How to Organize Your GoodReads Shelves

Posted on April 18, 2016 «
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organize goodreads shelves

Something had been bothering me for awhile—my GoodReads Shelves. I had duplicate and redundant shelves. The shelf names didn’t necessarily match the Genres I have on my blog. It just seemed a disorganized mess to me. So I decided to take a bit of time recently to make my shelves match my genres and do a bit a spring cleaning.


What You Need

  • A GoodReads account

  • Ultimate Book Blogger plugin or a list of your book reviews by genre

  • A book review blog


Quick plug! If you are a book blogger and have a WordPress self-hosted site, I highly recommend the Ultimate Book Blog plugin by Nosegraze. It’s an amazing tool that will help you organize your reviews, genres, author information and more! Check it out.


Getting Started

(That’s half the battle, right?)

  1. Log into GoodReads.
  2. Click My Books.
  3. Click (edit) next to bookshelves.
    organize goodreads shelves


What I Decided about My Shelves

  • I had too many exclusive shelves.
    From GoodReads: “All members have three default shelves (read, currently-reading, and to-read), which are mutually exclusive, meaning a book can only be on one of them.”

  • I wanted to create source shelves to track eBooks vs. audiobooks.
    Fun Fact: By tracking audiobooks on a shelf, I can pick a physical copy of the book so I get credit for the number of pages I read.

  • I wanted to narrow my books-i-own shelves. I had one for eBooks and audiobooks and just a general books-i-own shelf.


General Organization Tips

  • Limit your exclusive shelves. This ensures that you don’t end up with a single book on my read shelf and my to-read shelf.
    • My Exclusive Shelves: Read, To-Read (for giveaways), To-Read-Library and To-Read-Wishlist, Abandoned, To-Read-From-The-Library, To-Read-Owned, To-Read-Wishlist (for those books I want in my personal library)

  • Shelves I use frequently like books-i-own are sticky so they float to the top of my list.

  • All my shelves are sortable. Makes books easier to find on my shelves.

  • I only want GoodReads recommendations for books on my ‘read’ shelf.


Download these steps for future reference!

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How To Organize Your GoodReads Shelves

My goal was to match the Genres I use here on Second Run Reviews as much as possible to my shelves on GoodReads.

  1. Open up your Genre listing in one tab (or another screen if you have a multiple monitor setup). organize goodreads shelves

  2. Open GoodReads on another tab.

  3. Moving through your list in alphabetical order, create a new bookshelf that matches the Genre on your blog, but preface it with the letter z. organize goodreads shelves
    • Adding the letter ‘z’ to the start of your new shelf will cause it to fall to bottom of your list. This will make it easier to find and you will be able to tell your new shelf from your old shelf.

  4. Click on My Books above the Add a Shelf box to return to the listing of all your books. organize goodreads shelves

  5. Referencing the books in your Genre listing on your blog, use the smaller search box, search for those books currently listed on your shelves. organize goodreads shelves

  6. Click the ‘edit’ link under the shelves column and scroll down and add your new shelf. organize goodreads shelves
    • Don’t have a ‘shelves’ column? Click on the Settings link just to the right of the small search box and add it. You may wish to remove another column or two make it easier to the information.
      organize goodreads shelves

  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 until you have shelves the match your blog’s Genres.

  8. Move any books that you haven’t reviewed on your blog to your new shelves using the Batch Edit function.
    • After making my updates I now have 2 ‘mystery’ shelves. One is the old shelf and one of them is the new one (z-mystery). Select the OLD mystery shelf on the left and click Batch Edit next to the smaller search box. Change the ‘Shelf:’ drop down to the NEW mystery shelf, click select all just below the drop down and finally click the ‘add books to this shelf’ link. organize goodreads shelves
      Note: Keep an eye on how many pages you have per genre on your blog, you need to repeat this step for EACH page you have on a shelf.

  9. Return to your Edit Shelves screen and delete any duplicate shelves.

  10. Return to your Edit Shelves screen and remove the ‘z-‘ from the start of all your new shelves.

  11. Update the sortable, sticky, exclusive and/or recs columns on the ‘Edit Shelves’ page for your newly added lists.


Download these steps for future reference!

[wpdm_package id=’5164′]


Other Things That Happened

  • I started to cull my to-be-read list on GoodReads. If a book no longer looked interesting, I deleted it.

  • I noticed that I didn’t categorize some books “right.” Of course this is all subjective, but if I put one book in a series on the ‘fantasy’ shelf or in the fantasy genre, why didn’t I put all books on that shelf or genre?
    • You can batch edit books! For example, I want to place all of Diana Gabaldon’s books on my Reading Level-Adult shelf. So I searched for Diana Gabaldon on my shelves, hit enter and clicked Batch Edit next to the search box. Choose the shelf you want to add the books to from the dropdown. Click ‘select all’ just below the Shelf: drop down and click ‘add books to this shelf’. organize goodreads shelves


I’m feeling a bit better about my GoodReads Shelves now. They look a bit more organized. I’m sure I need to go back through and review some of books on my Read shelf to make sure everything is on the shelf or shelves I want things to be on. But that’s a project for another day.


organize goodreads shelves

How do you organize your GoodReads shelves? Is there a method to your madness?

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15 responses to “How to Organize Your GoodReads Shelves

    • I think this project took me an entire afternoon. Having a dual monitor setup helped, but it definitely falls under one of those tasks I thought a lot about doing and dreaded doing it!

  1. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for quite awhile, Terri. It’s a daunting task for me. But then you break it all down into steps and make it seem doable! Thanks for sharing how I too can organize my shelves! 😀

  2. Nice idea and a good description of your process! I’ve already done some of this; most of the genres I use on my blog are also among my shelves for Goodreads, though I’m a long way from having every book on my “read” shelves also categorized by genre yet. I’ve kept my exclusive shelves pretty simple, too. Besides the three default shelves you mentioned, I’ve added a DNF shelf (for books I’m not going to finish), a hibernating shelf (for books I’ve started and plan to finish eventually, but I’m not really “currently reading”) and a “someday” shelf. The idea behind the “someday” shelf was to use it for books that intrigue me but that I don’t plan to read in the immediate future. The problem is, I still need to move a lot of the “want to read” books over to “someday”, so there are currently about 600 books on each shelf! Which is obviously ridiculous. Hopefully I can find some time to work on that this month.

    Again, great post!

  3. Good on you for organising your shelves!! Mine are pretty much organised since I used goodreads ALL THE TIME. XD I organise by genre and star-rating mostly, and I have a few shelves for obscure things too aaand some “best of the year” shelves so I can remember what I loved! 😀 I need to cull my to-read shelf again though. AGH. TOO MANY. XD

    • That’s the hardest thing, I think, Cait. Culling that TBR shelf. My biggest fear is deleting a book and then suddenly wanting to read it and not being able to recall the name! #bookwormproblems

  4. Organizing goodreads is on my list of things to do this summer. I have a to-be-read shelf that only consists of books I own that I plan to read (including review copies). I use a separate wishlist for books I am actually hoping to get soon. I try to put things in “proper” categories, but I do wish i would have started a “books I own” list. I also want to be more specific about where I acquired the book. Ugh that is going to take a while. Thanks for sharing how you organize goodreads!

    • Well, if you have a smartphone download the GoodReads app. You can scan the UPCs of any books you own! 🙂

      Good luck with organizing your shelves. It is a task that takes a while, but it felt so good when I was done!