Shelfari: A Website for Book-Lovers

By Dave Fox
Seattle, Washington

[This post originally appeared on my Wordsplash blog in 2007.]


wordsplash-home-tmbIf you love reading books — or even if you only sort of like reading books — is a nifty networking site where you can read book reviews, write your own book reviews, get suggestions from readers who share your literary interests, and show off your own personal library.

The site is kind of like a literary version of MySpace, only without the weirdos.

No, I take that back. Shelfari has weirdos, but they tend to be benign, non-pervy, book-geek weirdos. And they keep to their own corners of the website where they won’t disturb you.

Joining the site is free, and they never try to sell you any sort of premium membership. You create a profile about yourself, then start uploading your “bookshelf” by entering books you own. You can then view the libraries of other Shelfari members who own the same books as you, check out what they’re reading, and learn about other titles you might be interested in. You can rank the books on your shelf on a one-to-five star system and write mini reviews. The site also offers thousands of groups you can join on every topic imaginable. (In a two-minute random browse, I have found groups for everything from business management to Bengali authors, BDSM to Christian chick-lit.) You can also add “friends,” like on MySpace, if you want to compare notes and track what particular members are reading.

Oh… the weirdos? Yes. When I first joined Shelfari a few months back, I found it mildly addictive, and could not figure out why I was getting a thrill out of adding books to my virtual shelf so others could see what I am reading, have read, might read someday, or own but will never read. Once my shelf topped a hundred books, though, I got back to reality. As of right now, the top Shelfari user (translation: get a life!) has entered more than 12,000 books on her shelf. Somebody else (translation: hey, you get a life too!) has written more than 2,500 book reviews.

That having been said, if you suffer from Internet addiction, you’re better off staying away from Shelfari and… ummm… perhaps reading a good book instead. But if you’re looking for a place to find book suggestions from people who share your literary interests, Shelfari is a fun, low-key, well-designed, classy website for book lovers. You’ll find my profile and bookshelf under the screen name, “Dave Fox.”

Published on Sunday, December 16, 2007

Leave a Reply