This post was written on 2015-10-28 and revised, updated, and published on 2016-08-04 for some reason.
Goodreads is a fantastic resource for discovering books. There are most likely some alternative websites that perform similar functions. For me, all I wanted as a child was some way to track my massive Boxcar Children book collection. I wanted to record every Encyclopedia Brown and Hardy Boys novel that I finished. I wanted to remember that I read three books per day during the summers. I enjoyed reading. Goodreads would have been cool to have at that point in my life. Since I was a nerd, I can remember at age 11 having an alphabetized spreadsheet of my few hundred book library in my room taped to my bookshelves. I would meticulously sort through the stacks to make sure everything was in order.
Then I went to public school and was forced into an “Accelerated Reader” program. There is nothing wrong with this in theory, as long as teachers and librarians understand that every student has different ambitions and that forcing someone to read only “Level 12+” books is not a good way to educate. I ended up testing on books that I had read previously in order to get around the system. It was not good. It genuinely killed my love for reading.
High school AR was a blur of testing on books that I had read Cliff Notes for or had watched the movie rendition of, as well as the few classics that we were occasionally included in our English curriculum and that I had actually read and had enjoyed. Looking back, I genuinely wish that I had been more motivated to read more classics and foundational works before I had so many responsibilities and so little free time.
Four and a half years of university engineering curriculum included a single English class. This was not great for fostering any love of books. I also was required to purchase a lot of extremely overpriced technical textbooks that were useless but took up my shelves and all of my time. The only good experience I had with books in college is that a roommate published one.
Anyway, Goodreads is nice when I don’t forget to use it. Somehow I had 38 unfinished books in my “Currently Reading” list in October. I stopped buying most books a couple of years ago when I realized that I just wasn’t actually reading all of them and they were just piling up on my bookshelves, wasting money and shelf space. Lately I have been borrowing books from the local library, which is really convenient. The only problem I have now is that I check out too many books at once and end up not finishing any of them. They are also really inconvenient to find in the house and also to travel with. This is why I have started preferring audio books (also because of my unhealthy obsession with podcasts, which I just wrote a post about).
TL;DR – Read more books. They teach you things and take you places.