Where do I find it?
What do I need in order to use it?
A Goodreads account (which is free to create)
Why is it awesome?
Goodreads is a website you can use to keep track of the books you've read, want to read, and are currently reading; it essentially remembers it all for you. It contains ratings and reviews by readers like you for an obscenely large amount of books (I have yet to look for a published, and some not-yet-published, book and not find it), and is a fun way to meet people that share similar reading interests. The more books you add to your shelves (read: lists) the more fine-tuned recommendations the site will send your way. It will also send you a monthly email when new books by authors you have read or want to read are coming out. There are also tons of book lists, discussion groups, an annual award for best books, and you can follow authors who use Goodreads; there is so much to do!
Is it ever not awesome?
Probably the biggest complaint I've seen revolves around the fact that Amazon (yup, the website conglomerate) owns Goodreads. So there are ads for books and some movies that perpetuate the sidebars of some pages. For me they eventually became "white noise" and I barely notice them. However, you may find them annoying (or be annoyed by the sheer fact it is an Amazon product).
Also, there is so much to see and do it can get a little overwhelming. When Goodreads first launched, it was a hassle to try to navigate to the pages you wanted to see (recommendations, new releases, etc.) but it is getting much better. You could find that Goodreads offers way more than you would ever use and it may seem like a bit of a waste or nuisance to have everything going on and not want to use it. But, it is a free site, so why not?
My two biggest, personal pet peeves, are that you cannot rate anything with half a star, and the site will recommend books that are a in the middle of a series you haven't read yet (yes, that does look like a great book, but no, I don't want to start with number eight...)
How does it work?
Honestly, there is so much to explore you are better off playing around with it yourself. But, since you are here reading this, I'll give you a run down of the basics.
When you first get to the site you'll need to give them your name, email address, and create a password. It'll then take you through a series of questions to fine-tune your account and get you going with adding items to your shelves. Then you are on your own. But speaking of shelves, you start with three "read, currently reading, and to read. You can also create however many other shelves you want and call them whatever you like (I have different shelves for different genres).
That's it! The rest is up to you. I personally use Goodreads more than I do Facebook and take advantage of a lot they have to offer. The beauty is, though, that you don't have to. Ah, freedom 🙂