Friday, February 24, 2017
In Which I Attempt to Explain Why I Have 82 Goodreads Shelves
In the beginning (2008), when I was neither a blogger nor a reading teacher, I had the same three shelves that everyone starts with: Read, To-Read, and Currently Reading. I've never been a big fan of "Currently Reading," as I tend to read too fast to bother keeping up with it. It also seems a bit cursed to me; any book I do take the time to add to that shelf tends to never get finished. If it were called "books I feel like I should read but actually feel rather lukewarm about," it would be more accurate.
I soon saw that you could add categories. I couldn't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure the first few I added were Mystery (because I read a lot of mysteries), Abandoned Midstream (because I'd never heard of DNF), Read Repeatedly as a Kid (because I initially tried to put all the books I ever remembered reading onto Goodreads), and Other Worlds (because I didn't realize how silly it was for me to combine every sci fi, fantasy, dystopian, magical realism, and other type of speculative fiction into one giant shelf). I'm still regretting that last one, as it has 317 books on it, and I dread the idea of going through and re-sorting them all into more specific shelves.
From then, I've added shelves sporadically and spontaneously. My additions fall into three general categories.
1. Genre and subject matter
Professional Reading, Poetry, Historical Fiction, Immigration, Bullying, Memoir & Biography, Adoption & Parenting, etc.
2. Type of material
Picture Book, Graphic Novel, Audiobook, Novel in Verse, etc.
3. Note to self
These are categories that help me to organize my reading and book buying (Wish List, In My Classroom Library, Mt. TBR 2017, etc) or are purely subjective comments about various books (Made Me Laugh, Feminist as Hell, Didn't Live up to Premise, etc.)
Sometimes things overlap. If I have a Call a Doctor shelf and a Mental Illness and Differences shelf, where does a book with a protagonist who's autistic go? Sometimes I start a very specific shelf, and then neglect it. Other times I adapt to a shelf without really registering that change in the shelf name. I have a shelf called Bullying unit 2014, which consists of books that my department used in, yes, a literature circle unit around the topic of bullying (guess when?). But since then, whenever I've read a book that seems like it would be a good fit for a middle school bullying unit, I add it to that list, even though it wasn't in our original syllabus. Somewhat similarly, when I first served as a Cybils judge last year, I put the books I had to read in a Cybils shelf, but since then I've added other books that I heard about because they were short-listed or winners for any Cybils category. It's a bit messy, as there are plenty of books that I'd already read that have been honored in the 11 years of Cybils awards, so the shelf really reflects books I heard about specifically through the Cybils website. And then there's the Award Winner shelf. I was thinking things like the Newbery or the National Book award, but Goodreads helpfully informs you when a book has won some obscure local award as well--so do those books make the shelf or not?
Whenever I get to dithering too much about that type of issue, I remind myself why I have this system in the first place. This is not a professional task, and it's not something I have to make clearly navigable for others. I just want to track my reading and see what my trends are. I want to be able to find books that I only half-remember later on. I want to sort the thousands of books I interact with into more manageable groups. And sometimes, I just want to browse my titles and Goodread's resources and enjoy myself. One fine day, sorting out that Other Worlds shelf will be exactly the kind of precise, yet untaxing, project I'm in the mood for.
If you're on Goodreads, how many shelves do you have? Which are your biggest? Besides that giant Other Worlds shelf, I have 572 on my YA shelf and 372 on my In My Classroom Library shelf. Do you find the shelving system useful overall?
Also, take my poll!