Goodreads Hack: How to Create Custom Bookshelves

Posted by Marie on October 19, 2018


Sorting books is half the fun of being a bibliophile. Fortunately, creating custom bookshelves to keep your favorites organized requires no heavy lifting on Goodreads!

Custom bookshelves allow you to group books into as many unique categories as you want.


Many of our members use custom bookshelves to help sort their books based on preferred genres or subgenres (e.g. time-traveling romances, dystopian alternate histories). Our members also use custom bookshelves to keep track of their reading progress (up next, will come back later, etc.).

You can also add custom bookshelves on your mobile device (which we'll cover in a future Goodreads Hack article, so stay tuned!)

The sky is the limit! Let’s break it down…

1. Click the “My Books” tab on the homepage.


Your "My Books" page includes three default bookshelves: Read, Currently Reading, and Want to Read.

2. Click "Edit" next to "Bookshelves" to go to your Bookshelves page.


3. From here, name and add your custom bookshelf.

Enter the name of your custom bookshelf. For example, if you’re a history fan and would like to create a shelf just for history books, type “History" and click “Add.” To save your changes, scroll to the bottom of the page and hit “I’m Done.”


That’s it! Here are some examples of custom bookshelf names to help you get started:

  • All-time favorites
  • Recommended by friends
  • Own
  • Borrowed
  • Rereading
  • Audiobooks
  • Up next
  • Abandoned/Did not finish
  • Someday

Remember, you can be as specific as you want to be! In this example, your “History” shelf can be as precise as “World War II History” or “French Culinary History.”

Did You Know…? You can create a custom bookshelf from a book summary page.

Let’s say you’re browsing a book summary page and found a science fiction book that you like, but you don’t have a custom bookshelf for science fiction. Not to worry! Simply click on the drop-down arrow right underneath the book cover image. Then scroll down until you see “Add Shelf.”


Enter the name of your new custom bookshelf and click “Add.”


Congratulations! This book has now been added to your new custom bookshelf!

Did You Know…? You can rename or delete your custom bookshelf.

You can make changes to your custom bookshelves any time! Just click on the "My Books" tab on the homepage to get to your "Bookshelves" page. From there, scroll to the custom bookshelf that you would like to change and hit “rename” or click the “X” to delete.


Did You Know…? You can find more pro tips on your Bookshelves page.

These can be found on the right-hand side of your Bookshelves page and include nifty tricks such as how to feature your custom bookshelf on your Goodreads profile page and how to get recommendations based on the books you add.



Have you created a custom bookshelf or two? Tell us how you use custom bookshelves in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
Goodreads Hack: Your Guide to Book Giveaways
Goodreads Hack: The Power of the Want to Read Shelf
Goodreads Hack: Scan a Book Cover!



Comments Showing 1-50 of 70 (70 new)


message 1: by Morgan (new)

Morgan Is there a way to make a shelf not show up for others to see? Or are they all public? I don't really mind showing off my books, but it would be a nice feature.


message 2: by Meg (new)

Meg Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I can put that book so that I don't forget and add it to my want to read again.


message 3: by Steph (new)

Steph Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I can put that..."

I have a dnf shelf. I made it as shpwn above, and clicked the exclusive shelf box.


message 4: by Isaiah (new)

Isaiah Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I can put that..."

You can. I have one called "DNF" for Did Not Finish. It is exclusive as well. So I can't have the book on my "to-read' or "read" shelf when it is on "DNF".

You would create it the same way the guide above shows. There is a button you can check labeled "Exclusive". That would fit your idea.


message 5: by Aimee Dars (new)

Aimee Dars I totally depend on my custom bookshelves!


message 6: by Meg (new)

Meg Thanks all! The exclusive was definitely the part I was missing before.


message 7: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Isaiah wrote: "Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I ..."

I didn't know you could make a shelf exclusive. I just created an exclusive Did Not Finish shelf for all the books I only read a couple of chapters of before moving on. Before that I was marking them as read but not putting a Read Date so they didn't show up on my yearly challenge. This is much better!


message 8: by Melody (new)

Melody Morgan wrote: "Is there a way to make a shelf not show up for others to see? Or are they all public? I don't really mind showing off my books, but it would be a nice feature."

Morgan beat me to it, but I came here to ask the same question. Would find this a useful feature as well.


message 9: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie For a book status, it seems the only choices are want to read, reading, or read, but none of those work for books you want to shelve that you started but didn't like.


message 10: by Cai, Goodreads employee (new)

Cai Morgan wrote: "Is there a way to make a shelf not show up for others to see? Or are they all public? I don't really mind showing off my books, but it would be a nice feature."

Hey Morgan! At the moment we don't offer the ability to make bookshelves private; one of the reasons we started Goodreads was to see our friends' reviews and share our own. That said, a workaround is creating a secret group, and using its bookshelves to document books you'd like to keep private.


message 11: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Rehani Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I can put that..."

I want this too! I have a "did not finish" shelf and I wish I could put books there without also having to mark them as read/currently reading/want to read.

I know Goodreads has said that the read/currently reading/want to read shelves are toggled - you have to pick one. But I wish there was an option to shelve books on a custom shelf without having to pick one of those.


message 12: by Tania (new)

Tania There is. You can make a shelf (ie DNF or Wishlist), by making it Exclusive. To do this, go to My Books. At the top on the left you have your bookshelves. There is an (edit) beside Bookshelves, click on that and you can tick a box beside your shelf to make it exclusive.


August Is Azathoth HPL 129 August 20! I love to create custom shelves, for example, for every readathon in which I participate. But lately (about 2 weeks), I can't access My Books. I receive this message: "Goodreads request took too long.
The latest request to the Goodreads servers took too long to respond. We have been notified of the issue and are looking into it."
No matter what device (PC, Kindle, or phone)


message 14: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Rehani Amanda wrote: "Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I ..."

Update: I was not aware of the "exclusive" shelf option. Thanks everybody!


message 15: by Anna 'Bookbuyer' (new)

Anna 'Bookbuyer' Amanda wrote: "Amanda wrote: "Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a..."

Yup. The only kicker is that if it's a shelf you already have a lot of books on it can sometimes create issues. :)


message 16: by Franky (new)

Franky Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I can put that..."

You can create a new 'exclusive' shelf. All books on this shelf won't appear in read nor want to read. Just go to 'my books' and click on 'edit' next to 'bookselves'. There you can check 'exclusive' for your new shelf et voilà.


message 17: by Emmeline Joy (new)

Emmeline Joy it's a little OCD, but i have a list of books with a color in the title (example: Red Rising, or Woman in Black)... because why not? ;)


message 18: by Julie (new)

Julie Barrett I was not aware I could make my DNF shelf exclusive either! It's now removed the books from my READ shelf but they are still showing up on my 2018 challenge. How do I remove DNF books from my challenge?


message 19: by Dany , Goodreads employee (new)

Dany Julie wrote: "How do I remove DNF books from my chall..."

Hi Julie. For books to count towards your "Reading Challenge" they need to have a "date read" in the current year, so if you want them removed from it, you just need to remove the "date read," from the review page.


message 20: by Franky (new)

Franky Julie wrote: "I was not aware I could make my DNF shelf exclusive either! It's now removed the books from my READ shelf but they are still showing up on my 2018 challenge. How do I remove DNF books from my chall..."

I have the same problem. I think you can't remove books from the challenge. But you can add books from currently reading directly to your exclusive shelf, so they won't count in the challenge.


message 21: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Someone is adding books to my read shelf when I have not yet read them.


message 22: by Anna 'Bookbuyer' (new)

Anna 'Bookbuyer' Nancy wrote: "Someone is adding books to my read shelf when I have not yet read them."

I find that happens sometimes when you switch books from certain shelves. Or when you try to add a book from a non exclusive shelf without having on an exclusive shelf first. :)


message 23: by Abby (new)

Abby I'm surprised there's people who don't know how to do this. I thought it was pretty easy to figure out but maybe that's just me :/


message 24: by Anna 'Bookbuyer' (new)

Anna 'Bookbuyer' Abby wrote: "I'm surprised there's people who don't know how to do this. I thought it was pretty easy to figure out but maybe that's just me :/"

Same. But I like to mess with my shelves a lot. Plus I've been on here for like 5+ years. :)


message 25: by Leah (new)

Leah Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I can put that..."

Yes you can. Go to My Profile, then My Books, then Edit. In here you can add a shelf then choose how you use it/see it. I have a Didn't Finish shelf that I have categorized as Exclusive, which means that it has to be either Read, Currently Reading, To Read, or my custom shelf Didn't Finish. This take it out of any of those other shelves and help me to remember that I didn't finish it because I didn't like it. I also have a Paused custom shelf for any book that I started but may want to come back to (could be that I still want to read it, but I'm just not that interested in it right now, or maybe I got it from the library and didn't finish it before it had to be returned). Hope this helps!


message 26: by Leah (new)

Leah Franky wrote: "Julie wrote: "I was not aware I could make my DNF shelf exclusive either! It's now removed the books from my READ shelf but they are still showing up on my 2018 challenge. How do I remove DNF books..."

Books will show up in the challenge if you have a Read date entered for it. Remove the Read date and it should take it out of the challenge for the year.


message 27: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Toponce I wish bookshelves were treated more like a tagging system though. The current bookshelf UX is clunky. When I want to read a book, and currently reading, or just did finish a book, it would be nice to just add a string of tags, or bookshelves, whether or not they already exist. LibraryThing has this flawlessly implemented.


message 28: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Cai wrote: "Morgan wrote: "Is there a way to make a shelf not show up for others to see? Or are they all public? I don't really mind showing off my books, but it would be a nice feature."

Hey Morgan! At the m..."


How do you create a "Secret Group"?


message 29: by André (last edited Oct 19, 2018 07:42PM) (new)

André I wrote more tips on choosing, using and taming Goodreads shelves some time ago:
https://github.com/andre-st/goodreads...


message 30: by Emma (new)

Emma thanks a lot. I have a lot of shelves, including a DNF, but I didn't know about the exclusive thing


message 31: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Aaron wrote: "I wish bookshelves were treated more like a tagging system though. The current bookshelf UX is clunky. When I want to read a book, and currently reading, or just did finish a book, it would be nice..."

I would NOT like that. I love the way goodreads has shelves. You can add your own "tags" just they are now new shelves.


What I would LOVE is to delete status updates on my books. Used to be able to delete a status, but no longer :(


message 32: by Claudia (new)

Claudia Nancy wrote: "Someone is adding books to my read shelf when I have not yet read them."

I've noticed that I've increased my read listing once in a while. I have a separate shelf labelled 'z2018' for the books I'm reading this year (just started this year) and if the Read shelf and z shelf suddenly disagree, I check to see what is on the Read shelf that I haven't read.

I've found a couple of times, in my 'enthusiasm' to add a book to my To Read listing, I actually hit Read instead. I'll just click on the shelves edit (5th column over) and change it back to To Read. Click close. Hit refresh and the numbers once again agree.

It may not be your problem but I have noticed that I've made that mistake a couple of times so it may be an option.


message 33: by Superbunny (new)

Superbunny you know what would be great, an actual graphic of a bookshelf i can drag book (spine) graphics onto and rearrange as i please. lots of people have shifted to ebooks over the years but we still miss have real bookshelves like back in the 90s. it would be so cool if we had a real digital shelf we can curate and post on our account page and even pin on our pinterest and instagram.
you "lists and tags" are very functional, but not as fun to play with and use.


message 34: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Eskola This isn’t really a ‘hack’, it’s a standard feature.


message 35: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Alessi I create a shelf for all the books that I read every year, such as read-in-2014, read-in-2015, etc...

Sounds good and helpful, but these suggets are even better!


message 36: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Coudeville I'm the queen of custom shelves. I just wish you could filter on shelves


message 37: by Laurie (new)

Laurie I am going to love this feature.Thank you!


message 38: by Rlsalvati (new)

Rlsalvati Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I can put that..."

I have a gave-up-on shelf for this


message 39: by P.W. (new)

P.W. Morgan wrote: "Is there a way to make a shelf not show up for others to see? Or are they all public? I don't really mind showing off my books, but it would be a nice feature."
I contacted Goodreads some time ago about this, and the answer is "no."


message 40: by Kendra (new)

Kendra Love customizing my shelves. Along with the Challenge, I set up a monthly shelves for when I added books and when I read them, and then at the end of the year, I tweak it with z in front and it drops it to the bottom. So...

added-in-june-2018
read-in-june-2018
z-read-in-june-2017


message 41: by Dany , Goodreads employee (new)

Dany Kathryn wrote: "How do you create a "Secret Group"? ..."

You can check this thread for more information on how to create a Secret Group.


message 42: by Kay Dee (new)

Kay Dee Franky wrote: "Meg wrote: "Also can I create a shelf for books that aren't on my read or want to read? ie sometimes I have started a book not liked it and decide not to read. I would like to have a shelf where I ..."

thanks so much! i was looking and looking for the exclusive button and couldn't find it.


message 43: by Kay Dee (new)

Kay Dee P.W. wrote: "Morgan wrote: "Is there a way to make a shelf not show up for others to see? Or are they all public? I don't really mind showing off my books, but it would be a nice feature."
I contacted Goodreads..."


yeah, no privacy. which means i don't record all my books. that's one reason why i was so mad when Amazon bought Shelfari and got rid of it cuz they also owned Goodreads. you could mark individual books private or only allow your friends to see them.


message 44: by Andrea (new)

Andrea I’m very OCD about my books, and I really enjoy spending my time sorting and classifying books into my custom bookshelves. Since all custom shelves are alphabetized I take an almost librarian approach and have all my shelves labeled sequentially. For example,

Nonfiction-biography
Nonfiction-business
Nonfiction-economy
Nonfiction-environment, etc...

Or even by subgenres, like...

Nonfiction-biology
Nonfiction-biology-genetics
Nonfiction-biology-marine

Nonfiction-history
Nonfiction-history-Balkans
Nonfiction-history-Britain
Nonfiction-history-Canada, etc...

This way it’s all subgenres are grouped together and are easy to find. I tag books as soon as I mark them “want to read”. If I am in the mood for some marine biology I can easily locate all my books on the subject and pick from there. I have the same approach towards foreign lit. For example,

Literature-Angolan
Literature-Cambodian
Literature-Canadian, etc...

I love my system.


message 45: by Baldurian (new)

Baldurian If only there was a way to esclude custom shelves from the graph in stats page. All my read books belongs to narrative or non-fiction shelves, but I don't want those to count for my percent values.


message 46: by CJ (new)

CJ Scurria I do this a lot! It's kind of fun seeing my books in genres and subgenres in case I am curious to see or check out books a second time or any other reason.


message 47: by Adrian (new)

Adrian I have over 300 book shelves. Is this a little bit excessive?


message 48: by Adrian (last edited Oct 20, 2018 04:41PM) (new)

Adrian Andrea wrote: "I’m very OCD about my books, and I really enjoy spending my time sorting and classifying books into my custom bookshelves. Since all custom shelves are alphabetized I take an almost librarian appro..."
An excellent approach Andrea. My approach is similar to yours, but not quite as organized. Will have to look at ways of improving my shelves.


message 49: by Fee (new)

Fee Adrian wrote: "I have over 300 book shelves. Is this a little bit excessive?"

I have 103, so I'd say it's perfectly alright!


message 50: by Tesalonica (new)

Tesalonica I created an ABANDONED bookshelf for books I gave up on.
And I also created a DO NOT WANT TO READ shelf for books that keep popping up in my recommendations many times and I'm not interested in at all.
And I created a 5 STARS shelf for the books I considered to be amazing, and that's my featured shelf in my profile.
I have no other shelves but those and the regular ones GR provides.


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