Why I Don’t Have a Million Goodreads Shelves | ft. the Shelves I Currently Have

Posted November 12, 2019 by Sophia

goodreads shelvesWhen 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:

  • genres
  • age groups
  • books you own
  • books you’ve reviewed
  • favorites
  • books you brought
  • did not finish

And so on and so forth. And if you’re most people… your shelves look like this:

reader voracious blog
Kal is a wonderful human bean and you should definitely check out Reader Voracious.

Or you’re me and you want to be a magical dragon among dragons, so your shelves look like this:

bookwyrming thoughts goodreads
Low-key realized I wrote this post last year so yeah… don’t mind me.

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.

Related: Goodreads Tips and Tricks from Isabelle @ Bookwyrm Bites

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.

i have a mighty need
Do you have a mighty need for that shelf?

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.

uh oh harley quinn
Live footage of my brain when it’s about to panic.

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.

Related: Lauren @ Northern Plunder shows you how to create and edit your shelves

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.

pure exhaustion
Live footage of me when I have to expend a lot of mental energy


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.

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. 😂


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.

Kindle Scout

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.

No Review

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?

Reviewed Elsewhere

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.

Let’s talk, bookwyrms! Tell me about your Goodreads shelves: do you keep them small or do you keep millions of them? Have you ever wanted to remove them?

goodreads shelves

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Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-Pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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27 responses to “Why I Don’t Have a Million Goodreads Shelves | ft. the Shelves I Currently Have

  1. I never thought about making more than a few shelves. Right now I keep the “Read” shelf and that is it! They are all there after I review them. I like it okay because I can scan it if I need to give someone an idea. But having more shelves might be a good idea. Maybe genres like you said. Or what I really need is a “books I want to purchase” shelf!

  2. This is such an interesting post Sophia! I began with just the minimum but I confess that I expanded somehow. Yet I choose the ones that I will keep in the long term.

  3. I don’t have many shelves as well. I mean, I do have more than you but most of them are useful like favourites of 2019 and stuff so that at the end of the year, I can go back and see what I thought of various books.
    I do have a few genre shelves but I stopped using them just after the first few weeks so I guess I should probably go and delete them since they are obsolete.

    • Sophia

      That’s a great reason to have a favorites shelf! Getting rid of your genre shelves is completely up to you, though. If it helps you and you don’t mind, I would definitely keep it! Everyone organizes differently.

  4. That’s quite a nice guide-y looking post, Sophia! I do agree that it can be quite a hassle to have SO MANY shelves xD and if you’re like me, you try to shelf it and put it in the wrong shelf.. so that’s an extra step (I do it alot on my phone ..)

    I don’t have much shelves either!
    I have one for my Arcs/Review Requests & my DNFs, like you. I also have my tbr (devided on “Virtual wanna reads” & “physical tbr”) — making me 4 shelves total of exclusive ones.
    I have two more “not exclusive” to track which books was from the library or audiobook (which the second is still at none so far).. so that makes it 6.

    • Sophia

      I do it a lot on my phone as well and completely relate to putting it on the wrong shelf! Sometimes I even miss a shelf or two and never notice until way later… 🙊

  5. Crap. Now I want to re-do all my shelves. I’ve started doing monthly shelves to help me keep track of my month stuff, and I like those, but I am getting annoyed at the million and ten other shelves that I have as well…a weekend project, maybe???

    • Sophia

      Go for it! Good luck going through all the shelves. Personally I keep track of books monthly since it’s already listed on Goodreads, but I definitely understand needing shelves due to the amount of scrolling you’d have to do otherwise.

  6. This was a great post!

    I have a lot of shelves, but I don’t think I have an INSANE amount like some people do. And I definitely don’t fault them for having 500 million shelves. I like to scan the names of other people’s shelves to get ideas for my own shelves. In fact, I started following one person purely based on the cool names of her shelves (and her entertaining reviews).

    I definitely have more shelves than I really need. I find the ones I use the most…in addition to the standard ones…are my “Always available on Hoopla” and “Non Fiction”.

    • Sophia

      I don’t fault them either! Bonus points if they can keep track of all that because it would be super overwhelming for me (and I’m forgetful). I love some people’s shelf names and sometimes scan them as well – they can super entertaining and hilariously creative.

  7. Sam@wlabb

    I used to have a lot more shelves, but, as you mentioned, it became a ton of work just to add the book. I narrowed my focus a bit, but put in some shelves for things of interest to me: debuts, ARCs, audiobook, age range, genre, diverse read, GLBT, OutsideUS, mental health, and shelf-love. Some are marked, because I track them, but others, because I want the information handy for list making reasons. I never had any funny named shelved though.

    • Sophia

      Ooooh list making is a great reason! I’ve never really did them myself since I review most of the books I read and categorize them by genre in tags.

  8. What a fab post and perfectly explains why your shelves work for you!

    Also thank you for linking back to my post! I actually want to revisit my shevles, or maybe my whole Goodreads and start again because I know I’ve stopped tracking my books correctly recently but … maybe that’s a task for another day

    • Sophia

      Your post was amazing and extremely helpful for those who want to learn how to create and edit their shelves! I get that feeling sometimes; I’m 95% sure I’ve forgotten a book being shelved correctly at some point… One day we’ll get it all the tracking done, though! 🤗

  9. I haven’t set up any additional shelves other than TBR because I own those books and do want to read them. I have used tags though to flag what books I physically own and which I have listed (I’m creating a database of all my books to make finding a book to read easier when I’m in a specific mood or need to meet particular criteria for readathons and stuff). I’m thinking when I eventually have time I might create more shelves. But for now the default ones seem to be doing just fine for me.

  10. Clo

    I have less shelves than you at the moment hehe, only because I just did a huge clear out and decided to keep my shelves to a minimum. The ones I have are for my ratings and I put them on so I know in my own mind how much I enjoyed a book, since I don’t use the star ratings the same way anymore haha.

    • Sophia

      I’m pretty sure you’re the queen of keeping your Goodreads TBR to a minimum too. 😂 I aspire to have a TBR like yours.

  11. Hi Sophia! I found your blog while looking for new-to-me blogs via Twitter. I used to think I didn’t have ‘too many’ GR shelves but I have also been wondering recently “When did I get so many shelves??”, lol. I created more shelves as my Goodread usage increased – especially when my TBR exploded, I created to-read shelves by genres of my own definitions. These are most helpful. I agree it can be a bit much to remember to add each new book to a bunch of shelves. I know I must have a few shelves like you that I created thinking I would use in the long term but don’t really. Tidying up my shelves sounds like a good idea for an end of year task…

    • Sophia

      Hi Jenna! I think others do the same sometimes – go in thinking there are shelves they’ll use in the long run and then they turn around years later to shelves realize they don’t. 😂 (This might be me again in 5 years, though, we’ll see.) It’s perfect finish off the year! Wishing you the best of luck tidying your shelves! 🤗

  12. Haley

    I have to admit, I thought making more shelves was a great idea when I first got into book blogging, and then I realized, it just makes a bigger mess for me to keep track of lol. I do however find my eARC/ARC shelf and YARC shelf to be my most helpful ones! Loved reading about your shelves, bahaha over my fuckin dragon

    • Sophia

      Ahahaha, I admire those who can keep track of all their shelves, though, I won’t deny that! At one point I thought more shelves were a good idea and then thought about the mess as well. 😂

  13. This post is super helpful. I have too many shelves on Goodreads to care. Sometimes, I don’t bother shelving because I’m too lazy to scroll through my shelves. You’ve given me food for thought as I reflect on what shelves I’d actually use. It’ll take forever to scroll reshelve all the books I’ve shelved, but I think it’ll be worth starting the process to save me brain space in the future 🙂

    • Sophia

      I’m glad this helped you! Good luck with undergoing the process, and I relate to not bothering with shelving a book (usually because I’m too tired, but also a little bit of laziness).

  14. DB

    I think I tried to keep my shelves pretty low and slowly over time they became more and more. Like I have a different shelf for the different ways I’m reviewing the book – which reviewing site is it from, did I beta read an earlier draft and the author sent me a copy etc. Which I’m pretty happy with if I’m looking for a book and know I got it from a beta read – I can just go to the shelf and look.
    As much as I love tagging the books, it can get pretty difficult to see and maintain all the shelves – especially if, for example, you created a shelf for the autobiographies you read because you were into them at a time but then stopped reading them 😂
    I also think I might delete the shelf for books I read during university – I’m not in that university anymore and whenever I finish up at another university I’ll probably be reading different books, but that might be a thought for another time.

    • Sophia

      I’m horrible with remembering where all the books I got from and how it was reviewed (ARCs, author copies, etc. etc.). Tagging is fun until there’s so much and it just gets overwhelming and a chore to go through later on in the future (then I’m really just spending more time asking why I did this to myself, haha).