Love reading? Miss bookstores? GoodReads can help. Editor of ReadTheSpirit, I’ve heard this thought expressed countless times: “I don’t know what I’ll do with Borders gone. I can’t go in and browse.”
Did you know that the No. 1 reason a person buys a book on religion, spirituality and cultural diversity?
Far and away, it’s: “I saw it on the shelf.”

We need to credit years of research by Stuart Matlins, head of SkyLight Paths and Jewish Lights publishing, for drawing that conclusion. And, it’s absolutely true. The vast majority of American publishing, these days, can be summed up as: Murder, celebrity, romance and food, roughly in that order of importance. If you doubt that, pick up next Sunday’s New York Times and circle all the books on the best-seller lists in those categories. After you’re finished circling, there’s not much left. That means: If you’re already a best-selling author, and especially if you’re a star mystery writer, your army of fans will find your books anywhere.

But the kind of reading we celebrate along with our ReadTheSpirit readers? You need help to find the good stuff, which is why so many people regularly follow our coverage online and in our newsletters.

GoodReads is a great way to expand that sharing of book news and ideas. Some ReadTheSpirit readers already have explored the invitations at the end of our online stories—that little section, at the very end, where we list ways you can “read more” and connect further with me, as Editor of ReadTheSpirit, and with our authors and writers as well. Some of you already follow my Tweets, look at my reviews on Amazon—and some of you have connected with me over at GoodReads. (See the links below, for more on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and Huffington Post.)

What Is GoodReads
and How Does It Work?

First, here’s the bottom line: GoodReads lets you “browse the shelves” for your next book.
GoodReads is a social networking website for people who love to read. It’s free and, if you do love to read—whatever kinds of books you like to read—you simply start by jotting notes for friends to see. Let’s say you’re among the millions of Americans who love a good mystery series. When you find a gripping new author, you can share the title in your GoodReads page and your friends will see: the book cover, your rating of the book (and you can rate it either while you’re still reading—or when you’re finished—or both). If you’ve got other friends who love mysteries, too, you can link your personal pages in GoodReads. Then when you visit GoodReads either online or via your iPhone or iPad App, you can pick up ideas for your next page-turning experience. If you’re on Facebook already, then GoodReads is easy to understand. If you’d like to read more backgorund about this GoodReads service, Wikipedia has an overview of the website including a few helpful links. Among those Wiki links is the 2007 Time Magazine story that called the then-brand-new GoodReads one of the Top 10 Websites of that year.

Here’s why GoodReads is so cool for true book lovers

This is like Facebook where the focus exclusively is swapping thoughts about books with friends—and with many of the actual authors, as well. This week, for example, ReadTheSpirit is featuring coverage of J. Brent Bill’s new Awaken Your Senses. If you become a part of GoodReads, you’ll find that Brent is very active, continually reviewing what he’s reading and sharing his thoughts with friends. Consider that Brent is nationally known as a leading expert in enlivening congregations—after all, he heads a Lilley-funded center dedicated to that purpose. So, following what Brent is finding useful in his personal reading is a great way to keep up with important books for congregational leadership. (Of course, Brent reads widely, so you’ll pick up other tips beyond books about congregations, as well.)
And new in 2012: As editor of ReadTheSpirit, I have been largely inactive in GoodReads, but this year I’m going to be regularly posting in its pages. Want to know what ReadTheSpirit is taking seriously in 2012? “Friend” me in GoodReads and you’ll get my occasional postings there.

Love Good Books? Enjoy Facebook?
Combine GoodReads & Facebook

A wide range of online voices (including Media Bistro) are recommending the new, simple linkage between GoodReads and Facebook. And, no, it’s not some sort of dark plot to control your world. This simple connection just flows your GoodRead postings into your new Facebook timeline. Bottom line: You won’t have two separate worlds where you “talk books” over on one website, but your Facebook friends aren’t aware that you’re recommending some good things to read. Now, when you add to GoodReads, the information flows over into the new “timeline” area of your Facebook page. Here is a new post by GoodReads founder Otis Chandler, explaining how to link the two sites.

Still Trying to Make New Year’s Resolutions for 2012?

GoodReads kicked off the 2012 Reading Challenge a few weeks ago, inviting participants to set goals. There are even support groups inside GoodReads to encourage your reading. Of course, most regular ReadTheSpirit readers won’t have any trouble picking up new books this year. Here’s how the challenge works: If you log in and create a personal account in GoodReads, you can then personalize your goals.
But, hey, if that’s not your cup of tea—you love to read at your own pace without any pressure—then forget all that resolution guilt. It’s just one of many options inside GoodReads, this year. It’s not required.

Bottom line: Love reading? Miss bookstores? GoodReads can help. Just set up a GoodReads page for yourself—and search for David Crumm. Send me a friend request and I’ll be happy to connect.

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Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

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