I knew that when I stopped using Facebook and Twitter for a month, I would inevitably find something else to take their place. For a while, it was Instagram, but I'm not following many people on there yet, so it doesn't take long to scroll through all the photos.
In the past week or so, I've discovered a website called goodreads and I'm a little bit obsessed with it! Basically, as you rate books (and review them, if you wish), it recommends similar titles to you. You can either add them to your 'want to read' shelf (which you can subdivide into more specific shelves), or you can click on 'not interested' so that it doesn't recommend those type of books to you.
It's free to join, and you only need to begin by rating 20 books, from 1 to 5 stars. Once you've done that, it starts making recommendations, but the more books you read, the more accurate the suggestions will be, in theory.
I think it's an American site, so there are obviously hundreds, probably thousands, of US authors on there. As my reading tastes are now quite specific, it's taken me a while to whittle down the recommendations to the kind of books I want to read, but I'm getting there. For example, there isn't a specific genre category for ghost stories. There is one for Paranormal, but that tends to bring up loads of vampire and werewolf novels. The Mystery, Suspense and Thriller categories cover a lot of the same books as the Paranormal one, as well as lots of crime fiction.
I've found the best thing was to add as many books as I could from my favourite genres, and the recommendations slowly started coming through. When I rated my first 20 books after joining, I chose the Twilight series of novels (among others), simply because they came up in the list, and I have read them. However, that led to more suggestions for vampire novels, which don't interest me, so I've since deleted them from my 'read' shelf. Instead I've added books like Dark Matter by Michelle Paver, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and The Woman In Black by Susan Hill - really great ghost stories, which are gradually bringing in better suggestions for similar novels. I've also added the whole Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon - you wouldn't believe how many other novels there are out there about women who find themselves transported through time to the Highlands of Scotland! I'm biased towards Outlander (maybe it wasn't the first?) but I can't help feeling Ms Gabaldon's idea is being ripped off, countless times! Needless to say, I'm sticking with Jamie and Clare!
My 'to-read' shelf (on the site, not in my house!) is growing ever larger, because I've been spending a lot of time trawling through the recommendations and finding new books that I'd like to read. I'm then adding them to my wishlist on ReadItSwapIt, which I've started using again. I've given away so many books though in the past few months, I'm finding it hard to find books that I'm willing to swap! At the time I just really wanted to have a clear-out, but now I'm wishing I'd kept them all. Oh well, I might have to start trawling the charity shops again!
Apparently, if you review books on GoodReads, you can link your review back to your blog (Blogger and WordPress only). I haven't reviewed any books yet, but I'm thinking of trying it with my next one. The trouble is, I'm nervous about my thoughts being (potentially) available to the thousands of goodreads members; my reviews are definitely not the most eloquent or in-depth, and I fear they will be quite inadequate by comparison. At least when I do my reviews on this blog, I know that hardly anyone reads them!
Anyway, that is my latest obsession! I believe this is my profile on there, so if you join, or are already a member, feel free to say hi!