Why is this book on my TBR? (a Goodreads hack)

February 8, 2022 How To 16

If you’re like me, with a TBR list a mile long, you probably go through and prune it occasionally. (Or at least try to.) And when you do, you inevitably run across books you have no memory of… as in, you literally cannot remember why the book is on your TBR list in the first place.

Well, I have come up with a solution.

When you write a review of a book on Goodreads, there is a place to put a private note—something only you will see. You can use this note for anything you want. I use it when someone has given me a book, to note who gave it to me. But I also use the private note field when I want to remember whatever prompted me to put the book on my TBR list, whether that’s a personal recommendation from a friend, or a review by another reader or blogger, or just because the blurb sounded cool.

I don’t do this for every book; for example, if it’s by an auto-buy or auto-read author, I’m going to remember why it’s on my TBR without any help. But if I think I’m going to have a hard time remembering why I put this particular book on my TBR, I leave myself a private note.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Go to the book’s Goodreads page.

2. Click “Want to Read” (if you haven’t already.)

3. Add the book to any other shelves you want. You may have shelves for genre, or specific challenges, or specific tropes… we all organize our Goodreads books differently.

4. Refresh the page. Now, if you scroll down the page, below the other editions of the book, you should see “My Activity.”

5. Click “Edit.” Goodreads will open a review page.

Screenshot of a section of a Goodreads book page, showing where to click "EDIT" to write or revise your review.

5. Scroll down the review page. The last text box is for Private notes.

6. Type your note into the text box—whatever you want to remember.

[Edit: Anne @ Books of My Heart reminds me that if all you want to do is note who recommended the book, you can actually do that in the field right above the “Private notes” field. And if they are on Goodreads, you can automatically link to them. However, the “Recommended by” field is not private.]

If you want to link your note to the review that made you want to read the book (or add any other link), you can do it with a little bit of HTML. Here’s how:

1. Copy and paste the following text into the text box where you want the link to go:


2. Next, copy the URL of the review or page you want to link to, and paste it where you see the words PASTE LINK HERE. Do not delete the quotation marks, and don’t add a space before or after the URL.

3. Then, type whatever text you want for the actual link where it says TYPE TEXT HERE. You don’t have to use caps. Here’s an example of the what your whole note might look like with the HTML.

Added to my TBR based on <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4487054263?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1″>this review by Chelsea</a> on Goodreads.

4. Click the “Post” button at the bottom, and voila! Your private note has been added, along with a clickable link (if you added a link.) You’ll be able to see it in the “My Activity” section of the book’s Goodreads page.

I hope you found this hack helpful! I think it’s going to come in handy next time I try to purge my TBR list. Let me know if you decide to do this, too—or if you have another clever use for the “Private notes” feature.

16 Responses to “Why is this book on my TBR? (a Goodreads hack)”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I’m finding it really helpful; I just wish I had figured out earlier that I could use the field for this purpose. I also use it to keep track of who gave me a book, so I can remember to thank them when I finish it.

        • Lark_Bookwyrm

          There are indeed! You can add your thoughts about the book that you didn’t put in the review because they involve spoilers. Or the name of anyone you want to give the book to when you’re done with it, or which friend or library you borrowed it from so you remember to give it back, or which friend you loaned it to so you get it back! Or use it for cataloging books you own — which bookcase and shelf is it on?

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I’ve known about the “private note” field for years, but it was only in the last year or two that I realized I could use it to keep track of why I added a book to my TBR. I wish I had figured that out earlier—I have a lot of older books on my TBR that I don’t remember why I put them on the list!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      If you keep a paper list or spreadsheet for your TBR, you could make notes on it. But I do find Goodreads really useful for my TBR. You can also re-order your TBR by adjusting the number — if you want the 127th book to go to the top, just change its number to 1, and Goodreads reorders it for you. I use that all the time, to bump a library book or an ARC to the right place in the list.