Goodreads: A Fantastic, Free Way to Track Books Read

It’s happened to the best of us. You found a book at the library or bookstore that sounds great based on the blurb. You start reading and it seems familiar and can’t help but wonder, have I read this before? With Goodreads, you can easily check to see if you have already read a book.

Goodreads is a website that helps you keep track of what books you have read and what books you would like to read. There are also many other features of the website (and app!) that include reviews, book giveaways, recommendations, and more.

Getting Started

Screenshot of Goodreads homepage prompting user to sign up for an account.

You have the options of creating an account with Amazon, Apple, Facebook, or your email address. Note: the Goodreads website and app have slightly different layouts. In this post, I will be covering the website, which is accessible in a browser on mobile or desktop devices.


Screenshot showing user shelves in Goodreads.

Once your account is created, you can start adding books to your shelves. By default, you are started with the standard shelves: Read, Currently Reading and Want to Read. You can make additional custom shelves as well by clicking or tapping on the add shelf button. For example, I have a shelf called Upcoming Releases, for books I want to read that haven’t been released yet.

Searching and Browsing

Screenshot showing search field auto populating results.

To find a book to add to your shelves, start typing in the search box. Results will auto populate based on what you’ve typed. When you see the book you’re looking for, click or tap on the title. When searching for an author or something with more than one result, hit enter on your keyboard or tap on the magnifying glass icon to see all the results.

Screenshot of search results.

Once you get to the results screen, you can limit by title or author. There are also other ways to filter your search by using the tabbed categories for the results. Groups are a social feature of Goodreads where users discuss certain authors, genres, topics, etc. The Quotes tab displays results for quotes (from books, authors, etc.) featuring the search term. People displays users with that search term. This is how you can search for people you know that may be on Goodreads. Listopia displays user created lists featuring that search term.

Book Listings

Screenshot of Goodreads book listing.

The main page for a book displays the average rating from Goodreads readers, a summary of what the book is about, the genres readers have tagged it, the length, and when it was first published.

On a listing for a book, there is the option to add the book to one or more of your shelves. Clicking or tapping on want to read adds the book to your to-read shelf. To add it to a different shelf, click or tap on the arrow next to want to read. Since Amazon owns Goodreads, if the book is available on Kindle format, the Kindle price is displayed. Adding a book to any of your shelves other than want to read or currently reading automatically marks the book as read.

To write a review, click on the number of star you want to give the book. From there, choose whether or not to add a review in addition to the rating.

Screenshot showing five stars being rated on a book listing.

Scrolling down farther on the book listing page, you’ll see if any of your Goodreads friends have read the book and beneath that, reviews from Goodreads readers. You can filter by the number of stars a reviewer gave, search for a word or phrase used in a review, sort by when the review was written, which edition, and the language of the review written.

Find New Books to Read

There are many ways to find books to read with Goodreads. I have found great suggestions by searching for a book I enjoyed and on the book’s listing, scrolling down to readers also enjoyed.

Screenshot of readers also enjoyed with similar titles.

Once you have rated a decent amount of books, you can view recommendations from Goodreads based on titles you previously rated. On the top bar, click on browse and then recommendations.

Screenshot showing Goodreads recommendations page.

Here are recommendations sorted by your shelves. Mouse over or lightly tap on a book cover to display a brief summary of that book. There is also a because you added field, which shows why Goodreads recommended that title.

Screenshot showing example of close up of book.


Another great way to find books is browsing a particular genre. Click on browse and then genres. There is the option to add your favorite genres for easy access.

Screenshot showing historical fiction genre page.

Within the genre, there are new releases within that genre, related genres, blog posts from Goodreads, giveaways for books in that genre, and the most read books that week in that genre. Mousing over any of the book covers shows the same synopsis discussed earlier.

Screenshot showing Goodreads giveaway page.

On the genre pages, there are also related reader lists and the most popular books overall in that genre. Also on the genre pages are new releases from authors you’ve read.

Friends and Communities

If your friends or family are on Goodreads, you can send them a friend request. Once they accept, you are able to see the books they’ve read and rated, along with any book reviews they’ve written.

Once you have added friends, you will see updates on the Goodreads homepage when friends have added a new book or entered a giveaway.

In addition to being able to add friends, you can follow your favorite authors and get updates when they release a new book. There are certain authors that have added the books they have read or are currently reading.

Giveaways, Awards, Blogs, and More

But wait, there’s more!

Goodreads has frequent book giveaways! Enter to win copies of books.

Every year, Goodreads holds their annual Readers’ Choice Awards where readers vote for their favorite book within particular categories.

There is a great news and interviews section, where they highlight upcoming new book releases and author interviews.

Readers can challenge themselves by entering the yearly book challenge with the goal of reading a certain number of books. Throughout the year, Goodreads gives you progress on how you’re doing towards reaching your goal. For example, they tell you “you are three books ahead of schedule” based on how many books you’ve read so far that year and how many you have challenged yourself to read.

Last but not least, the library has our own Goodreads profile where library staff rate and review books they’ve enjoyed.

Have you used Goodreads? Let us know in the comments!

Sketchsplanations: Learn New Concepts From Illustrations

If you have ever lacked the words to describe a difficult concept, or if you are a person who learns well visually, Sketchsplanations may be the perfect site for you.

The idea behind the website is embedded in its subheading: explaining the world one sketch at a time. Jono Hey, the artist who created Sketchsplanations, draws one sketch per week that explains a concept. While I’m writing this, I am enjoying the humor in the fact that it would be easier to show you the website than explain what you can find there. I would urge you to head to Sketchsplanations and browse to get an idea of the types of explanations you will find there. If you’d like to look for specific subjects, check out the tags page for the website. I found the illustrations under the “what’s the difference between” tag to be very interesting.

I Love the Website! Where Can I Get More?

Sketchsplanations offers several ways to subscribe for more content. You can sign up to receive emails or use an RSS link in your favorite reader. If you don’t want the content to come to you, you can follow them on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Pinterest.

Countdown of Our Most Popular Posts from 2022

If you have been a faithful follower of this blog, you know that it has gone through long periods of inactivity over the years. This year, we made a structured effort to post weekly to share the services and tools the library provides, help people navigate their devices, and highlight emerging technologies. We took a look back to see our most popular posts of 2022 and linked them here in case you missed them.

#5 – Accessing the Times Union

We recently added one of the local papers, the Times Union, to our digital offerings for our resident cardholders. Not only is it one of our most frequently used digital resources, the post we created with a video showing how to use it was one of our most viewed posts. Note: since we created the video, the link on our website looks a bit different. There used to be one link that led to the daily paper (image format) and another to text-only articles. There is now one link, and the image format can be chosen on the next page.

Screenshot showing Times Union logo and the link to the Times Union on the website

#4 – How To Spot a Fake Review on Amazon

I learned about the Fakespot service right before the holiday shopping season and had to share it immediately. Available as a browser extension or a website where a link can be pasted, Fakespot combs the listing and reviews and gives both the seller and the item a grade based on how genuine the artificial intelligence believes the reviews to be.

#3 – Check Out These Great New Email Newsletters from NextReads

NextReads is an email newsletter service the library provides to keep readers informed about new publications based on their reading preferences. Patrons can choose newsletters based on fiction genre, nonfiction subject, age group, and more. This year, NextReads came out with two new newsletter categories. This post highlights the newsletters and provides instructions to subscribe.

#2 – Wordle: The Game Everyone Is Talking About

Remember when Facebook was suddenly flooded with those Tetris-like images showing a Wordle score? We wrote a post to let people know what that was all about. Not only is Wordle still popular, but it has also spun off into similar games like Heardle, Factle, and more.

#1 – Introducing Biteable: The Best Free Image Resizer

This was, far and away, our most popular post. I was annoyed when Microsoft axed Microsoft Picture Manager, as it was a quick, easy way to compress, crop, touch up, or resize images. The new image manager in Windows is much more cumbersome, so I went looking for a simpler way to resize images. Enter Biteable, one of my favorite free tools. Given the number of people who viewed this post, I guess I’m not the only one who was looking for this type of tool


There you have it – our most popular posts of 2022. If you would like to see a tool highlighted or explained on Tech Tips in 2023, let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to cover it. In the meantime, we wish you all a happy, healthy new year!

Don’t Get Locked Out of Your Apple Account

If you’ve ever forgotten a password, you know how frustrating it can be if you don’t have a backup method to access your account. Luckily, Apple has set up a way to easily get back into your iCloud account if you forget your Apple ID password.

frustrated phone user with her hand on her forehead

Apple allows you to set up an account recovery contact. An account recovery contact is someone who can verify your identity and help you regain access to your account and all of your data if you ever get locked out or forget your password.

In order for someone to be your recovery contact, they will need to have iOS 15 or later on their iPhone, iPadOS 15 or later on their iPad, or macOS Monterey or later on their Mac. They will also need to meet other requirements.

When choosing an account recovery contact, pick someone you trust. Once you have set up a recovery contact, if you get locked out of your account or forget your Apple password, simply contact your contact. From there, you can give them instructions on how to generate a six-digit code that they can share with you. This code, along with other information the contact will verify, will allow you to reset your password and regain access to your account and your data.

For detailed instructions on how to set up a recovery contact, please follow the instructions on Apple’s website. Do you think you’ll use this feature? Let us know in the comments.

Don’t Miss Out on an Easy Way to Support the Library

There’s a good chance you’ve done at least a little online shopping on Amazon has started a program called Amazon Smile, which allows a percentage of each eligible purchase to be donated to the charity of your choice. More good news, you can support the East Greenbush Community Library with each eligible purchase!

Use this link to get directly to a landing page that selects the Friends of the East Greenbush Community Library as your charity. Or, you can follow the process below to learn more about selecting the library from the Amazon Smile home page.

To begin, go to and sign in with your regular Amazon account.

Next, you will be asked to choose a charity you’d like to support. If you would like to support the East Greenbush Library, you can type in East Greenbush Friends of the Library.

Screenshot of searching for a charity

Next, click the select button next to the charity name.

Screenshot of search results showing Friends of the East Greenbush Community Library.

Once your charity of choice has been selected, you will see a confirmation message. After you make your first eligible purchase, you can see the total amount of how much has been donated to your selected charity through Amazon Smile.

If you would ever like to change your charity selection, from the Amazon Smile homepage, mouse over where it says Hello, (Your Name) and click on the Amazon Smile link.

Screenshot demonstrating how to change your selected charity by clicking on the Amazon Smile link in the account and lists menu.

Have you tried out Amazon Smile? Let us know in the comments!