2011: 334 Books or A Reader's Year in Review

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As a reader, 2011 was the year I totally rocked Goodreads.  A social network comprised of readers, Goodreads provides one stop shopping for customized lists based on my tastes (their suggestion algorithm is better than Amazon.com for me), for reliable reader reviews, and for accurate lists of series, including the prequels and interbook novellas that need to be read in the right order.  Yes, you can have friends and network just like any other social network, but for me it's more important to have the above key needs met when I'm choosing what to read next.  Oh.  One other thing.  Did I mention the data?

*Cue Hallelujah chorus here!!*

That's right - DATA.  Librarians live for data.  Did you know know that?  Did you think we were all cat's eyeglasses-wearing, shushy frowners in cardigans?  You are sadly mistaken.  Librarians are information professionals and we heart data in all its forms, particularly when it informs us of our patron's needs and helps us understand our libraries better. 

I find my love affair with data is part of my personal life as well.  Because of my profession, I follow numerous blogs, read several professional journals a week, and get alerts to the new publications of authors I trust.  This results in a continual bombardment of books that I need to read just to keep up with my profession, to say nothing of those books that I simply WANT to read (a list overwhelming on its own).  Then I want to keep track of the books after I've read them, either by remembering my rating or review and maybe keeping an overall idea of my statistics.  I'm curious about the numbers!

Goodreads not only helps me keep track of the long, long list of books I want to read, but also allows me to organize that information in a valuable way.  One of my biggest issues has always been when I think of a book, where do I find it?  Is it on my shelf waiting for me?  In electronic form on my iPad? Did I buy it for the library, so I'd find it there?  Was a friend talking to me about it and she has a copy I can borrow? 

The screenshot here shows the "shelves" available on my Goodreads account.  The first three, Read, Currently Reading, and To-read are default settings for everyone's Goodreads account, but you can add your own customized shelves.  You can see that my shelves are mainly about location and mirror the questions I ask myself in the previous paragraph about where I can locate the book.  The-latest is a shelf that mirrors my widget for this Blogger account which displays the titles I've read recently.  Now when I want to choose a book from the to-read pile, I can easily skim my shelf and see at a glance where to find the book as well as the summary and the reviews I need to remind myself what it was that drew me to this book in the first place.

Once I've read them, I change the main shelf from to-read to read and add in the date I finished the book. (This date read piece is actually my major pet peeve with the iPad Goodreads application - you can change the shelf easily on any book but it doesn't have a place for you to put in the date read.  So frustrating for me to have to log on to the site on Monday and change all my weekend reading to the right date.)

Here you can see how Goodreads displays your year's statistics.  Your total books displayed across the bar at the top with your longest book highlighted in a box on the side. (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for me, although with deference to those people who love that series, I really didn't like it.)  I do like the little book covers displayed and love that my books are all separated out by my star rating.  This has actually made it much easier for me in choosing blog-worthy books or series to write about.

Things I would wish for?  I would love to be able to pull reports from my shelves - customizing the year, star levels, etc.  Sorting by genre (paranormal, romance, mystery, historical fiction, etc.) would be a great help for when I want to recommend something to a reader or look for themed lists for my library website.  Being able to see how many books I've read by month would also be nice (and not have to use Goodreads app in Facebook to put my titles in the Facebook Timeline feature).  I suspect I'm more productive over the summer, but then there are weeks where I think that's not true.  Customized numbers by shelf would be a help, too.  A woman can dream, right?

So 334 books later, I'm happy that I met my goal of reading 300 books for 2011, particularly because I only committed to that number in March and felt REALLY pressured during December vacation to read, read, read!  Probably about 15 of those books are short stories or novellas read in ebook form, but the number does NOT include my rereads (which would bring the number to over 400 but I was only counting new books read).  My romance novel kick made reaching this number easy since fiction has always been quicker for me to read than nonfiction (which I also love).  I would really love to set goals for myself in different genres, but without the ability to easily access the data (ahem, Goodreads!) I think that's creating a lot of work for myself.

My goal for next year?  To read 366 books - essentially one for each day during our leap year - which I don't think should be a problem.  With Goodreads at my side, heavyweight reading is practically effortless.
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March 04, 2012 11:35 AM delete

Wow! Good for you! I just joined Goodreads and am definitely a fan. I'm just blown away that you read over 400 books in a year!