An Overview of The StoryGraph

The StoryGraph is a website for readers that lets you keep track of books you’ve read and give recommendations for what you might want to read next. I use it mainly for the recommendations, but there are other features like graphs, reviews and content warnings, and the ability to follow other users and see what they’ve been reading lately.

The StoryGraph's search options

In my opinion, the search functionality is the best part. It includes the option to look for books based on what mood the book is, how it’s paced, what genre it is, and how long it is. You can include many genres you want to see and also give a list of genres to exclude. For example, I can set the genres to both fantasy and sci fi when I could go for either at the moment, and I can exclude children’s and middle grade to make sure I only get results of books that I’d be interested in.

Once you do the search, you get results like this, all laid out with the cover and some basic information about the book right there.

A sample book recommendation by The StoryGraph, showing the cover, the title, the author, the genre, the moods, the page count, and the original publication date

From there, you can click into the book’s page to see more, buy it through affiliate links, or add it to your “to read” list. On the book’s page, you see the same information, as well as a description (shortened but expandable), content warnings (if there are any), and how other readers described it in terms of certain predetermined questions. What moods does it have? What’s the pace? Is it plot or character driven? Are the characters loveable? Are the characters diverse? Are the flaws of the characters a main focus? You can also see the average star rating and how many people have reviewed it overall.

This is where the site gets data about what to recommend, so the level of detail and the accuracy can vary for books that aren’t very popular as opposed to ones that are, but I haven’t come across any books that I thought were categorized in a completely wrong way. Mostly it comes down to the nuances of point of view. One person’s fast paced might be another person’s medium. Some people might love characters others don’t care for. In my experience using it, I don’t expect perfection, but it is better than a lot of alternatives out there.

Another page, of course, includes the detailed reviews, but they are hidden under a second layer for those who don’t like to read anything resembling spoilers before they jump into the book. For other people who want it all, it’s just a click at the top of the section that lists the answers to the standard questions on the book page.

A sample of StoryGraph's review results, showing how readers have categorized a book into moods

The StoryGraph, as the name suggests, also includes graphs. You can look at books you’ve read over a certain period of time or expand it to include everything you’ve ever read. It will give you graphs showing: the moods, the pace, the number of pages, fiction vs nonfiction, genres, format, most read authors, number of books and pages read over time, and average star ratings. All of these can be a lot of fun to look at and interesting to reflect on.

Here’s my pie chart of books I’ve read so far this year and what moods they had most commonly. I’ve been mostly going for adventurous, followed by dark and emotional, with reflective and lighthearted close behind. That makes a lot of sense because after reading a few darker books, I like to read something lighter to cheer myself up. Moods like sad don’t come into play at all here, which I guess says that I haven’t been looking for any tragedies lately.

A pie chart showing books that Shannon's read in 2021 and what their moods were

The site also has the option to set book goals and page goals for the year. Once set, it will have a graph that shows how close you are to achieving that goal and whether you’re on track, ahead, or behind given how much time you have left.

In my experience, the StoryGraph is a nice site with a lot of features that readers will enjoy. Better yet, everything I mentioned is free. I have the free version myself, and I’ve been getting great use out of it so far. Feel free to check it out for yourself!

Author: Shannon Fallon

Shannon Fallon is an aspiring author currently seeking representation for her debut novel The Binding of Magic. She lives in Wisconsin with her cat Willowstripe, who loves to sleep on her lap while she writes... and pester her when not being given enough attention. She graduated from Cardinal Stritch University in 2014 with bachelor's degrees in writing and computer science. She currently works as a Senior Programmer Analyst for a property and casualty insurance company that creates much of the software used by its employees. When she's not wrangling unruly code, she enjoys reading a mix of modern and classic literature, exchanging feedback with other writers, and relaxing with a good video game.

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