When you first sign up for Goodreads, you are given three shelves: read, want to read and currently reading.
But like most people, you not only have those three shelves, you also have well… other shelves:
- age groups
- books you own
- books you’ve reviewed
- books you brought
- did not finish
And so on and so forth. And if you’re most people… your shelves look like this:
Or you’re me and you want to be a magical dragon among dragons, so your shelves look like this:
Some of you are probably wondering how and why I’ve kept my Goodreads shelves so “nice” and “tidy.”
Because you want to clean your shelves up and have no clue where to begin when you have so many books on your shelves already. Let’s be a little honest, bookwyrms: deleting shelves and adding books to new shelves is probably a whole lot easier than cleaning your entire TBR shelf.
But let’s get started on why I’ve kept things super small! And how. And the numerous questions I ask myself before creating my shelves.
“Do I really need these shelves?”
Since joining Goodreads and blogging, I’ve kept the same layout of my shelves with a few changes: in 2012, I had the default shelves plus owned, giveaways and reviewed on blog. Over the years, I’ve added on more shelves, which I’ll get into the nitty-gritty details of why later. But I’ve rarely changed the layout of my shelves.
Sure, age groups might be helpful because Goodreads isn’t helpful with the right group the book should be placed in. Plus with the whole New Adult somehow getting smushed with Young Adult, sometimes it becomes more important to distinguish what should be New Adult and what should be Young Adult. That’s a discussion for another day.
“Do I really need these shelves?” is one of the most important questions I ask myself when deciding to create a new Goodreads shelf. Something like genres, I don’t feel I really need when I can jump to a book’s page and see their genre, especially when the large community of users has already established the genres over the years.
But something like Reviewed on Blog? This is a shelf I really need, in my opinion. Being a blogger, I build up so many reviews and when you’ve been around for over six years, it becomes difficult keeping track of what books I did review on the blog and what books I reviewed for fun. Reviewed Elsewhere is also something I feel I need as I’ve contributed to various sites, some I continue to contribute today and may continue for years.
It’s too much work to put each book in so many shelves.
Personally, I think it’s too much work and too complicated to put each book in so many shelves. If I have age groups and genres and favorites and cliches, I have to add one book to sooo many shelves. When you have hundreds of shelves, how do you know if you already have the shelf created? What if you’re just adding a duplicate because you spelled it wrong the first time? What if you’re simply rephrasing?
“Will I use this shelf long-term?”
Also another important question I ask myself before creating a Goodreads shelf. Will I be using this for more than just a few books? Is it just a few books? Is it just one book? Am I using this shelf for one month only?
One shelf I’ve considered removing lately is my Kindle Scout and Read at School. I’m not using Kindle Scout anymore and the two books I supported were both meh, so what’s the point of staying on the site? Read at School was created back in high school to keep track of the different stories and books, but I’m not in high school anymore. I’m in college, and I’m graduating in less than a year. While I could have added on my textbooks throughout college, I don’t add all of them to my Goodreads account and the ones I have added I’d rather not think about.
At the time of creation, though, I thought I would use these shelves long-term. Turns out I’m probably not. And that’s perfectly okay! Your shelves on Goodreads is like being a blogger for a long time: they’ll evolve.
Having so many shelves can get confusing and overwhelming.
When you have hundreds of shelves, it gets confusing and sometimes even overwhelming. It might not seem like a lot of shelves now, but all of that adds up. And that’s when you’ll probably be in big trouble.
Personally, I get confused when too much work is put into something. When I try to do more than what I truly need, I tend to abandon the project for a few months or forever. But when I come back later and reorganize myself, I find that I usually stick to the project after because I keep it simple and less complicated. You’d think I would understand this after multiple occurrences in my life, but apparently I don’t learn sometimes.
Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone should keep it simple and less complicated. If it works for you, go for it! If it doesn’t, maybe consider reorganizing and keeping what you feel you truly need to better organize yourself. I guess you can say that I’m telling you to Marie Kondo your Goodreads shelves. 🤷♀️ But there is beauty in the simplicity of things.
Okay, Sophia, Tell Us About Your Shelves
I promised earlier I’ll talk about my few shelves and the nitty-gritty details about them like why I created them and if I plan on keeping or deleting them. Let’s get started, shall we?
Over My Fucking Dragon
I used to call this my “Uh, No Thanks” shelf, but I changed the name sometime near the end of 2018
because I’m hilarious! This shelve ranges from books I will most likely never read due to various reasons, including:
- books I feel I will rage at from the synopsis and will, therefore, rage when I read the book
- authors who have behaved unprofessionally toward a reviewer for sharing their honest thoughts, such as threatening legal action or black magic
- we’re not about that life
- books that have been known as problematic in the community when it comes to representation
- books that aren’t my type at all and I’m going to avoid forever
Goodreads doesn’t have an exclusive shelf dedicated to books that will never be read, so I created my own bookshelf of books that I will avoid. While this is small, I feel it is necessary for my own safety and well-being (for the most part), and I don’t plan on deleting this ever.
Reviewed on Blog
While I have a review archive on the blog, it doesn’t tell how many reviews I’ve reviewed in total. I created this shelf to keep track of the number of reviews I’ve written for Bookwyrming Thoughts in case anyone ever asks about them. Besides, I’ve heard numbers and data are nice to have. 🤷♀️
And I really don’t want to go through my entire archives counting the number of books reviewed. That’s too time-consuming.
I’ve also deleted a huge handful of reviews from the blog since moving to WordPress, so the number is definitely skewed now.
Same thing as my previous shelf – I keep this shelf in case anyone ever asks about the number of books I’ve played a part in helping promote or reviewed.
And trust me, when you start book blogging in high school, people ask these types of questions in interviews and whatnot. I don’t give an exact number because I have an especially goldfish memory when I’m on the spot, but I do give an approximate guess. 😂
I also just want to keep track in general of how many ARCs I’ve read and reviewed over the years.
Not the same reason as the past two shelves as to keep track for me. While I rarely listen to audiobooks now, I like being able to refer to my other reviews when I haven’t done one in a long while.
Did Not Finish
I’m a firm believer that DNF reviews are relevant as long as you make it clear in some way. If you don’t say it’s DNF somewhere in your review, use it in one of your tags or ratings or shelves, it makes it seem like you read the entire book when you, in fact, did not. To be honest, doing that is well… a disservice to your readers. But that’s just my thoughts. We’ll leave it at that.
I like to know what causes someone to put a book down. I want to know so if I feel this isn’t for me, I’m not wasting my time or money. Reviews are for readers, and we do like to invest our time and money wisely.
This is actually one of the shelves that I’ve considered deleting because I no longer actively look for books and vote for those I think would be interesting. My experience has been meh in the time I did participate and two books really aren’t worth keeping a shelf for.
Sometimes I call them “Chibi Views” but I’ve scrapped the name with the semi-rebranding and decided to call them mini-reviews instead. While I don’t usually write short reviews, I did quite a bit of them from early 2016 to late 2017. Who knows when and if I’ll need to do them again because I feel like it?
I’m also thinking of scrapping this shelf because I keep forgetting to add books to this shelf. It’s really just a repeat of what’s in my Review On Blog shelf other than the fact I know which fraction of the reviews I’ve done are shorter.
I don’t know why I have this shelf aside from keeping track of books I choose not to review. Since 2012, I’ve written a review for virtually every book… until around late 2015 when I got hit with a blogging slump on top of personal issues. I’m likely to delete this shelf as well, but maybe my brain likes to see what my reviewing ratio is?
I’ve hopped around and contributed to a variety of sites, some of which I continue to contribute currently. In a way, I do want to keep track of what I’ve reviewed outside my own blog in case anyone is curious and decides to ask the question, but at the same time, I don’t want to mix it up with my blog reviews.
Where I’ve been at (in case you’re curious) to shove (or drag) books elsewhere:
- In Wonderland Book Blog
- The Novelistics
- 60 Seconds Online Magazine
- The Arts STL*
*Current! You should come read my occasional reviews when I pop up now and then.
To Be Reviewed
I used to be really good at keeping track and keeping this updated, but lately, I’ve been awful at doing so. (I’m also bad at keeping Reviewed Elsewhere updated, but that’s beside the point.) I did originally create this because I have a horrible memory and need at least 20 different ways written in 20 different forms with 20 different reminder notifications to actually remember. Otherwise, I end up forgetting and resort to tossing it on my No Review shelf.
“Should I Clean my Goodreads Shelves then?”
At the end of the day, it’s up to you how many shelves you keep on Goodreads. And it’s up to you how often you want to go through and clean up. Keeping it small does have the benefit of not needing to spend the time to go through, and I’ve personally enjoyed not having the sudden surprise of realizing I have a million shelves.