My Search for a Goodreads Alternative

20 January 2022

I think we can all agree Goodreads is lacklustre in what it offers to us as readers. There are numerous flaws with it, from the terrible search engine to the lack of half-star ratings (which I know is not in demand from everyone). It offers us little in terms of analysing our reading and the only reading challenge you can do is purely numbers based on how many books you read each year. And my biggest complaint is that things which are accessible on the desktop site are completely absent on the app. Considering Goodreads is owned by Amazon I don't think it's unreasonable for us to expect more and for there to be better investment into it. Amazon began as an online bookstore so they should be able to invest in an online book community site, or at least have a similar search engine employed on the site because I sometimes can't find the book I want using the exact title, make it make sense!

As we're all aware of the flaws when it comes to Goodreads it should be no surprise that I want an alternative to it. In fact, my alternative used to be keeping a spreadsheet of the books I read. A blogger I followed used to release a spreadsheet each year you could track your reading and your purchases, and it had a whole sheet for stats to analyse everything. It was great, I've googled to find out who created it because I know they were a blogger who disappeared for a while, and it was Crini who has released a spreadsheet for 2022! I wish I'd known this before I went about creating my own. To be fair, it was fun messing about with spreadsheets and formulas (something I never thought I would say, is this adulthood or am I just a little tragic in my old age?) so it wasn't time wasted. If nothing else, I had to learn how to use a few more formulas (with the help of google) it was an education. Anyway, I used to keep the spreadsheet, but it involved me finding out the number of pages, genre, release date, etc. It was a lot of my own time having to be invested to update, which was fine but I always liked being able to use it in conjunction with a book tracking site so I could use that to give me the info I needed. And so, I decided to make 2022 the year I used another book site to see if it was better. I've found 2 so far that seem good so this is only my thoughts on Storygraph and Literal but I'm happy to hear if you have or know of other sites for me to try.


Storygraph I'd heard about on Twitter over the past year or so. I'd already signed up and had an account, so this was the first site I turned to in my quest to replace Goodreads and still provide me with the functionality I wanted and needed. 


  • I love that Storygraph has half star and quarter star ratings. I can get way more specific with my ratings which is really a godsend. I used to always round up and then give my half star rating in the actual review on Goodreads which was never ideal.
  • The review section gives you more prompts to be able to really analyse pace/mood/character development etc which I know will appeal to many. That data also then gets used in the stats tab to analyse your reading which is so smart, and anyone really interested in their stats will love that aspect of the site.
  • You can join other reading challenges that have been added to the site beyond just the number of books you read each year. It's great for those reading challenges with prompts as you can easily add a book you've read to that prompt and see what progress you're making with your challenge. This is obviously limited to people adding challenges to the site, but I've really enjoyed it and am more likely to participate in a challenge that is included there for me. It's one of my favourite parts of Storygraph as it feels like I'm keeping everything in one place like I did with my reading spreadsheet.
  • You get better recommendations, it's more detailed and you can filter based on mood or pacing. It just gives you way more control rather than the ridiculous recommendations Goodreads likes to offer you. Obviously, that kind of filter is subjective based on other people's reviews of the book (please, correct me if I'm wrong on that one) but it's still more personalised than Goodreads.
  • You can import your Goodreads shelves, but you are limited to them being on your read, currently reading, finished, want to read, and DNF shelves. I have quite a few exclusive shelves on Goodreads, so it made it a little awkward getting everything where I wanted but there are tags so all is not lost.
  • The buying links aren't Amazon! I loved the total separation from that as a choice for buying. It would be nice if they had a few more options on there as there is just Bookshop and Blackwell's for the UK but I appreciate Amazon isn't even an option to push you to look elsewhere and I know I can easily navigate to the book site I might want to buy from instead.
  • You can select editions for the books just like with Goodreads, and I think users can add editions too. I like knowing I'm looking at the right book when I add it to my read list. I have a thing about trying to get the correct cover on my shelves too. It's a whole thing.


  • I say I like that there are more prompts and detail in the review section but it's also a big-time investment every time you review a book. You also aren't immediately prompted to review once marking something as read. It's not major because you don't always have time, but I often need that prompt otherwise I put it off or forget. But then if you don't complete then your stats won't be the same. 
  • Navigation isn't intuitive on either the website or the app. When I first began using the site again, I struggled to find where things were, like my DNF shelf and things like that. I know this is something that may ease with time as I get used to the site and app, but I would have liked it to be easier to navigate from the start. There is a reading challenge you can join which does help a little in learning the site and that is smart. It's like a tutorial that also gets you to read.
  • Less community focused. I know there's a community tab and I like that there's a dedicated search for other people but it's difficult to find them because it's either name or email. It's not directly on your feed either, so you have to go look at that tab for info. I guess I would like the book tracking and community side to be more integrated in a similar way to Goodreads. I usually find myself using Storygraph with just the focus on what I've been reading and that doesn't make it stand out over using a spreadsheet to track this info.

Final thoughts

As you can see, my feelings are mixed about Storygraph. It has interesting features; I love the challenges tab and I know plenty of readers who will love the stats tab. I like that it's an independent, black-owned site so I want to support it, but there are things I would like to see improved. I know they're open to suggestions for improvements and it's still fairly new. I won't be abandoning it but it's also not currently offering me enough to leave Goodreads altogether and that is really what I am hoping to find.



On my quest to find a good alternative to Goodreads I stumbled across Literal. There weren't really any mentions on blogs for this one. I found it via Reddit so I wasn't sure what to expect going in but it looked like it offered what I was looking for so decided to try it. It had shelves and looked to have a community feel to it.


  • Extremely easy to navigate. I had none of the hesitancy and confusion that I had with Storygraoh, everything was very intuitive, and I navigated through so quickly. I know learning to navigate a website is easy enough, but I think to entice users away from Goodreads it's got to be easy to pick up otherwise people won't make the effort.
  • Quick and easy to import your Goodreads shelves and it will keep the shelves which you have created, which surprised me. I needed to go through and tidy them all up a little, but it was completely low effort. You're prompted right at the start to be able to do the import and you can import any time you're sitting at a computer. 
  • The community side is much more prominent. You can easily go through and follow people and you can join book clubs! It's more focused on the community side of things which is something I didn't realise I wanted until I saw the absence on my Storygraph feed. It's always fun to see what people are reading and reviewing but that side of things is obviously only good if you know plenty of people using the site too.
  • Highlights are added in an interesting way. I know on Goodreads when you highlight on kindle you can add those highlights to the site along with your notes, but it was always frustrating that you couldn't do that reading a physical book. On the Literal app you can take a picture of the page you're reading, and it will change that into text for you so it's easy to share highlights from books you're reading no matter what device or book you're reading. It's a very cool feature and I love it because I used to just take photos of stuff I wanted to highlight in physical books and frequently forgot which book it was from looking back through my photos. 
  • It looks nice. I know that's quite a subjective thing as tastes differ, but the UI is clean and when you go to your shelves, they load so much nicer than on Goodreads. It's not just the covers but the title and author loading in a list form. I used to always struggle to figure out what the book was just looking at the cover so it's nice to easily be able to browse through what you've got on your shelves and find the book you're looking for straight away.
  • Again, the buying links are very good on the site. Amazon is included in the list (it's at the top and takes you to the US site) but it does offer you an extensive list of book sites which is nice. I appreciated having the options, even though I'm going to navigate to the site I want to shop on myself.
  • Half star ratings are here and as soon as you mark a book as read a little pop up appears asking if you wish to review so you have that prompt to review. On the review page, you also have some words to describe your thoughts on the book which is great to help direct your thoughts when discussing a book.



  • You can't choose which edition you're reading of a book, or I've not been able to figure it out anyway. It's not major, it's probably me being so particular with my Goodreads books but I like having the correct edition for what I've read. I guess maybe if you search ISBN or something instead? I'm not sure, but there is a tick box for if you listened to the audiobook, but I've listened to no audiobooks since signing up, so I need to explore more.
  • You do have to go on a waitlist to join or find a friend to send one of their invites. It's not a major hassle, I think it took under a week for my invite to arrive once I joined the waitlist, but I know waiting for things is never fun and might put people off from joining.
  • No reading challenges, not even yearly reading. I notice that absence as I like to join challenges, but I suppose I could track those separately? But it's a major weakness in comparison to Storygraph there. I can create a shelf for the books I've read each year but it's nice having a little tracker, isn't it?
  • No stat tracking or anything. I do like seeing the stats tab on Storygraph to break down my reading, it's fun and I know plenty of people will hate not having that. 


My thoughts

I like Literal a lot more than Storygraph from my first use. It isn't perfect but it feels like there are a lot of unique things offered there and it seems to focus more on the community side of things. I think it would be cool to join a book club and be able to share your highlights and stuff there. But I love the reading challenges and stat tracking offered on Storygraph and actually think I'd use Storygraph as a simple book tracker even without reviewing for some of the features offered. It's difficult to compare those two sites to each other as Storygraph seems much more focused on the stats side of things while Literal has taken the community route. It's interesting how both sites have picked up on some things lacking in Goodreads or improved upon features Goodreads already offered. I think the creators for both sites knew there were plenty of things to be improved upon and upped the competition. Have I found a site to completely replace Goodreads? No, but I've found two sites that offer so much more than Goodreads. I think if I could combine the two I would have my ideal website. Both sites have shown me things I didn't even know I wanted from Goodreads until I used the features they offered and realised they weren't there.

Have you used any book websites which are alternatives to Goodreads and which are your favourite? Have you used Storygraph or Literal, what did you think? Can we ever fully replace Goodreads or is it too ingrained in the book community?

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