I’ve been itching to write a post on The StoryGraph for a while now. I jumped on the bandwagon back in the summer, when several thousand new members joined all at once and things sorta exploded. At the time, my pull was that The StoryGraph was a Black-owned startup and an alternative to Goodreads, but Nadia and her team continue to be amazing. So today, I’m sharing why The StoryGraph is my new primary book cataloging hub, and why I think you should switch over.
As if of right now, The StoryGraph is still in beta. It’s so polished, sometimes I forget the site is in beta. The full service plans to officially go live on January 1st, 2021. Nadia, Rob, and Abbie have been hard at work building features, giving weekly updates, and they even hosted a Q & A with Kalynn Bayron (author of Cinderella is Dead). Their Instagram and Twitter accounts are filled with upcoming information, so when I say this product is going out of beta in January, know that does not mean the updates will stop. This is not like Goodreads – this product is still blossoming and growing and not only does Nadia take user feedback into account, she actually solicits it.
So that’s Reason #1 why The StoryGraph is incredible. The creators actively seek the user’s feedback on features, and implement their findings.
There’s a lot to go over on this site, so I’m going to do my best to keep it concise. Which, as y’all know, is not my forte! The homepage, for starters, is a beautiful aesthetic sampling of books from different categories:
- Currently Reading
- Just For You
- From Your To-Read Pile
- New On The StoryGraph
- From Books You Own
Each of these snapshots shows three books in the categories, completely random. If you’re looking for an instant TBR Jar, this is one way to go about it without any work! It works for both your overall TBR, as well as your efforts to read what you own. I like how clean this front page is – there are no ads on The StoryGraph, and currently no plans to have any. The website is crisp and easily navigable.
I really like that the home page is tailored to me and reading. There is a little social following on The StoryGraph, but it’s not front and center because this is a book site, not a social media site. The Community page functions similar to Goodreads’ newsfeed, noting books read and finished and reviewed by the people you follow. Thanks to an update a few months ago, it’s now much easier to find your friends on The StoryGraph. There’s your feed, and a full site feed. I never look at the full site feed myself, but it’s good for those who want general community recommendations.
I would say the keystone feature of The StoryGraph is their “For You” list.
When you sign up for the site, there’s a questionnaire asking you what you like to read – from genres to a manually typed list of favorite tropes – and the stuff you never want to read. From that, there’s an algorithm that determines good book recommendations for you. What you see in the image above are my current answers, and in the image below are my recommendations.
As you can see, um, this top pick is not only already on my TBR, but I actually own a copy of The Girl From Everywhere. I’m really excited to read this book and I agree that it checks a BUNCH of my boxes. Based on this alone, I’m fairly confident this “Ordered for You” thing knows what’s it’s talking about. And, hey, if I look at a suggested book and decide it’s not up my alley, I can click the X in the upper right corner and it’s gone.
Additionally, if you opt for the premium plan (not needed to enjoy the site, but a good way to support it) this “Ordered for You” filter applies to all your searches, so that you’re most likely to get the books you will like. While paid placement is not a thing on this site, it’s still nifty to be able to upgrade to further customized search results.
When I’m on The StoryGraph, I spend most the time on my homepage hub. From here, we’ve got a few different modules:
- Account Settings
- What You Like To Read (Stats!)
- What You’re Currently Reading
- Books You’ve Read Recently
- Your Five-Star Reads
- Latest Additions to Your TBR
- Books You’ve Tagged
- Books You Own
- Reading Challenges
There are so many cool features here. Some of these feautres are pretty self explanatory so I’m only going to go into a couple of them. I would like to note that even though I only use it for my personal, annual reading challenge, the Reading Challenges module is very cool and I love that you can join and create TBRs for multiple reading challenges. This is a feature I haven’t dug into yet, but I’m looking forward to it in the future.
The first module I want to talk about is the “What You Like to Read” aka STATS module. I’m a huge stats nerd, so the way The StoryGraph calculates what I’m reading and what I like to read and all that jazz is endlessly interesting to me. I reached out recently to find out if any of these graphs will be embeddable one day, and it was confirmed that yes, they will be, but there’s not a current timeline for that since they’re working hard for initial rollout. Once that happens, you better believe that these stat charts are going to find a home in my monthly and annual wrap ups on the regular.
Here’s all the different stats you get on this page:
- Annual Reading Goal
- Moods (Pie Chart)
- Pace (Pie Chart)
- Page Number (Pie Chart)
- Fiction/Non-Fiction (Pie Chart)
- Genres (Pie Chart and Bar Graph)
- Number of Books and Pages (Line Graph)
- Star Ratings (Bar Graph)
- More to come! :O
Some things to note on the specific graphs for nerds like me… page length is pretty basic, that comes from the actual copies. It’s worth nothing that The StoryGraph doesn’t offer different editions at the moment, so there should only be one copy of each book. For myself, I actually prefer that, I simply want to say “I read this book” without worrying about the editions… particularly with classics where there are 2000 editions (if you like editions and keeping track of what you own, Bookhype may be a good fit for you). But when you move on to things like “mood”… how a book’s mood gets determined is based on how readers rate it in the review process, which I’ll talk about later.
Additionally – genres. Unlike Goodreads, these are not determined by the way users tag the books and these are solid, actual genres. That aspect of Goodreads drives me crazy and I’m happy to have the accuracy. Additional cool features here? #1. Each chunk is clickable so you can see what books it encompasses; and #2. This can be filtered by “All Time”, “Year”, and “Month” to give a more manageable chunk of data.
I’m crazy about the stats, I really am, and they far outshine the measly data I get from Goodreads.
The other aspect I wanted to briefly talk about is the custom tags feature. I like tagging my books by themes, subject, reading challenge, etc. It’s one of my primary uses of “shelves” on Goodreads and LibraryThing. You can use these tags to search and filter your own books, but you can also tag books without ever adding them to your shelves! Which is nifty. From the book front, these tags are very clean and you can start typing at any point in your tag and the appropriate search result will pop up.
I really like the way this looks at a book level, and if that were ALL the custom tags did, I would be happy. But The StoryGraph took custom tags to another level, making them functional not just for personal organization, but also list curation.
As I mentioned above, tags has its own module on your personal profile. When you click through, the customs tag page lists all your tags in alphabetical order, as well as highlighting three with recent additions. If you click on an individual tag, you can go to that collection and filter it down in a variety of ways (moods, ownership, length, etc.) You can also click the edit button at the top of the screen to add a custom title to the tags page, rename the tag itself, make it a public list (great if you are curating a reading list!!!), or delete the tag altogether.
All in all, they really leveled up the tag/shelf game here and I am living for it.
At this point, you must be thinking, “sheesh, is this post done? It’s already 1528 words!”. And I promise, I promise, I am almost done, I just want to show you the review process because it’s also very well done and personalized and cool. I swear y’all, this is me reigning in my enthusiasm for this fabulous product. I could talk about more, I really could. This is the highlights reel.
Reviews on The StoryGraph are yet another place where the users get to input their opinions and add statistical data to a book. All these fields are completely optional, but I try to fill things out whenever I can. I think these give a really good snapshot for people who are looking to quickly get the feel of a book, without having to read a bunch of reviews.
First, it asks about the book itself.
Then, the characters.
Then it’s the basic stuff, like star rating and the typed up review. There’s a reminder here about spoiler tags, but there’s also a section at the end of the review page to type in any spoilers. When spoilers are used, they appear hidden or in a toggle section of the review. Also exciting is that The StoryGraph allows for half-star and quarter-star ratings! … I’m not using them this time because I’m a generous reviewer and Lair of Dreams was perfect, but I promise, they’re there!
Finally, and this is super exciting to me, there is the content warning section. These content tags were collected via a community survey before the feature went live. Prior to this, I was always a little nervous about content warnings because I never knew what I needed to be looking for. I love the drop-down list of suggestions and I look through it every time I post a review and assess each line item. These trigger warnings are one of the ways I want to be better in my sensitivity, and I appreciate that they are easily available on The StoryGraph.
Once you post your review, you can see how your opinions play out on the book’s page. Things like content warnings are minimized for sensitivity reasons. When it comes to moods and pace, the highest items are actually listed as top tags for the book in your search results.
There is so much more here I want to talk to y’all about – from the series pages to the search filtering – but this is an extraordinarily long post. Also, they have an app, which I didn’t even touch on! At this point, all I can say is that you absolutely must go to The StoryGraph and sign up yourself and give it a go – this site is just getting started and it’s chock full of amazing features and run by community-driven creators. It’s a clean space, untainted by advertisers, and a great place to build your library.
I honestly cannot recommend The StoryGraph enough. I decided early on to sign up for the paid tier even though you really don’t need it to enjoy all these beautiful features. I love this site so much and I hope you all will come join me there.
Have you tried The StoryGraph yet? If so, leave me your profile link or username in the comments and I’ll follow you. If not, what’s holding you back? Let me know in the comments!