I just tried out Goodreads, a site that lets you rate the books you’ve read and list the books you plan to read. It’s got functions for users to recommend books to each other, but, crucially, not the automatic recommendations I was expecting: the standard “people who likes the same books you do also liked...” thing as seen on Amazon and other sites. I’m not sure how useful the site is going to be without that; it’s the only reason I can think of that would make it worth the trouble of actually telling a site about the books I’ve already read and don’t plan to read again. My second complaint is that Goodreads doesn’t seem all that good at handling the list of books I plan to read. For starters, there’s no way to tell it that I’m planning to re-read books that I’ve already read without removing the ratings I’ve assigned to them (I’ve read the first ten Wheel of Time books, and I plan to re-read them immediately before reading the remaing four, once the series is finished). Second, there is a system of assigning books to one or more “shelves” (equivalent to what most other systems call “tags”), but the search capabilities are very weak: you can’t list all books belonging to shelf X byt not shelf Y, all the books on shelf Z by author A, etc. My reading list on Goodreads is currently about a hundred books long, and most of it is series—or even several series that have to be read in order—and I need those search functions in order to make sense of the list. Otherwise, it’s simpler to just keep using a text document where I can group and order books under different headings for different authors and series.

I could probably have lived with either of these shortcomings (using the sites just as a recommendation tool, or just as a to-read list), but as it is, Goodreads doesn’t seem to actually solve any problem for me. Are there better book sites out there?