Posted by: bluesyemre | July 11, 2021

Beyond Goodreads: Four tools that help readers track their books

Serious readers, much like sports fans, often relish keeping track of stats. Many turn to Goodreads, a large social cataloguing website that allows users to log, discuss, review and rate the books they read. (Goodreads is owned by Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.)

But increasingly, there are websites and apps beyond Goodreads for analyzing your reading habits. Whether you want to boost your reading speed, keep track of your growing personal library or find just the right book to fit your mood, here are four reading tools to consider.

Litsy

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(Litsy)

Instagram already has a thriving literary community where people post photos of and talk about books. Litsy, a book-centric social network, takes that to the next level. On the free app, you can follow other readers to cultivate a steady stream of bookish content. It looks like a pared-down version of Instagram — minus the occasional kid or dog photo.

When readers post about a book, they can rate it “pick,” “so-so,” “pan” or “bailed.” Each post is directly attached to that book’s searchable catalogue page, where you can add it to your list. The search function works well. I typed in Emily Henry’s novel “Beach Read,” and thumbed through pretty photos of the book beside a dog, next to a scrumptious muffin and — fittingly — on a beach. Some photos simply featured favorite passages.

Everyone who joins Litsy starts with 42 “Litfluence” points, which indicate how influential you are on the platform. You can collect more by logging books that you’ve read and receiving likes or comments on your posts. I have yet to reach influencer status, but I did find the app an upgrade from my usual mindless scrolling — I emerged from my screen every evening with a few new, quality additions to my reading list.

LibraryThing

If you obsess over your home library and thrive on organization, LibraryThing might suit your needs.

The platform, available on the Web and as an app, recently dropped its membership fees and is now free. Getting started is easy: Import your books from Goodreads, plug them in manually or scan the bar codes on your physical copies using your phone’s camera. You can also catalogue movies and music.

While sites like Goodreads are convenient for keeping track of what you read, LibraryThing is an excellent place to keep track of what you own. You can organize books into different collections and add tags to note whether you own a certain title or borrowed it. For example, you might categorize books to indicate that they’re on your living room bookshelf or in a box in the basement. (I like that I can also log library books I’d like to own, so if I come across something interesting at a book sale, I can easily confirm I need it.)

LibraryThing’s recommendations are great: Its No. 1 pick for me was “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett, which I devoured. The site also fosters a nice sense of community: One popular group, called “Name That Book,” is designed to help people remember the name of a book they once read. “Girl sent to island for being sick,” a recent query read. (It turned out to be “The Scourge” by Jennifer A. Nielsen.) On message boards, there is near-constant chatter about every bookish matter you could imagine.

The StoryGraph

Whether a book resonates often depends on how you’re feeling when you pick it up. The website StoryGraph delivers on a big promise: to steer you toward books that fit your mood.

After signing up, I filled out a survey that included a dozen questions, including: What are your favorite genres? What characteristics do you appreciate the most in books right now? (Options: plot twists; women-heavy cast of characters; morally ambiguous characters.) What turns you off from a book? (Flat characters; confusing ending; dense writing.)

I whittled my recommendations down by noting what I was in the mood for (“funny” and “light-hearted”), whether I wanted fiction or nonfiction (fiction), and number of pages (300-499).

My selections generated a list of books that was remarkably spot-on. It included “Breaking Out of Bedlam” by Leslie Larson, “Ghosts” by Dolly Alderton and “Super Host” by Kate Russo. None had previously been on my radar, but all appealed to me.

Stellar recommendations aside, StoryGraph — which is free — also allows users to categorize books into various piles, such as “currently reading,” and create yearly reading goals.

Bookly

If you think of reading as a competitive sport, you’ll appreciate Bookly, an app that doubles as a personal trainer. The goal: to make reading a habit and increase your “performance” — which basically means reading more often and, ideally, faster.

Bookly’s app is easy to navigate and centers on a timer that keeps track of reading sessions. When you’re done reading, the app prompts you to log what page you’re on and calculates how much longer it will take you to finish the book.

Bookly is a statistician’s delight: You can comb through reports on your reading speed and compare your performance on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The app is also big on goals. I entered that I wanted to read for 30 minutes a day, and I set an alarm to get a friendly nudge if I hadn’t done so by 8:30 p.m. The app’s tone is chirpy and encouraging — “Hey! It’s reading time,” it announces, in a notification with a smiley face and book emoji. Half an hour later, when I hadn’t resumed reading, another appeared: “With 21 pages to go, you need 10 minutes of reading time to finish your book today.”

Bookly is free to use, but there’s also a paid version. It offers additional perks such as PDF summaries of your stats, including your best reading day and all-time fastest speed — which sounds like the literary version of a baseball card.

Angela Haupt is a freelance writer and health editor.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/reading-tools-book-recommendations/2021/07/09/cd64ca1e-e0d5-11eb-b507-697762d090dd_story.html


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