way. I know what I'm organizing next!

  26. You are crazy and I love it! I want to do more with shelves on GR and had no idea you could do this much! I'm inspired.

  27. I love this post! I knew a lot of this and I love the exclusive shelves. I have one called paused for books I started but had to return to the lib or wasn't in the mood for. I also have the dnf shelf in exclusives and a children's book shelf in exclusive so they don't count towards my reading challenge. I didn't know about exporting your shelf though... I have been spending way too much time switching through tabs doing that! Love following you on Goodreads obviously... You're my bookish kindred spirit :)

  28. For as fast as you read I think being this organized is a good thing. Mine is organized to (for me) and I started condensing my tags as well.


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