I’ve been screaming about how great StoryGraph is since I discovered it while it was still in beta in like October. Well, they officially launched in January and are still updating constantly (if you sign up for the site 1. find me please I need friends and 2. follow their twitter account for all the updates!) and I’m telling you it’s so much better than Goodreads.
I’m just saying I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Goodreads is just now deciding to test new updates after all these years of nothing.
That being said there are still some things that Goodreads does a little better that keeps me using it even while I enjoy using StoryGraph for a lot of reasons and even still I’ve noticed I’m picky in how I liked to organize and track my reading so I took inspiration from a variety of other book bloggers and created a reading spreadsheet to track exactly what I want in the way that I want to.
I decided maybe I’m not the only one looking for a way to track their reading that fits their style and I know some people are sticking with Goodreads just because it’s what they’re used to or they’re not sure how to approach a spreadsheet or a new platform so I thought I’d make this post to at least cover the basics!
First, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of both StoryGraph and Goodreads (for me personally obviously + what I’ve seen other readers mention) and then I’ll talk about my personal reading spreadsheet (I’ll link to the bloggers whose templates I used to create my own cause I made a sort of hybrid out of a few others to get what I was looking for).
The StoryGraph is a basically designed for mood readers. At it’s core it is all about book recommendations and finding the next book to read and specifically finding books you’ll enjoy. There are lots of moods to choose from and they are determined by reviews which ask you to pick the top three moods of the book amongst other things (more on the review portion later). Obviously there is some nuance here because some moods overlap or it’s dependent on the reader, but so far the system seems pretty good and it’s constantly evolving so I expect it to only get better.
The first thing I noticed was how clean the website looks and how easy the user interface is to navigate and manage. I mean sure if you’ve used Goodreads consistently for years it will be an adjustment and there are still a few things that Goodreads does a little better (more on that later) but first impressions are definitely in favor of The StoryGraph.
Here is a picture of my home page:
Your personal homepage highlights a section for what you’re currently reading, what you’ve read recently, 5 star reads, tagged books, reading challenge dashboard and then a side panel that leads to your reading stats and preferences as well as your TBR pile and owned books.
I typically leave a tab open to this page to make it easy to update when I start books and track my reading progress (a recent update) and then post a review right after I finish a book since it doesn’t have automatic updates like Goodreads.
The website automatically opens to a page where it recommends books based on your profile info as well as offers the option to explore based on your preferences aka what you’re in the mood for. It also features a side column with your currently reading and what’s being featured on the website. The other main highlight is your tbr pile which offers a great option to search and filter which I’ve pictured below:
StoryGraph is the mood readers dream because not only can you search their database for book recs based what you’re in the mood for you can narrow your search to your tbr list. As you can see in the picture there are a lot of moods you can search for as well as pace and not pictured is the standard sorting by fiction or nonfiction, genre, tags, page count, publication year, and if the books are part of a series, one of your reading challenges, or a book you owned.
As a complete book nerd one of the most appealing things about the StoryGraph was their stats page which is really just such a pretty page to look at but it’s also super useful (if you’re a stats person that is). Pictured below is my chart for the moods of the books I’ve read so far this year.
The stats page also breaks down your books read by pace, page number, fiction vs nonfiction, genre, books/pages by month, and star ratings.
You can view stats by year, all-time, and month. If you pay for their plus plan you can even compare two time periods (say if you want to compare this month to last March).
Because the website does these stats all for me it means I don’t feel like I need to include them in my google sheet which saves me some time and energy.
I also really enjoy the tags aspect of the site which functions basically like Goodreads shelves but without the complication of “exclusive shelves” which are the bane of my existence. Basically, StoryGraph still has “shelves” for currently reading, read, to read, and did not finish. And then you can create any and all tags your little heart desires AND you can add books to them without having to put them on any of those aforementioned shelves.
Pictured below you can catch a glimpse of some of my tags:
I like tags because it lets me organize books by pub year, imprint, genre, representation, books to avoid, books I have arcs of, etc without having them clutter up my shelves or tbr.
Other things of note:
I love the way that the reviews are set up because I have such a hard time remembering to write up reviews on Goodreads because I always want to wait for a few days and then it just slips my mind. But on StoryGraph it has questions that you can just quickly answer in addition to writing up a review and by answering those questions not only are you helping the algorithm and therefore getting the books to readers who will love them but it also helps me at least when I come across the book again and need a refresher.
The review page asks questions regarding character diversity, character flaws, the book moods, trigger warnings, and if it’s plot or character driven among other things. It also offers an advanced starred ranking that lets you rank in .25 increments which has done wonders for the accuracy of ratings and makes me feel less guilty about starred rankings (post on that to come).
As I mentioned above the site already has a DNF option built in rather than you having to make your own shelf but even better in one of the recent updates they gave you the option to set a yearly page goal and announced that in an upcoming update they’ll have it so pages from a DNF will count toward your yearly goal.
The biggest bonus of all is that it’s not owned by Amazon and was founded, built, and ran by a Black woman.
They are very open and transparent with what they’re working on and what updates are coming to the site (they even have a public roadmap) so if you’re not quite ready to make the leap I highly recommend following them on twitter and checking in on the updates!
Obviously, there is no automatic syncing between kindle and the website, but that’s just a matter of adjustment and also I’ve been having issues recently when I try to switch books on my kindle it’ll mark the first one as read on Goodreads even if I was only 30% in which is annoying so I’ve stopped syncing my kindle with Goodreads anyway.
Additionally, as someone pursuing a career in publishing and also using these websites to check info for my blogging it’s a tad frustrating that the publisher/imprint and pub date (not just year) aren’t listed unless I go into the browse editions page for a book which is a bit clunkier than Goodreads where everything is on one page. At least on the website, we’re going to ignore the existence of the Goodreads app which is terrible.
Finally, if you use Goodreads mostly for the community aspect it might be a good idea to hold off a little longer before making the switch or continue to use Goodreads for that part even as you set up your StoryGraph account because that part is definitely still in development. They’ve been very transparent that they’re primary goal in creating the website was to offer a way to track reading and provide better recommendations so the community aspect took a back seat but now it’s at the top of their list in a lot of their upcoming updates so it will be neat to see how that develops.
I feel like most people reading this post are already familiar with Goodreads since it’s been around forever and pretty much functioned the same way for the last decade 🙄
So for this post I’m going to stick to the things I still enjoy and keep me using the site for right now.
First is the cover display option for my personal shelves as pictured below:
As I mentioned above you can sort your StoryGraph shelves by most of these but there’s no cover view option which I like since covers tend to stick with me and make it easy for me to find a book I’m thinking of especially if I can’t remember the title or author. It also helps when I’m trying to find books to feature on my rec lists because remembering hundreds of books is a lot to ask but I can quickly scan through the covers and add them to a list to feature.
The search function on Goodreads is typically more advanced because it offers suggestions as you type vs. StoryGraph you have to finish your search and go to a results page which just takes a few more steps. That being said the search function on Goodreads has been extra glitchy the past few months and made it impossible to search books at all unless you had the direct link.
But the two main reasons I still keep my Goodreads updated is to show authors and publishers interest (I know authors, particularly debuts, keep an eye on tbr adds and I want to show them my support any way I can) and the kindle sync feature. Yea, I said the kindle sync for reading tracking was a little glitchy BUT it still syncs my highlighted quotes and notes and makes it easy to access through Goodreads which is nice when it comes time for me to write up my blog review and I want to find quotes to feature or remember what line made me feel a certain way.
The most obvious downside is that the website hasn’t seen an update of any significance since Amazon acquired it in 2013 if not before that and you can tell as soon as you open it because it’s clunky and not very pretty and it’s main driving force is the community aspect and people having used it for so long.
Additionally, as I mentioned the exclusive shelves function is just super annoying and too many steps for me (which I realize is ironic as someone writing a post about my three different methods of reading tracking but I’m picky 🤷🏼♀️).
I could rant for days about how much I hate Goodreads even as I’m still using it, but I’ll leave it at this – take the chance and import your Goodreads shelves to the StoryGraph (it takes up to a day or two depending on how many books you have) and just test it out because chances are it will change your reading life.
I’m a person that needs to have things in multiple places as driving force to follow through (hence why I have to do lists in addition to reminders and notes and so on) so when I got into book blogging and discovered how other bloggers had created spreadsheets I couldn’t resist.
I found it useful enough that I curated my own spreadsheet for this year based on Fadwa @ Word Wonders, Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea, and Kal @ Reader Voracious. I highly recommend checking them out because they wrote in depth posts and created amazing templates (also all of their content is just amazing and everyone should follow them). I combined what I liked from all three and adjusted based on what info that I wanted to track and on what worked best for me. I’m still tinkering with what I actually need/want to track so I’m betting next year’s iteration will look even more different.
First, I knew I wanted a sheet to track my tbr, if you haven’t figured it out yet I’m a big mood reader so this way even as I pick up other things I have a set list of books I’ve been meaning to read for awhile. This year I added a priority column which is really more to help me keep an eye on upcoming releases I want to read and preorder. Additionally, I have a status column so I know if I own the book, have it on hold at my library, preordered, etc. Once I’ve read a book instead of deleting the row I hide it because I want to see at the end of the year how many I managed to read. Basically, it’s not a hard or fast list it’s more of a guiding factor.
Second, I wanted a sheet to track my reading (obviously) and specifically I wanted to break it up by month as you can see in the photo below. I track info about the author, my rec level, steam level, trigger warnings, info about the book, the characters, and also publisher info (which is again primarily because I want to see what imprints I’m reading from the most).
All of the above data from my monthly reading sheet goes into a separate sheet for stats where I make these pretty pie charts to help me visualize my data. I have a lot of info I want to track, but mainly I want to see where my reading is lacking in terms of genre and representation and adjust accordingly. You can see below how some of this ends up looking!
Finally, I had already made a sheet of all of the owned ebooks I have and transferred that onto this sheet as a reminder that I have a lot of books on my kindle I should read before buying new books because I want to make a better point this year of reading books I already own especially as I buy more books.
Additionally, I wanted to do better at tracking how much I spend on books, but I also wanted to track how much I save because I borrow a lot of my books from the library and I buy a lot of books on sale, but this year I’ve also decided to try and overcome my book buying guilt and splurge on some special editions or physical copies of my fave books, but at the same time I’m me and don’t want to go overboard. What I do here is break it up by month and mark what I paid vs retail cost and at the end of the month I add those two up and subtract the difference to see how much I spent but also how much I saved.
As a bonus I added a sheet to track fanfiction I read which basically just means I write down the title, author, ship, and fic length because I tend to read longer fanfiction and I want to see how much I read in a year (this might be a mistake we shall see in my end of year wrap up).
I hope this helped and if anyone has any questions or would like a more indepth look/tutorial/template please let me know!
Also you’ll notice I didn’t include Notion in this post. I love using Notion and I know a lot of people use it for their reading tracking but personally I’ve found I’m more comfortable with Google Sheets and I stick to using Notion for tracking tasks and my content calendar and so on.
That being said if you’d be interested in seeing/reading how I use Notion via a walkthrough or whatever please let me know!
💫 Do you track your reading? If so, what works best for you? What’s most important to you when tracking?