Goodreads Blog

Announcing Goodreads Personalized Recommendations

Posted by Kyusik Chung on September 15, 2011
Goodreads was founded with the mission to get people excited about reading. And the key to getting people excited about reading is to help them discover books that they’ll love, and then to enable them to share their thoughts and experiences with friends.

Today, Goodreads launches a new personalized book recommendation engine. It takes recommendations to a new level of sophistication by analyzing both books and, more importantly, the people who read them. It’s the Netflix of book recommendations.

Finding a great book recommendation online has been a hit-and-miss affair to date. We’ve all experienced the unhelpful suggestion to read another book by an author we already love. And how about the dreaded impact of buying gifts on Amazon only to have irrelevant book recommendations come up for months afterwards?

Earlier this year, Goodreads purchased a company that had built a very sophisticated book recommendation system. Today, after months of hard work, we’re ready to provide you with book recommendations that take into account what you like and don’t like and what certain books mean to you.

To get started, rate at least 20 books (and rate much more to get even better recommendations). Categorize your books in custom shelves that reflect what the books mean to you. Then explore your recommendations. We apologize for the impact this will have on the size of your to-read shelf.

How Goodreads Recommendations Work

The Goodreads Recommendation Engine combines multiple proprietary algorithms which analyze 20 billion data points to better predict which books people will want to read next. It maps out the connections between books by looking at how often they appear on the same bookshelves and whether they were enjoyed by the same people. On average, Goodreads members have 140 books on their shelves. With this information, the engine learns how your tastes are similar to or different from the tastes of other Goodreads members.

So, a big part of the secret sauce is…you, the Goodreads community. The Goodreads community is almost six million members strong, and you’ve added a combined total of 190 million books to your shelves!

Take best-seller The Help as an example: Goodreads members have added over 175,000 ratings of the book and over 40,000 reviews. In comparison, Amazon has, to date, less than 4,500 reviews and ratings.

But it doesn’t end with raw numbers. Goodreads members have put The Help on bookshelves called Historical Fiction, Friendship, Racism, Women’s Fiction and Cultural > African American. You can see how this book means different things to different people. If you’re approaching this as Historical Fiction and have enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, then a great recommendation for you is These Is My Words. With Amazon, the focus is on other best-sellers so someone buying The Help would get recommendations for books as diverse as Water For Elephants, The Hunger Games, and One Day.



We welcome you to try our recommendations on for size. Compare them with anything else you’ve relied on online. Then tell us (and your friends) what you think. We think you’ll be blown away, and that you’ll meet your next favorite book on Goodreads.

Comments (showing 151-200 of 271) (271 new)


message 151: by [deleted user] (new)

this is a great idea =)


message 152: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia This is going to suck up even more hours in my day! Seriously, this is a dream come true.


message 153: by Sierra (new)

Sierra This is great! I've already found over twenty books to add to my TBR list :D


message 154: by Patti (new)

Patti Oh I am LOVING this! Actually, I have been hoping someone would come up with somethi like this. It's a bummer when you are waiting for your favorite authors to hurry up and write something new! Then what happens? I snatch up up their new works and devour it in days! Then..back to the wait! This is perfect because I can now find other authors like the ones I read now! I live the Northwoods of WI- great if you hunt & fish- petty lonely if you don't. Reading is my salvation & escape! Bring on the books! Now..I can find what I am looking for- thanks GoodReads!


message 155: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Thank you, Goodreads! What a fantastic new feature - I love that you are always experimenting with ways to make this site even more addictive and wonderful for book lovers!


message 156: by JAN (new)

JAN I work at a library and this is one of the only sites we can go to while at work. Just last week we were saying why doesn't Goodreads do this. I hope this was the reason why it was so slow for a period of time. Now there is more to investigate and I will be recommending this to our patrons. Good work.


message 157: by Jason (new)

Jason Burt I've been hoping for something like this for a long time. It sounds great!


message 158: by Dorrit (new)

Dorrit So excited about the new recommendation engine! Next we need a tool to help us winnow through our soon-to-be-endless to-read shelves. Maybe a tool that asks a few questions about what sort of thing we feel like reading (e.g. fiction/non-fiction, light/heavy, funny/serious, easy/challenging) and selects a few books from our to-read list that match the criteria. My husband will be forever grateful since my current approach is to nag him until he picks a number between 1 and however many books I have on my to-read shelf (somewhere in the neighborhood of 200), then repeat until his selection actually hits on a book that seems appealing at the moment.


message 159: by Geevee (new)

Geevee This is not right or good - you just keep making me add more to my TBR.
It is a really great idea and it looks good - although I am getting recommendations for books I have read too (?).

Well done you bad people :)


message 160: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa FINALLY!!! Goodreads is movin' on up every day


message 161: by Apollinaria Fowl (new)

Apollinaria Fowl This is an amazing idea! I tried out the thing, and so far it's giving me books that I really am interested in reading. Now I just have to deal with the problem that my to read list includes over 100 books...


message 162: by Audra (new)

Audra Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "This is an amazing idea! I tried out the thing, and so far it's giving me books that I really am interested in reading. Now I just have to deal with the problem that my to read list includes over 1..."

Mine is over 200 and its not complete.


message 163: by Scott (new)

Scott In case anyone else is wondering…

I couldn't see my "read" shelf in the "Recommendations by Shelf" list, so I visited http://www.goodreads.com/recommendati...

I was shown a message saying "We are currently generating recommendations for your read shelf. Please check back soon."

A few minutes after visiting that page, I got recommendations from my read shelf. I'm hoping this is a beta thing :)


message 164: by Kimi (new)

Kimi The recommendations page is a wonderful idea! I'm already loving it.


message 165: by Maria B. (new)

Maria B. Quagliana i convinced my aunt to make one and now shes glad she did


message 166: by Wan Ni (new)

Wan Ni I LOVE THIS AWESOME FEATURE,
BUT
I get an error each time I try to mark a book as not interested. Using Firefox 6.0.2 on Mac Lion, is it an issue on my side or on Goodreads?


message 167: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (last edited Sep 22, 2011 05:42PM) (new)

Kara Wanni wrote: "I LOVE THIS AWESOME FEATURE,
BUT
I get an error each time I try to mark a book as not interested. Using Firefox 6.0.2 on Mac Lion, is it an issue on my side or on Goodreads?"


This is a known issue that we're working to fix. Sorry about that!

Edit: should be fixed now!


message 168: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Yep, I have the same issue (as I reported weeks ago) - clicking on not interested sometimes (not always) does nothing and kicks me to the top of the page. I'm using Firefox too.


message 169: by Patrik (new)

Patrik i got some great recommendations. good work! :)


message 170: by Nicole (new)

Nicole WOW


message 171: by ☞Proud☜ (new)

☞Proud☜ ☺✌Bookworm☮♪ Woohooo! This is what I've always wanted! Excellent! Marvelous! I can't stop singing my praises! =) Thank youuuuu!!


message 172: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Great feature, but we will also need to be getting the contractors in to strengthen the floors - how will they cope with yet more books?


message 173: by Heather (new)

Heather Moss This is wonderful -- I love recommendations and I will no longer have to toggle back and forth from Amazon's recommendations to Goodreads.

I hope that you will bring back "random" with the enhanced ability to randomize any one of our shelves. I would like to be able to randomize my huge "to read" shelf in order to select my next book. (I do it manually with random.org now, but it would be easier if it were integrated into Goodreads.)


message 174: by Josephine (new)

Josephine Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Marc wrote: "This is really excellent stuff. After playing around a little, I wonder if it'd be possible to simply delete a recommendation instead of selecting "not interested". There are some recommendations..."

You just need to click on the little arrow to say 'read' or 'to read' or another shelf. That should do the trick! :D


message 175: by Rbrubatest (new)

Rbrubatest i rated 20 books last night and even this morning when loading the recommendations page it said generating recommendations. is something wrong? everyone else seemed to have their recs fairly quickly


message 176: by Barry (new)

Barry Just wanted to add how amazing I think the new recommendations system is. I've always been pretty good at searching out similar stuff that I like, and I can say at least 50% of the recommendations i've been given I've noted to myself as possible future reads, so I'm very confident the other 50% i've not heard of will fit in with my tastes. Excellent work :)


message 177: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (last edited Sep 22, 2011 05:42PM) (new)

Kara Rbrubatest wrote: "i rated 20 books last night and even this morning when loading the recommendations page it said generating recommendations. is something wrong? everyone else seemed to have their recs fairly quickly"

Known bug that affects a small percentage of users. Our team is looking into that too!

Edit: The bug has been fixed, so your recommendations should now be available.


message 178: by Skaynar (last edited Sep 17, 2011 11:37AM) (new)

Skaynar Everytime I open the recommendations page on Firefox, Chrome or Opera, the browser crashes.
Works fine on IE9.
On my phone, only Opera mini and Opera mobile seems to open the recommendations page. Ucbrowser, bolt, dolphin and the native browser all crash.
Why so?


message 179: by HJ (new)

HJ Had fun rating lots of books. But the Recommendations page doesn't seem to be working:
- I consistently gave only one star to Dickens every book I saw (at least 4) yet a Dickens book is recommended for me! This gives the impression that the algorithm is taking note of the NUMBER of Classics I high-scored rather than the AUTHORS


message 180: by HJ (new)

HJ Cont prev note:
- When I tried to mark Dickens rec as "not onterested" the page came up with an error message
- When I tried later to give a score to a rec which I have already read, another error message.

But it loooks fun! Certainly a quick way to give a score to lots of books.


message 181: by HJ (new)

HJ Also - is there a did not finish shelf I can use?


message 182: by Audra (new)

Audra Hj wrote: "Also - is there a did not finish shelf I can use?"

You can create one.


message 183: by Kara, Director, Customer Care (last edited Sep 17, 2011 11:52AM) (new)

Kara Hj wrote: "Also - is there a did not finish shelf I can use?"

Absolutely. You can create your own exclusive shelf for "did not finish" on the "edit bookshelves" page. Just "add a shelf" using the feature on the bottom of the page and check "exclusive" next to the new shelf when it appears on the list. As an exclusive shelf, it will be mutually exclusive with your "read", "to-read", and "currently-reading" shelves. Let me know if you have any trouble with this.


message 184: by Apollinaria Fowl (new)

Apollinaria Fowl Audra wrote: "Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "This is an amazing idea! I tried out the thing, and so far it's giving me books that I really am interested in reading. Now I just have to deal with t..."

yikes.


message 185: by Skaynar (new)

Skaynar What is an exclusive shelf??
Also, can you please sort out my problem stated in post #184


message 186: by Audra (new)

Audra Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "Audra wrote: "Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "This is an amazing idea! I tried out the thing, and so far it's giving me books that I really am interested in reading. Now I just have ..."

Very. havent bought books since July to try and cut down on the tbr list.


message 187: by Apollinaria Fowl (new)

Apollinaria Fowl Audra wrote: "Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "Audra wrote: "Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "This is an amazing idea! I tried out the thing, and so far it's giving me books that I re..."

I'm reading like a book a day, but they usually aren't from my list, because I can't go to my school library so I'm just reading what I can for the most part.


message 188: by HJ (new)

HJ Thank you for telling me how to create a "did not finish" shelf.


message 189: by Audra (new)

Audra Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "Audra wrote: "Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "Audra wrote: "Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "This is an amazing idea! I tried out the thing, and so far it's giving me b..."

I have a list and I know I can get some from my library and these include e-books and audiobooks. You might want to check to see if you can get e&audio books without leaving home.


message 190: by Leonie (new)

Leonie Very nice :) It's great! And the icon of notifications is very nice too :)


message 191: by Alcqueline (new)

Alcqueline Earlier today, I was just thinking it would be helpful for someone to devise a tool like this one. The older I get the less I like browsing through new authors and books topics that interest me. I just want it to be fabricated from thin air that you may like this book. So, I hope to take full advantage of this new recommendation tool.

Great Job, Goodreads!


message 192: by Apollinaria Fowl (new)

Apollinaria Fowl Audra wrote: "Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "Audra wrote: "Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "Audra wrote: "Apollinaria Fowl(Artemis Fowl's wife!) wrote: "This is an amazing idea! I t..."

I can't take audiobooks. It just feels like I'm cheating.


message 193: by Audra (new)

Audra I've only managed to finish some books because of audio. E-books are a good alternative then.


message 194: by Jen (new)

Jen I LOVE this idea. Thanks! :]


message 195: by liTTleTalks (new)

liTTleTalks AWESOME!


message 196: by C.S. (new)

C.S. Sorry, I just don't see what's sophisticated about it. If I have a specific type of books on my shelf, the algorithm assumes I want more of the same. If I mark "not interested," it will assume I don't want more of that type. But there's a difference between books I'm not interested in because I'm not interested, and those I already own or have read. The system has no way of distinguishing between them.

From what I've seen in several runthroughs, I have to say I probably won't be bothering with it.


Karyn Kar Mun (Thy Evil Queen) Been waiting for something like this since i joined goodreads : D


message 198: by Josh (new)

Josh Won't work for me -- just been sitting there for hours. :(

I've refreshed several times and still no go.


message 199: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Brubaker Josh wrote: "Won't work for me -- just been sitting there for hours. :(

I've refreshed several times and still no go."


i had the same problem. i used a different user name and it had recommendations as soon as i had 20 ratings. one of the employees said it's a known bug with some accounts.


message 200: by rivka, librarian moderator (new)

rivka Shelving more books sometimes helps.


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