Goodreads Bookshelf Breakdown

If there’s anything I’ve learned about my fellow book fanatics, its that we love to organize our books. From expertly maintained spreadsheets that’d put even the best data analyst to shame to mobile apps that let you scan book bar-codes into a database, there’s no shortage of book categorization methods.


No matter how you decide to tackle it, if you’re a book lover, you probably have a system: and my personal favorite is Goodreads. I cross-post my reviews to Goodreads, so it’s not a surprise, I’m sure, that I use the site pretty heavily. It’s where a majority of my book suggestions come from and I value the input of several key reviewers enough to check their opinion on any book I consider reading. But above everything else, the customizable, free-text shelving system is perhaps one of my favorite features.

This is mostly because it lets me see, at a glance, what I’m reading the most. It showcases what my obvious favorites are and which others might be underrepresented, giving me some ideas for what sorts of books I might look for when I’m hunting down the next month’s reads. It’s also pretty crucial for coming up with book recs for people who might ask for something specific. If you’re looking for a dystopian, YA, female protagonist novel, I can drill down with my shelving system and (hopefully) pull up something that fits your needs. I love recommending books to people, so this is my favorite use for this particular feature.

Since I’ve spent so much time talking about it, let’s take a look at some of my shelves and how I have them grouped. I recently made a bit of an overhaul to the naming conventions and trimmed some repetitive shelves, but as of today, this is what I’m rolling with.

Genre shelves:

The bread and butter to any good shelving system and where I can visually come to terms with just how much fantasy I read. Boy it’s a lot. This really speaks for itself – a book gets shelved on the genre most relevant to it.

Ownership status:


I like to know if I own a book and, if so, in what format. This is honestly a lot more useful for books I haven’t read yet, especially when I made the purchase on a whim two years ago and suddenly want to read it. It comes in handy for knowing if I can lend the book out, as well.

Misc. Themes:

These shelves are basically things that might not be a genre on their own, but are major components to the book’s core theme. Things like dystopian, female protagonist, and war novels give me an idea of the focus of the book. This is really best used for the aforementioned book rec system, but I like to see it laid out for myself, too. Since I strive to read a variety of topics and genres, this ends up being pretty useful.

Experience shelves:
For lack of a better, more creative term, these shelves really only pertain to me and my experience with the book. “For Class” books were one of the many required books for my English degree or high school, which means I…. likely don’t remember them. Favorites are exactly that: books I LOVE and often recommend. And, finally, Gave Up books are those that I just couldn’t finish. This is rare, since I’ll normally try to power through a book no matter how out of sync I am with it, but sometimes you just can’t.

So that’s my somewhat disorganized organization system for my books on Goodreads. Maybe once I get a new bookshelf I’ll talk about physical book organization, but for now, digital cataloging will have to do.

How do you catalog your books? Do you use Goodreads or a different app like LibraryThing? Are you a spreadsheet master? Or do your books just live in constant chaos, a stack as tall as you are, each book a mystery to be pulled from the pile?

Let me know! Until next time~


Welcome to The Writerly Kind, a blog for writing, books, literature, and other story analysis. This blog will serve as a place for me to practice my writing – creative writing, nonfiction, fiction, analysis, etc. I’m looking forward to using this blog for a sort of outlet for all the parts of my English degree I haven’t had an opportunity to use. I have a few plans┬áto kick things off, including:

  • Writing prompts. Based on a list of 365 writing prompts and using a random number generator to pick which number I’ll be writing.
  • Book reviews. Just what it sounds like: reviews of any books I read.
  • Plot analysis. This might be deep dives into books or analysis of video game storylines, things of that nature.
  • Reviews and commentary about local book stores, libraries, events, etc. This one isn’t likely to be a very common post but I hope to get a chance to write posts of this nature.

That’s the gist of things. I’d love to put content out there every other day, but chances are good work will put a damper on that, so as long as I can post once a week I’ll be satisfied.

Here goes nothing!