A few days ago, I decided to take down the Library pages on my blog. Formerly, I was using the Now Reading plug-in to power the library aspect of my site. Ultimately, the plug-in was more work than it was worth – it didn’t have the greatest interface in the world, adding books was a pain, and every time I changed my theme I needed to tweak the templates to match the style of the new theme. I ended up spending more time messing with the library page layouts than I did reading.
I figured using a separate site to tracks my books would be easier, so I played with LivingSocial for a while after I joined FaceBook, since it was there. It was ok, but didn’t offer a way to note when you finished a book, which I liked about Now Reading. Being able to see how many books I read in a given year, or the order I finished them in, was nice.
That’s when I turned to Goodreads. Like LibraryThing, Shelfari and many other sites, Goodreads is a social cataloging site where users can track books they’ve read, are currently reading, or would like to read, and can share that information with other users. Each book is added to one of three “shelves” (to-read, read, or currently-reading), and can be added to any number of other shelves of the user’s creation. Additionally, users can record the date they read the book, the number of times they’ve read it, who they would recommend it to, who recommended it to them, and their rating and review of the book. Those features alone make Goodreads quite handy, but there are a few more ways to extend it that I like. You can display your Goodreads library on Facebook or a blog via apps and widgets, and there’s a bookmarklet for adding books to Goodreads directly from Amazon.
Hopefully now I can actually spend more time reading, rather than just queueing up books that look interesting.
Earlier in the month I posted about looking for a reading list type plug-in for WordPress, and finding Now Reading. I’ve since installed it, and finished customizing my library. I’m happy with how it looks (for now), and have decided that in an attempt to both read and write more, I’ll post my thoughts on books as I finish them. Not quite as ambitious as the “52 in 52” meme, where bloggers attempt to read & review a book a week, but a decent start, I think.
So, I’ve been checking out “reading list” type plug-ins for WordPress, because I’m getting sick of just keeping a text file on my PDA of books I’ve read, and ones I want to read. Whenever I come across a book that looks interesting, it gets added to the text file, but then I forget about reading anything on the list until I come across a new book that looks interesting. Wash, rinse, repeat. I was searching online, and came across the Now Reading plug-in, which is great – it lets you add books to a “library,” and you can mark books as “Have Read”, “Reading” or “To Read,” along with other details like when you read the book, and your own review. There are some beautiful implementations of it (Example) as well. The author of the plug-in has a nice implementation as well (here). I really like that rather than hiding the reviews away in the library, where someone may never see them, he’s made each review into a post, and linked to them from the book summary in the library.
Of course, the “Now Reading” plug-in made me think about what else I might consider applying it to. It would be nice to be able to create a library of video games; what I have, what I’ve played, what I’m playing now, what I plan to play. And for movies, as well; what movies I’ve seen, what I thought of them, what movies I own, et cetera. Of course, I already have lists of what movies & video games I own; reviews could be easily accomplished by simply creating and using a “Movie Review” or “Game Review” tag. So would I really NEED to extend “Now Reading” to include Movies & Video Games? For how I would use it, probably not.