Goodreads Search

Looking for information on a specific book on Goodreads?  The most common criteria that you can use to search for it are the book's name, author, or international standard book number (I.S.B.N.).  But there are other things that you can look for about a book on Goodreads, too!  And it's all relatively easy to do!

How to search on Goodreads

  1. Go to in your web browser and log in.

  2. Click in the search box across the top (it will say "Author / Title / ISBN" if it's empty) and type in a book's name, author, or ISBN to search for it.  As you do so, Goodreads will give you suggestions as to what book you might be looking for. 

    You can click a result in the list that appears to go directly to that book, or click the magnifying glass () icon (or press the "Enter" key on your keyboard) to search for exactly what you typed in.

  3. On the next screen, you will be able to see the results for what you searched for.

    At the top of the results page, if you want to perform a new search, click in the search box (it will say "Search by Book Title, Author, or ISBN" if it's empty) and type in something new to search for.  Then click Search.   You can also click one of the buttons below this box to search for "All" results, by "Title", by "Author", or by "Genre".

    In addition, you can click one of the tabs above the results to see different kinds of results, including:

    Books: books found by name, author, or ISBN

    Groups: virtual book clubs on Goodreads whose descriptions match your search terms

    Quotes: passages that contain your search terms, or that are by people or in books that match your search terms

    Events: Book club meetings, author appearances, and other events posted on Goodreads whose descriptions match your search terms

    Stories: original works by Goodreads users whose descriptions or texts contain your search terms

    People: users on Goodreads whose (user) names contain your search terms

    Listopia: lists of favourite books of users on Goodreads, which contain descriptions, books, or authors that match your search terms

    Trivia: fun knowledge-testing questions related to authors or books that match your search terms

    Click on a part of a result in gold font for more information.


That's pretty much all there is to searching on Goodreads!  Pretty easy, right?

Using Goodreads to Download Books

There are certain books on Goodreads that you can save in their entirety as files on your computer, so you can read them any time you want!  However, there are others that only allow you to download a small section, and others that you must pay for before you can download them (we discussed this in our How to Read Books on Goodreads tutorial).  We’ll go over how to download various types of books from Goodreads in this lesson.

How to download e-books from Goodreads

  1. Go to in your web browser and log in.

  2. Click the small triangle next to the Explore option in the top menu, and select Ebooks from the menu that appears.

  3. Once you’re in the “Ebooks” section, click the “Sort By” drop-down menu to arrange the available e-books in different ways.  These include how often they’re downloaded or how generally popular they are, which ones you can download for free and which ones have to be purchased, the cost of purchasable e-books, or e-books that have been recently added to Goodreads.

    You can also click in the search bar on the right-hand side (it will say “Search by Title or Author” if it’s empty) and type in the name or author of an e-book that you’re looking for.  Then click Find eBooks.

    When you find a book that you want to download, click Download eBook.

  4. If there is only one version of this e-book available, the download prompt will appear automatically.  Otherwise, the left side of the table will tell you the format and language of the file.  In this case, the only file available is a Portable Document Format (P.D.F.), and it’s in English (“eng”).

    NOTE: PDF files can be opened with a program called Adobe Reader. Click here for instructions on how to download and install Adobe Reader.

    Click Download in the right side of the table beside the version of the file that you want to download.

  5. The next screen will show you the version of the file that you have chosen, along with recommended ways for reading this specific type of file (click one of the options here to find and download/install the necessary program).  Otherwise, when the save prompt appears, click the button beside “Save File”, and click OK.

  6. At this point, you can rename your file (if you wish), and then use the explorer window that appears to select a place on your computer where you want to save your file.  Then click Save.

  7. Now, simply find the file where you saved it on your computer, and double-click it to open it.

  8. Presto!  There’s your book, all ready for you to read!

How to find places to download books with Goodreads

In addition to downloading books directly from Goodreads, you can also use Goodreads to find a place where you can download a book if it isn’t available on Goodreads.  Simply click on a book to go to its information page.

Once you’re there, click Stores for a list of stores that might be able to sell you that book, and then click on a store name to go to a page where you can buy that book from that store.  Depending on which store you choose, you might be able to get an electronic (i.e. “e-book”) version of the book to download, instead of having a hard copy shipped to you.


Anyway, that’s about all that we can tell you about downloading books from Goodreads!

How to Read a Book on Goodreads

Can you read books on Goodreads?

As a matter of fact, you can!  Goodreads has a small collection of electronic books (“e-books”) that you can read.  Some of them you can read in their entirety on the website, while others will only have short sections available for reading, and still others will require you to follow Goodreads to a place where you must purchase the full book if you want to read more than just an excerpt.  Some books you can even download straight to your computer (or at least small excerpts of them)!

We will cover the last scenario in our How to Download Books from Goodreads tutorial.  For now, we’ll deal with books that you can read right on Goodreads itself.

How do you read books on Goodreads?

  1. Go to in your web browser and log in.

  2. Click the small triangle beside Explore in the menu across the top, and click Ebooks.

  3. Once you’re in the “Ebooks” section, you can click the “Sort By” menu to sort available e-books by how often they’re downloaded or how generally popular they are, which ones you can read for free and which ones you have to buy, the price of purchasable e-books, or which ones have been recently added.  (HINT: try the Readable option to find ones that you can read for free.)

    You can also click in the search bar on the right-hand side (labelled as “Search by Title or Author”) and type in an e-book that you’re looking for based on its name or its author’s name.  Then click Find eBooks.

    When you find a book that you want to read, click Read Book to start reading it.

  4. This will open a new window where you can read the e-book.  Each chapter or section of the book displays on the same page, so just scroll down to read more of that section or chapter.  We’ve highlighted the controls with red numbers; the corresponding captions below the screenshot will tell you what they do.

    1. Contents – Click here to see a list of sections in this e-book.  Click on a section to jump to it.

    2. Back to Book – Click here to go to the information page about this book.

    3. Previous Chapter – Click here to go to the previous chapter or section of this book.

    4. Next Chapter – Click here to go to the next chapter or section of this book.

    5. Zoom Controls – Click the “+” button here to zoom in and make the text bigger, or click the “” button to zoom out and make the text smaller.

    6. Quick Info – Clicking this button will bring up a window showing you a quick summary of this book, as well as how much progress you’ve made in terms of reading it.

    7. Embed – Clicking this button will give you special codes that you can use to share a link to this e-book on your website or social media channels, or display the current part of the book on your website or online journal (“blog”).

    8. Save Place – Click here to have Goodreads remember where you stopped in this book, so when you start reading this book again, you can pick up from where you left off.

How to purchase e-books on Goodreads

There are some e-books on Goodreads that you will need to purchase in order to read them.  You will recognize them by the fact that their Read eBook buttons have money amounts beside them.  Don’t worry; clicking one of these buttons won’t make you immediately buy the book.  It will just take you to a preview of that book.

You can read a short excerpt from the book, and once you are done, you can click Buy eBook if you want to purchase it and read the rest.

You will be taken to a screen where you can input your billing information. 

Click in the appropriate boxes or drop-down menus and enter:

  • your name (as it appears on your credit card)
  • your credit card number
  • your credit card’s expiry date
  • your credit card’s security code (move your mouse over the “?”for help finding this)
  • your street address (and unit address, if applicable)
  • your city of residence
  • your state/province/territory of residence
  • your area’s mailing code
  • your country of residence

Once you have all of this filled out, click Purchase.   Your credit card will be immediately charged.

Now, not only can you read this e-book on Goodreads, but you can also download an “ePub” version of the file and read it on your computer with something like Adobe Digital Editions (click this link and follow the instructions to download this electronic reading program), or on your mobile device with a similar program!


There you go!  Now you know how to read books on Goodreads!

How to Use Goodreads

Once you've signed up for Goodreads, it's time to start using the website!  How, you ask?  Well, that's a bit of a difficult question, since there are a lot of different things that you can do on Goodreads!  We'll be going over some of them in our later tutorials, but for now, the first step is to log into your (new) account. 

To do this, go to in your web browser.  When you reach the Goodreads website, click in the boxes in the top-right corner and type in your email address and password, respectively.  If you're using a public computer (or one that other people might use), you may want to click the check box next to "Remember Me" to prevent yourself from staying logged in after you finish; this prevents others from being able to automatically access your account by accident. 

Click Sign In when you're done.

Now that you're logged into your account, let's have a look around at some of the features that you can use on Goodreads.

Home Screen

This shows you general updates on what's going on surrounding you and the books, genres, authors, or friends that you like on Goodreads.  You can see popular books, new events, blog (online journal) posts, ratings and reviews, and more.  You can click the gear icon () here to filter your updates based on what they are or who they come from.

You can also click the Discussions tab to switch over to chats you've been having with other Goodreads groups or members about certain books.  You can filter those updates in a similar manner.

My Books

This is a list of all of the books that you have added to your collection on Goodreads, including those you have already read, are in the process of reading, or want to read next.  The left part of the screen shows you this information, organized into categories called "bookshelves".  The number next to each bookshelf shows you how many books are in the shelf.  You can also create new bookshelves by clicking Add Shelf, typing in a name for your bookshelf, and then clicking Add.

The main part of the screen lets you see details about the book, including its title, author, average rating, your rating, which bookshelf you have it on, the date you finished reading it, and the date you added it to your collection.  Some of this information can be edited by clicking Edit beside it. 

At the top of the screen, you can change how many books display at once, and what information is displayed about them, with the Settings menu.  You can also use Batch Edit to quickly move multiple books between shelves, see graphs of how quickly you read books in Stats, Print your list of books, or change how your book lists display.


Here is where you can see and link to information on the people you have connected with on Goodreads, including books that they're reading or are popular among them, as well as what you have to say about them.  You can also see information on readers or authors that you're following, as well as people who may be following you.

You can also come here to add more friends; the process is pretty much the same as it was in step 3 of our How to Sign Up for Goodreads tutorial.


If you've rated at least 20 books on Goodreads, Goodreads will recommend certain books to you, based on what you like or don't like.  You can use the menus on the right to sort your recommendations by what books are on each of your bookshelves, or by what genres you like. 

You can also ask for or receive recommendations from your friends or other Goodreads users, or give some recommendations of your own.  Or, if you don't think you'll like a book, click Not Interested to remove it from your recommendations.


This screen lets you browse for books based on their genres, their popularity, how recently they've been released, and more.  It also allows you to search for books if you're looking for one with a specific name, author, or I.S.B.N. 

…and more!

Clicking the small triangle next to the Explore menu will give you even more options of things to do on Goodreads!

These include:

  • Genres — Browse books from your favourite genres, or search for a genre by name.

  • Listopia — View, create, and edit lists of books based on certain themes, such as "Best Fantasy Novels" or "Best Books of the 20th Century".

  • Giveaways — Enter to win free books!  Also, check the terms of each giveaway, and review giveaways that you've entered.

  • Choice Awards — View the most popular books on Goodreads in each genre for each year.  You may even be able to vote for your favourites on Facebook or Twitter!

  • Popular — Browse the most popular books on Goodreads of a month or year, based on how high their ratings are and how often they are added to users' bookshelves.

  • Goodreads Voice — Get a look between the lines of your favourite books with profiles and interviews of popular authors and users on Goodreads.

  • Ebooks — Don't just read about books on Goodreads… actually read them!  Goodreads has a small selection of electronic books, or "e-books", that you can preview, purchase, read for free, or even download right onto your computer! 

  • Trivia / Quizzes — How well do you know your favourite books?  "Trivia" allows you to answer random questions submitted by users about famous books, while "Quizzes" lets you answer specific sets of questions about a particular book or author.  You can even create your own quizzes!

  • Quotes — Looking for memorable lines from your favourite books, or maybe some legendary quips by famed authors?  You'll find them here.  You can also add some of your favourites!

  • Groups — Find and join custom book clubs of users on Goodreads and get talking about your favourite books, or create your own group!

  • Creative Writing — Original stories and poems written by Goodreads users like you.  Browse by genre, see what's new or popular, check out what your friends have written, or share your own writing!

  • People — See what the Goodreads community is up to.  Search for users based on whether they're currently online, where they are in the world, what they're reading or reviewing, or how popular they are.

  • Events — Find out what's going on in the literary world in real life!  Search for an author appearance, book club meeting, book swap, or other event near where you are, see what your friends are arranging, or create your own meet-up!

There's more to discover about Goodreads, so stick with us and check out some of our other tutorials!

How Does Goodreads Work?

Goodreads is what is known as a "social cataloging" service.  What that means is that it essentially functions as a database of information about a particular subject (in this case, books), but it also allows individual users to discover and organize this information in their own way.  Then, people can compare how they've organized the information that they've found, and use these comparisons to find information on new things that they might like. 

Other websites that work like this include IMDb for movies and television shows (see our IMDb course), or Pinterest for images or image-accompanied information (see our Pinterest course).

In general, there are five major elements to using Goodreads:

  1. Creating a profile to express yourself with

  2. Building a virtual collection of book information

  3. Connecting with friends and other users of Goodreads

  4. Joining groups and discussions to have deeper conversations about books

  5. Learning the essentials about a book, including picking up a copy for yourself!

Create and edit your profile

Click on the little triangle at the rightmost corner of the top menu and click Edit Profile.  Here, you can make a name for yourself on Goodreads… literally! 

Input your first, middle, and last name, and maybe pick a username and profile photo for yourself.  Say where you are in the world, when you were born, and what gender you are.  Put a link to your website, say what you're passionate about, spill on what kinds of books you like to read, and just write a general introduction to who you are, so that other people on Goodreads can get to know a little about you. 

Or, if you're not too keen on putting yourself out there, you can choose who gets to see your information, or just not put it in at all (you only need a first name).

Build and organize your virtual book collection

Almost anywhere you see information about a book on Goodreads, you can rate it out of five stars and/or mark it as Read, Want to Read, Currently Reading, or generally add it to one of your virtual "bookshelves".

Once you add books to your collection, you can organize them on virtual "bookshelves" by genre, author, when you read them (or want to read them)… pretty much however you want!  In addition, once you  rate at least 20 books, Goodreads will use your ratings to steer you towards information on more books that you might like.  You can even ask for and receive recommendations from other users on Goodreads! 

For more information on organizing your bookshelves and receiving recommendations, check out our How to Use Goodreads tutorial (here).

Find friends and people whom you want to follow

Another way to quickly grow your collection on Goodreads is by comparing notes with other users.   One way to do this is to find people you know who already use Goodreads.  You can do so by checking contact information your email and social media accounts against what Goodreads has.

You can also click on a user's name on Goodreads to see their information, and ask to add them as a friend or follow their activity…

…or click on an author's name to see their information, and follow what they do on Goodreads.

Join groups and discussions

Want to get even deeper into the social aspect of Goodreads?  Click the small triangle beside Explore and click Groups to see a list of user-made book clubs on Goodreads that you can join.  Some are dedicated to a specific genre, others to a specific author, and still others to a specific book or book series.

Or, if there isn't a group dedicated to your favourite book of all time, head over to the book's information page by clicking on it, and then scroll to the bottom of the page.  You'll see discussion topics about the book; click one to see what other Goodreads users have to say.  You can post a new comment, reply to other comments, or sort comments in different ways.

Get up close and personal with your favourite books

There's more to a book than a name and its author, obviously!  Pretty much anywhere you see a book, you can click on its cover or its name to see more information on it, including its genres, ratings, plot summaries, questions that Goodreads users have answered about it, and more. 

One of the most useful things you can do is have Goodreads connect you to a store where you can order a physical or electronic copy of the book, or borrow a copy from a local library.

You can also click the small triangle beside Explore and click Ebooks, and then choose from a selection of electronic books to preview, buy, read, or even save to your computer! 


As you can see, there's a lot that you can do on Goodreads.  And we're going to walk you through how to do the bulk of it, so stick with us!

How to Sign Up for Goodreads

Are you ready to start organizing your literary collection on Goodreads?  The first step is to sign up for an account on the website.

How to create a Goodreads account

  1. Go to in your web browser.

  2. Look for the section near the top labelled "New Here?  Create a Free Account!"  Click in each of the boxes here and type in your name (you can use just your first name or a generic user name if you're concerned about privacy), your email address, and a password for your account.  Then click Sign Up.

  3. On the next screen, you will be able to see if anyone you know already uses Goodreads by having Goodreads check your contact lists in your email and/or social media accounts.

    Click on the button that corresponds with the type of email and/or social media account(s) you use to import your contacts; you will probably have to log into each service that you want to import your contacts from.  If you don't want to import any contacts right now, click Skip This Step.

  4. On the next screen, you'll be asked to tell Goodreads some of your favourite genres of books.  This will help Goodreads give you recommendations on books that you might want to read next.

    Click on a genre to mark it with a checkmark and select it.  Click on a genre that's already marked to unmark it.  You must mark at least one genre as a favourite to continue.  When you've marked all of the genres that you want to add to your favourites, click Continue at the bottom of the screen.

  5. The next screen allows you to further refine your recommendations from Goodreads by rating books that you've already read.  You'll get recommendations when you rate 20 or more books.

    You can see the number of books that you've rated so far in the top-left corner.  In the left column, you can click on a genre to see popular books from that genre, or click in the search box and type in a book title or author that you're looking for.  In the main screen, you can click on one of the stars underneath a book to give it a rating out of five, or click Want to Read in order to add it to your list of books to read (or re-read).  When you're done, click I'm Finished Rating.

  6. On the next screen, you will see recommendations for new books to read from Goodreads (if you have rated enough books to have any).  We'll go over these in more detail in our How to Use Goodreads tutorial.  For now, click Done Here?  See What's Next!

  7. You'll be taken to your main screen on Goodreads  You will have received a confirmation email from Goodreads.  Go to your email account that you used to sign up for Goodreads, and click on the email titled "Goodreads – Verify your Email Address".  Click the first blue link that you see.

  8. You will be taken back to your main interface on Goodreads, where you will receive a message that your email address has been verified.

Congratulations!  You're ready to use Goodreads!