Goodreads Before Goodreads

I don’t mean to make a stink here, but Goodreads really owes me quite a bit of money. You see, I had the prototype for their entire platform back in 1999, long before Otis and Elizabeth Chandler launched their website. Yep. It was called My Book Journal.


My Book Journal is an offline system for tracking reading progress and maintaining literary lists. It comes in hardback (can you say the same, Goodreads? I don’t think so) and fits neatly on a shelf or in a medium-sized purse. It’s been in operation for fifteen years now and has never once crashed.

My Book Journal’s features include:

  • Organized lists of the books I read each year
  • Titles marked as “to read” in the future
  • A page for collecting favorite quotes
  • Convenient bookmarks
  • “Links” to lists and articles about authors
  • Very personalized privacy settings
  • Easily portable
  • Classy cover

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?


I’m not going to make a big deal over this dispute. I’ve decided to be the bigger person and take the high road, because I do admire that little Goodreads website and I have to admit that their rating system is easier to use than mine and, what’s more, they have pictures (which is cool and also kind of cheating). But I just wanted it to be known: Goodreads started here.

Here are some of the quotes that I’ve “favorited” over the years, i.e. written into My Book Journal with my own hand, rather than clicking a simple button. Yes, this system takes more time, requires a little elbow grease, but it’s that very dedication to record-keeping which makes My Book Journal so special. If you’re not willing painfully print a passage on the page with your tendonitis-afflicted fingers (while walking uphill in the snow, etc) then perhaps you don’t really “like” that quotation so much after all, now do you? Kids today have it so easy…


“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” – Douglas Adams, from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“The fire balloon still drifts and burns in the night sky of an as yet unburied summer. Why and how? Because I say it is so.” – Ray Bradbury, from “Just This Side of Byzantium”, the introduction to Dandelion Wine

“The warnings grew worse, depending on the danger at hand. Sex education, for example, consisted of the following advice: ‘Don’t ever let boy kiss you. You do, you can’t stop. Then you have baby. You put baby in garbage can. Police find you, put you in jail, then you life over, better just kill youself.’” – Amy Tan, from “The Cliffsnotes Version of My Life” in The Opposite of Fate

“The physical realities of the dingy bus slid away from me. I suddenly stood upon a hill in the center of an unknown country, hearing the sky fill with a new spelling of my name.” – Audre Lorde, from Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

“Mr. Weasley was looking around. He loved everything to do with Muggles. Harry could see him itching to go and examine the television and the video recorder. ‘They run off eckeltricity, do they?’ he said knowledgeably. ‘Ah yes, I can see the plugs. I collect plugs,’ he added to Uncle Vernon. ‘And batteries. Got a very large collection of batteries. My wife thinks I’m mad, but there you are.’” -J.K. Rowling, from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“If you take a book with you on a journey… an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open the book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it.” – Cornelia Funke, from Inkheart

“Although a Centaur Liaison Office exists in the Beast Division of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, no centaur has ever used it. Indeed, ‘being sent to the Centaur Office’ has become an in-joke at the Department and means that the person in question is shortly to be fired.” – Newt Scamander (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling), from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy skips lightly over this tangle of academic abstraction, pausing only to note that the term ‘Future Perfect’ has been abandoned since it was discovered not to be.” – Douglas Adams, from Life, the Universe, and Everything (I opted for a very condensed version of Adams’ phenomenal passage on the problem with time travel. To read the whole wonderful thing on the “real” Goodreads, click here.)

“Bombardment, barrage, curtain fire, mines, gas, tanks, machine guns, hand grenades—words, words, but they hold the horror of the world.” – Erich Maria Remarque, from  All Quiet on the Western Front

“He made three separate formations that led to the same tower of dominoes in the middle. Together, they would watch everything that was so carefully planned collapse, and they would all smile at the beauty of destruction.” – Markus Zusak, from The Book Thief

“‘I do not want it to rain.’ ‘Then you should not have washed the turtle.’” -Joan Abelove, from Go and Come Back

“Nothing could stop this huntress of the diminutive plains. It was time to level the playing field between me and the woman who called my differential equations ‘nonsensical’ in front of fifteen other teenagers. Eventually a message would pop up in the middle of the screen, framed in a neat box: MRS. ROSS HAS DIED OF DYSENTERY. This filled me with glee.” – Sloan Crosley, from “Bring-Your-Machete-to-Work Day” in I Was Told There’d Be Cake

“As long as he and I were together I had in some ways never really left where I started because we carried that place between us like a familiar blanket.” – Michael Dorris, from Sees Behind Trees

“The gong was long gone, but the legend lingered.” – Lemony Snicket, from “Who Could That Be at This Hour?”

“Prestigious. Often an adjective of last resort. It’s in the dictionary, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it.” – William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, from The Elements of Style

“‘There is no story that is not true,’ said Uchendu. ‘The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others.’” – Chinua Achebe, from Things Fall Apart

(If you want to see my profile on the “real” Goodreads, click here. If you want to see what’s happening in My Book Journal, email me your request, including a specific page number and/or year, and I will get back to you within 48 hours.)

Published by Carie Juettner

Carie Juettner is a former middle school teacher and the author of The Ghostly Tales of New England, The Ghostly Tales of Austin, and The Ghostly Tales of Burlington in the Spooky America series by Arcadia Publishing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as The Twin Bill, Nature Futures, and Daily Science Fiction. Carie lives in Richardson, Texas, with her husband and pets. She was born on Halloween, and her favorite color is purple.

2 thoughts on “Goodreads Before Goodreads

  1. Okay, first let me say, while I wholeheartedly AGREE with you that Goodreads totally owes you royalties for the origination of their idea in your Book Journal, I enjoyed the subtle humor of this post. Your quotes, mostly from stuff I, too, have read, and some stuff that I haven’t are fantastic. Thank you for sharing them.

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