Goodreads Hack: The Power of the Want to Read Shelf

Posted by Cybil on April 12, 2018


Every month, more than 18 million books are added to “Want to Read” shelves on Goodreads.

What's a Want to Read shelf, you ask? You'll notice the green "Want to Read" buttons near each book cover on the site. When you click on that button, not only do you make it easier to plan your future reading, you also unleash the power of the Want to Read shelf.

Let us explain: Adding books to your shelf isn't just an easy way to track books you're interested in; it also helps build a book's buzz and gives you inside access to when that book is on sale, or free as part of our Giveaways program!

We'll break it all down for you! But first things first…

Never forget the books you want to read

Remember that book your friend was telling you about? Or that bestseller you've been meaning to read but keep blanking on the name? If your Want to Read shelf is up to date, you're always ready for your next trip to the bookstore or library. You can also view your Want to Read shelf on Kindle when you connect your Goodreads and Kindle accounts.

Pro Tip: Scan book covers straight to your Want to Read shelf

You can use the Goodreads smartphone app to easily scan book covers to your Want to Read shelf, which is really helpful when you're snooping through a friend's bookshelf. You can learn more about the scan function here.

You determine which upcoming and new books have the most buzz

If you shelve a prepublished book, you'll be notified when that book hits the stores. In addition, those shelvings on a book page let our editorial team measure the excitement for an upcoming book. We use that data to alert readers to the hottest books of the month, season, and year.

Share your future reading plans with your Goodreads friends

Adding books to your WTR shelf also creates a newsfeed story on your Goodreads homepage, depending on your newsfeed privacy settings. This lets your Goodreads friends know what you're looking forward to reading. If you're nice, they may even loan you their copy.

Get a great deal on a book you've got your eye on (and maybe get it for free)

United States-based Goodreads members will be notified if there's a Goodreads Deal for a book on their shelf. Your WTR shelf is also used to personalize your Goodreads Deals landing page. In addition, when you add a book to your shelf, you'll get an email alerting you to a chance to win that book if it becomes part of the Goodreads Giveaways program. The best part? Because publishers often run a giveaway to build early buzz on a book, you can sometimes get your book for free before it's in stores!


Comments Showing 1-50 of 239 (239 new)


message 1: by Sara (new)

Sara Martínez Pérez-Tomé What I need aside from that is a button or stars indicating how much I want to read that. Because maybe that book is interesting but the next one is even more interesting and I want to read it first than the other one. (short memory i have, you know)


message 2: by Gumaro (new)

Gumaro Rodriguez lol i will have over 20,000 books in my want to read in 3 years


message 3: by Fabi (new)

Fabi Sara wrote: "What I need aside from that is a button or stars indicating how much I want to read that. Because maybe that book is interesting but the next one is even more interesting and I want to read it firs..."

You could use the "#" column to assign a number to your books in "want to read" order. You can always change the number for a book and shift things around.


message 4: by Mike (new)

Mike Pluta Sara wrote: "What I need aside from that is a button or stars indicating how much I want to read that. Because maybe that book is interesting but the next one is even more interesting and I want to read it firs..."

Use the position field to order the list.


message 5: by Gumaro (new)

Gumaro Rodriguez lol this is going to be viral


message 6: by Kevin (new)

Kevin ???


Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ I don't think it's ever a good idea to tell people to spam books so they become popular. Greedier publishers will just hire people to do that and then (as usual) no-one will be able to trust the ratings.

There's a problem with the Young Adult years shelves for example. If you look at the list for Young Adult, 2013, 2014 etc you'll quickly find that the majority of the books are erotic novels and nothing to do with Young Adult, something that Goodreads still hasn't fixed.


message 8: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin Sara wrote: "What I need aside from that is a button or stars indicating how much I want to read that. Because maybe that book is interesting but the next one is even more interesting and I want to read it firs..."

Yes definitely--I already have too many books on my shelf to deal with reordering them by number, and it would be much easier to either rate them with stars or a verbal ranking (such as want to read very badly, want to read someday, etc.) right when I add them to the list, as opposed to comparing them to every other book I'd like to read someday.


message 9: by Tonk82 (new)

Tonk82 I just mark as "Want to read" every book i buy :/ 368 Books "To-Read" is too much, so i do nothig with their position field and i just stack on the table the ones i want to read within the next months xD


message 10: by JoEllen (new)

JoEllen I would love to have a field where I could mark how I heard about a book as I add to my Want To Read shelf. Then I could look back and see what were my favorite sources for new reading material!


message 11: by Emily, Community Manager (new)

Emily Sara wrote: "What I need aside from that is a button or stars indicating how much I want to read that. Because maybe that book is interesting but the next one is even more interesting and I want to read it firs..."

You can add a star rating to any book on your Want to Read Shelf! Just make sure to add it to that shelf before rating it; otherwise it'll automatically be added to your Read shelf.


message 12: by Sean (new)

Sean O With over 1,000 books on my "Want to Read" shelf, it's become pretty useless to me. I almost wish there was some other way to organize them.


message 13: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Sara wrote: "What I need aside from that is a button or stars indicating how much I want to read that. Because maybe that book is interesting but the next one is even more interesting and I want to read it firs..."

what you can do is sort your to-read shelf in a numberical order!


message 14: by Terra (new)

Terra Sara wrote: "What I need aside from that is a button or stars indicating how much I want to read that. Because maybe that book is interesting but the next one is even more interesting and I want to read it firs..."

I love this idea Sara!


message 15: by Terra (new)

Terra JoEllen wrote: "I would love to have a field where I could mark how I heard about a book as I add to my Want To Read shelf. Then I could look back and see what were my favorite sources for new reading material!"

Ooo that is a great idea too!


message 16: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa JoEllen wrote: "I would love to have a field where I could mark how I heard about a book as I add to my Want To Read shelf. Then I could look back and see what were my favorite sources for new reading material!"

There's actually a field "recommended by" but it's kinda deep down in the review page, so it may be kinda bothersome to do that for each book you add (especially when you're very lazy like me). But it does exist.


The Carrion Librarian I had no idea there was a system to notify you when a book you've shelved before publication is released. Is this a new feature? do I have to turn this feature on? I've never had this happen, but it would be fantastic.


message 18: by Drakeryn (new)

Drakeryn Sean wrote: "With over 1,000 books on my "Want to Read" shelf, it's become pretty useless to me. I almost wish there was some other way to organize them."

You could always make more shelves for whatever categories you want - "2018-upcoming-releases," "want-to-read-top-priority," "anticipated-sequels," etc.

(Personally, I don't use the Want to Read function because it bothers me to have books I haven't read on my Goodreads list. It feels wrong, you know? So instead I keep a list in notepad. But this is just a personal quirk - I don't expect anyone else does it this way.)


message 19: by Charlie (new)

Charlie I would like a function so when you finish a book it adds the next book(s) in the series to Want to Read


message 20: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse Emily wrote: "You can add a star rating to any book on your Want to Read Shelf! Just make sure to add it to that shelf before rating it; otherwise it'll automatically be added to your Read shelf.*

Wait...why suggest someone rate a book they haven't read? According to the GR system, four stars is "I really liked it," which implies past tense "read it and so am giving an informed opinion." It's not "I'm planning to really like it at some point in the future." For that, we have both the notes function and the # column, neither of which affects the review system.

If someone has too many books to use the # function, there's always the option of creating multiple to-read shelves by creating exclusive shelves and naming them something like Want to Read Most, Want to Read Medium, etc.

I'm not being snarky or combative; it's an honest question.. Why knowingly compromise the rating system when there are so many other workarounds? Or am I missing something and ratings only count if the book is marked as Read? Because if that's the case, I've probably discounted a lot of books that show up with one and two star ratings.


message 21: by Emily, Community Manager (last edited Apr 12, 2018 09:46AM) (new)

Emily JoEllen wrote: "I would love to have a field where I could mark how I heard about a book as I add to my Want To Read shelf. Then I could look back and see what were my favorite sources for new reading material!"

Each book has a private note field where you can add this info! From the My Books page, click the "edit" link next to the book on your shelf and it will bring up the "My Activity" screen where you can add a private note, as well as who recommended it to you.

This is also accessible from the book page if you click "Edit" on the My Activity section.


message 22: by Emily, Community Manager (new)

Emily The Carrion Librarian wrote: "I had no idea there was a system to notify you when a book you've shelved before publication is released. Is this a new feature? do I have to turn this feature on? I've never had this happen, but i..."

This is not a new feature. You can turn it on in your Account Settings by checking the box next to "Email me when a book on my To-Read shelf becomes available" under "Newsletters and Other Email."


message 23: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse JoEllen wrote: "I would love to have a field where I could mark how I heard about a book as I add to my Want To Read shelf. Then I could look back and see what were my favorite sources for new reading material!"

Would the notes field work for you? Then when you rate or review the book after reading it, you could move that info to the Recommended By field, which is sortable (although public, whereas Notes remains hidden to all but the user).


message 24: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa Emily wrote: "Each book has a private note field where you can add this info! Just go to the book page and click "Edit" on the My Activity section, and you'll be able to add a private note. "

It could be useful to be able to edit this directly from our bookshelves page(s). Like have the edit button the same way we can edit directly from there "date read" or the shelves the book is in. (It's kinda troublesome to have to go to the book page, to get the activity page to edit this.) Or at least, directly from the book page.

Or maybe just have the "more details" working on the activity editing pop-up.


message 25: by Emily, Community Manager (new)

Emily Viraphone wrote: "It could be useful to be able to edit this directly from our bookshelves page(s). Like have the edit button the same way we can edit directly from there "date read" or the shelves the book is in."

Sorry, I should have included that this is already possible from the My Books page; just click the "Edit" link and it'll bring up the same screen with those options.

I'll update my answer above to include this info.


message 26: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse Speaking of the Want to Read shelf, does anyone know if there is a way to force shelves to load with 100 entries per page by default?

I know I can change settings to 10, 20, 30 or infinite scroll via Settings, but to get it to display 100, I have to change it every time from the bottom of the page. I've got over 500 books on the to-read list, so 30 entries per page (or fewer) is not really helpful and Infinite scroll is cumbersome.


message 27: by Cillian (new)

Cillian Emily wrote: "You can add a star rating to any book on your Want to Read Shelf!"

And that's exactly why GR ratings can't be trusted: you just encouraged users to give books the "WANT TO READ"--haven't read yet-- a fake rating.


message 28: by Mike (new)

Mike Pluta Tonk82 wrote: "I just mark as "Want to read" every book i buy :/ 368 Books "To-Read" is too much, so i do nothig with their position field and i just stack on the table the ones i want to read within the next mon..."

I've created shelf called own-to-read for books I've bought to keep separate from to-read books.

I also have a kindle-unlimited shelf to keep track of books I want to read that I don't have to buy...


message 29: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa Emily wrote: "Viraphone wrote: "It could be useful to be able to edit this directly from our bookshelves page(s). Like have the edit button the same way we can edit directly from there "date read" or the shelves..."

I've actually tried it many times, and while I can edit my review, read date and all, I can't edit the extra fields like "recommended by" or notes.

That's what I meant by "Or maybe just have the "more details" working on the activity editing pop-up." :)


message 30: by Bridgett (new)

Bridgett Brown Omg nooo stop using the star ratings as a sorting system. That is not what they are for. It’s a rating system. To rate how much you enjoyed the book. If you rate it 1 star because you want to read it later, then your bringing the rating for that book down. It’s not a classification system. The stars mean I really liked the book I just read or I hated the book I just read. Please stop using the stars to bookmark what books you want to read.


message 31: by Emily, Community Manager (new)

Emily Cillian wrote: ""And that's exactly why GR ratings can't be trusted: you just encouraged users to give books the "WANT TO READ"--haven't read yet-- a fake rating."

Goodreads policy allows members to rate books as soon as they are listed on the site. Many of our members receive ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) from publishers, which means they tend to write reviews of books pre-publication. Other members like to use the rating system to indicate their level of interest or excitement in a book. As there is no one set way to use the rating system, we view this as a valid use of the site. You can find more information in our Review Guidelines.


message 32: by Cillian (last edited Apr 12, 2018 10:00AM) (new)

Cillian I am aware of what ARCs are. But when you READ the ARC, the book is exactly that: Read. Want to Read implies you haven't read it; why is it okay to rate books based on...what, exactly? The cover; the release date? My point is that GR ratings cannot be trusted because of that. Be that in their TOS or not.


message 33: by Amelia (new)

Amelia This seems more promotion than "hack". I don't use Goodreads to help publishers generate buzz.


message 34: by Cillian (new)

Cillian Bridgett wrote: "Omg nooo stop using the star ratings as a sorting system. That is not what they are for. It’s a rating system. To rate how much you enjoyed the book. If you rate it 1 star because you want to read ..."

That's exactly what I am trying to explain to Emily here, but the point flew over her head.


message 35: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ wrote: "I don't think it's ever a good idea to tell people to spam books so they become popular. Greedier publishers will just hire people to do that and then (as usual) no-one will be able to trust the ra..."

I entirely agree.


message 36: by Emily, Community Manager (new)

Emily Cillian wrote: "I am aware of what ARCs are. But when you READ the ARC, the book is exactly that: Read. Want to read implies you haven't read it; why is it okay to rate books based on...what exactly? The cover; th..."

As I mentioned, other members use the rating system to indicate their level of interest or excitement in a book. We see this as a valid use of the site, and these ratings do not violate our rules.


Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ Bridgett wrote: "Omg nooo stop using the star ratings as a sorting system. That is not what they are for. It’s a rating system. To rate how much you enjoyed the book. If you rate it 1 star because you want to read ..."

This explains why I often go to books that are not released for over a year and people have rated them.


Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ Emily wrote: "Cillian wrote: "I am aware of what ARCs are. But when you READ the ARC, the book is exactly that: Read. Want to read implies you haven't read it; why is it okay to rate books based on...what exactl..."

It's not "valid" because what I'm seeing is spam. I no longer trust the overall Goodreads ratings because they are obviously skewed and apparently Goodreads is fine with this! (Or should I say Amazon)


message 39: by Tracey Allen (new)

Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum Cillian wrote: "I am aware of what ARCs are. But when you READ the ARC, the book is exactly that: Read. Want to Read implies you haven't read it; why is it okay to rate books based on...what, exactly? The cover; t..."

YES, exactly!


message 40: by Emily, Community Manager (new)

Emily Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ wrote: "Emily wrote: "Cillian wrote: "I am aware of what ARCs are. But when you READ the ARC, the book is exactly that: Read. Want to read implies you haven't read it; why is it okay to rate books based on..."

Please feel free to flag any review that seem to be spam or otherwise violate our policies so that a member of our team can review it and take action if needed.


message 41: by Cillian (new)

Cillian Emily wrote: "As I mentioned, other members use the rating system to indicate their level of interest or excitement in a book. We see this as a valid use of the site, and these ratings do not violate our rules."

Are you really that programmed that you can't even have a dialogue with someone without dropping TOS I already told you I am fully aware of? Talking to you is like talking to an ATM machine.
That part of the TOS makes the ratings unreliable since users are allowed to rate based on their excitement or lack thereof without reading or sampling the book. Get it through your head; I know you have no control over the site's policies, and if you don't want to engage in this conversation feel free to not reply instead of going on and on like a broken record about fake ratings being allowed--I got it the first 3 times, thank you.

And, mind you, GR deleted negative ratings on "Want to Read" shelves to appease some pissed off author; so those ratings are allowed if they're convenient.
Capisce?


Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ Emily wrote: "Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ wrote: "Emily wrote: "Cillian wrote: "I am aware of what ARCs are. But when you READ the ARC, the book is exactly that: Read. Want to read implies you haven't read it; wh..."

This isn't anything to do with what I wrote? I'm glad Goodreads (amazon) cares so little about it's users. I honestly wish that there was an alternative I could use that actually listened to what it's readers wanted.


message 43: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse Emily wrote: "Cillian wrote: ""And that's exactly why GR ratings can't be trusted: you just encouraged users to give books the "WANT TO READ"--haven't read yet-- a fake rating."

Goodreads policy allows members ..."


Okaaay...so you've really just said, in effect, "We're not even pretending anymore that the ratings system serves any real purpose to the reading community at large or that the courteous thing for users to do is use it to convey any real information about what they really read." I realize it can't be policed, but people in large groups tend to behave in accordance to set expectations. What you just said set the expectation to "shrug. whatever. as long as it can be manipulated for marketing buzz." So if I see a book description that says there are 5000 five star ratings on Goodreads, it now officially means bugger-all nothing.

Wow. Even though I knew the system wasn't perfect, I assumed most of us wanted it to be useful to the community at large. Suddenly, I just don't see the point in bothering to rate or review at all. I certainly won't be deciding whether to take a closer look at a book based on the ratings going forward.


Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ Yaaresse wrote: Okaaay...so you've really just said, in effect, "We're not even pretending anymore that the ratings system serves any real purpose to the reading community at large or that the courteous thing for users to do is use it to convey any real information about what they really read." I realize it can't be policed, but people in large groups tend to behave in accordance to set expectations. What you just said set the expectation to "shrug. whatever. as long as it can be manipulated for marketing buzz." So if I see a book description that says there are 5000 five star ratings on Goodreads, it now officially means bugger-all nothing. "

This could be solved quite easily by not allowing reviews or ratings of a book until one month before it's release date, to prevent spam. Also there should be something in place so that if a book suddenly receives 500 ratings in one day, someone gets an alert and checks it out to make sure it's not promotional spam?

Goodreads is an old website and problems like these should be fixed by now.


message 45: by Lyndi W. (new)

Lyndi W. I use my "want to read" shelf for anything that piques my interest. If I'm really interested in a book and I want to buy it as soon as possible, it goes on my "looking for it" shelf. If I'm interested but I'm gonna pass the book over two dozen times before getting to it maybe a year from now, it goes on my "want to read but not that badly" shelf. Hasn't been published yet, it goes on my "waiting game" shelf until it's released and then I move it, or read it, or read reviews and change my mind about reading it at all, etc.

I'm just saying, there's no reason every single book you maybe want to read has to go on the "want to read" shelf - you can make other shelves.


message 46: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ wrote: "This could be solved quite easily by not allowing reviews or ratings of a book until one month before it's release date, to prevent spam. Also there should be something in place so that if a book suddenly receives 500 ratings in one day, someone gets an alert and checks it out to make sure it's not promotional spam?

Goodreads is an old website and problems like these should be fixed by now.."


I like your ideas; however, I think they don't stand a chance. She just implied that it's all about "creating buzz" rather than sharing information or maintaining integrity of the review system. Until someone in upper management decides integrity contributes to profitability, it's an adorable idea that is useless to the corporate Powers That Be. If the illusion suits their marketing needs, there is no incentive to actually have valid information. Why bother?

Oh, wait...because it's the honest, ethical, customer-focused thing to do? Right. Yeah. I getting the idea doesn't mean anything anymore.


message 47: by Katsuro (new)

Katsuro Ricksand Emily wrote: "...other members use the rating system to indicate their level of interest or excitement in a book. We see this as a valid use of the site, and these ratings do not violate our rules. "
So why even show the average rating for a book, when it's a complete mix of ratings based on reading the book and ratings based on excitement? It doesn't help anyone to have this system that's neither fish nor fowl.


message 48: by Marcus (new)

Marcus R I think its apretty good article.


message 49: by Heather Codename: ♕Dutchess♕ (last edited Apr 12, 2018 10:55AM) (new)

Heather Codename: ♕Dutchess♕ I don't use it. Actually, other than the "read" shelf, I don't use the executive shelves. I made my own executive shelves and organized everything by the year I added them. Makes going through and finding something to read so much easier.


Vee ♔Under Mountain Books♔ Yaaresse wrote: "I like your ideas; however, I think they don't stand a chance. She just implied that it's all about "creating buzz" rather than sharing information or maintaining integrity of the review system. Until someone in upper management decides integrity contributes to profitability, it's an adorable idea that is useless to the corporate Powers That Be. If the illusion suits their marketing needs, there is no incentive to actually have valid information. Why bother? "

Oh I know. None of my ideas are new - I've seen them in Goodreads forums repeated over and over and over and over and nothing ever changes. I can't believe that it was only in the last year that Goodreads finally allowed us to add re-reads of a book!


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