What Is Goodreads? (How It Works, Ratings, Is It Free + More)

If you’re a book lover and don’t know about Goodreads, then you’re missing out. This site was made by readers, for readers. You can keep track of all the titles you’ve read, review your favorite books and get recommendations on what to read next with Goodreads.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But before you get into Goodreads, you probably have some other questions. Fortunately, I’ve researched all there is to know about Goodreads. Here’s everything I found out!

What Is Goodreads In 2024?

Goodreads is a social cataloging website that allows users to search its database of books, literary quotations, annotations, and reviews as of 2024. Users can register books to create library catalogs and reading lists. Also, Goodreads allows users to create groups of book suggestions, surveys, blogs, and discussions. Goodreads was founded in 2007 and acquired by Amazon in 2013.

There’s a lot more to know about Goodreads, so make sure you check out the rest of my complete guide!

How Does Goodreads Work?

Once you create a Goodreads account, you’ll be prompted to rate books you’ve already read and add them to your virtual bookshelf.

Further, doing so helps the site provide curated recommendations for your next read.

In addition to the “Read” shelf, Goodreads has shelves for “Currently Reading” and “To Read.” With that, you can add books to these shelves by using the search bar at the top of the page. 

To do so, simply type in a title and navigate to an individual book’s page.

Then, click on the arrow beneath the cover image, open the drop-down menu and select which bookshelf you want to add the book to.

Also, you can access the titles you’ve added to your bookshelves by clicking “My Books” in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

From here, you can add or change your star rating or write a review.

If you want advice about your next book, click on “Recommendations” on the home page. Here, you’ll see curated recommendations from Goodreads based on your past reads and reviews.

Moreover, Goodreads has a “Browse” tab that allows you to search by genre, see a list of new releases, and check out lists voted on by other Goodreads users.

Finally, another feature is the “Community” tab, where you can join groups or participate in a book discussion.

What Is The Purpose Of Goodreads?

More than anything, Goodreads is a place for readers of all kinds to come together, share their favorite titles, participate in lively discussions, and get inspiration for their next book.

With that, it accomplishes this by providing a space for users to create book groups, post reviews, ask questions, and get personalized recommendations.

Also, Goodreads allows users to interact with their favorite authors, stay motivated in their reading goals, and expand their reading horizons.

How Do I Join Goodreads?

To use Goodreads, you’ll need to create a profile, which you can do by connecting your Facebook, Twitter, Google, or Amazon account.

Alternatively, you can sign up with an email address.

Further, Goodreads is open to pretty much anyone. However, you must be at least 13 years old to create an account.

As a social networking site, Goodreads must abide by this age requirement according to federal law.

How Much Does It Cost To Join Goodreads?

How Much Does It Cost To Join Goodreads? Amazon

Goodreads is a free site, and joining doesn’t cost any money. Also, you can access the platform via the Goodreads website or on the iOS or Android apps.

Moreover, here are all of the free things you can do on Goodreads:

  • Create an account
  • Rate and review books
  • Add books to your virtual bookshelves
  • Search for books
  • Read certain eBooks
  • Join book groups
  • Post a message in a discussion forum about a book or book-related issue
  • Take quizzes, participate in giveaways and sign up for newsletters

While most of Goodreads is free, only two features cost money: purchasing books and advertising.

Goodreads doesn’t sell books on its website, but it will direct users to third-party websites to purchase titles.

Additionally, advertising is available to authors on Goodreads. For example, you can place advertisements on the website to promote your book.

Typically, this system works on a cost-per-mention basis, so the more people who click your link, the more you pay.

Can You Read Books On Goodreads?

Most sites will tell you that Goodreads doesn’t have a reading feature. So, while it’s first and foremost a book review and recommendation site, it’s possible to read on the site.

First off, many books on the Goodreads website have samples available. In fact, you’ll be able to read a sample from any book that has a Kindle edition.

That said, you can access samples by going to a book’s main page and clicking on the “Open Preview” button below the cover image.

Once you click the button, you’ll see a sample of the Kindle book pop up.

Each book’s sample length varies, but you’ll know you’ve reached the end of the free content when the site directs you to buy the full Kindle version.

In comparison, full books are available in more limited quantities. For example, you can find them by navigating to the list of eBooks and choosing “Readable” from the drop-down menu.

After clicking this option, doing so will bring up titles with downloadable excerpts or entire eBooks.

Fortunately, some classic titles are available to read on-site and don’t require a download.

Also, you can find readable titles by navigating to the free eBooks shelf. On this page, you’ll find over 1,000 titles available to read on the Goodreads website or in a downloadable PDF.

Moreover, many of these titles are classics like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

However, there are some romance, fantasy, and fiction titles mixed in.

Should I Join Goodreads?

As with any site, there are several positives and negatives to consider before signing up for this bookish social networking site.

So, let’s start with the positives; Goodreads helps readers do the following:

  • Share their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to books, making a normally solitary activity social.
  • Get and stay motivated with their reading goals through reading challenges and public accountability.
  • Find their next great book, thanks to curated recommendations.
  • Stay on top of new releases from their favorite authors.

Now, let’s take a look at the negatives:

  • Goodreads’ site design is old-fashioned, slow, ugly, and difficult to navigate.
  • Searching is not intuitive. If you make any mistakes, the book may not come up.
  • Readers can only rate in whole stars, leading to a broad and inaccurate rating system.
  • There’s no way to shelve and annotate books privately. All reviews are public, and many users feel like they have to judge what they’re reading.
  • Book recommendations are repetitive, unhelpful, and uninspiring.
  • There are a large number of trolls and scammy reviewers on the site, leading to inaccurate reviews (both positive and negative).

Obviously, there are a lot of positives and negatives that come with Goodreads.

But, if you don’t mind the outdated web design and the wonky reviews, it may be just the site your book-loving heart has been looking for.

To learn more about Amazon, you can also see our posts on whether or not Amazon owns Goodreads, Amazon eBook return policy, and renting books on Amazon.


As a concept, Goodreads promises a lot: a digital way to organize your reading list, a means of finding your reading tribe, and the chance to connect with authors who inspire you.

It succeeds in delivering on these promises to an extent, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Notably, a site redesign, added features, and more reviewer oversight would be great to start.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

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