Where to Make and Share Book Lists Online

Claire Handscombe

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Five years ago, I fell in love with an app. I knew giving it my heart was probably dangerous, that it was likely to change in ways that I didn’t love since I already thought it was perfect. Nevertheless, I jumped into The List App and helped to make it a bookish place, sharing lists of my favourite reading-related podcasts and facilitating group lists where we could share what we were reading each week.

A couple of years later, in September 2017, we got the email many of us had been sensing was inevitable. The List App, having undergone multiple reincarnations and been rechristened Li.st, was closing just three days later. “Is it possible to be astonished and yet at the same time not surprised?” those of us with a propensity to quote The West Wing might have said. We’d seen it coming, but it was still unbearably sad.

It’s hard to explain what this app meant to many of us — it was a community more than an app, a place more supportive than anything I’d come to expect online. Several of us have found each other online elsewhere — Facebook, Twitter, even Slack — but BJ Novak and his team trained us to think in lists, and we missed making them together and sharing them with each other.

Three years later, we still gather in a Facebook group, still mourn the loss of The List App, and we’ve Zoomed a few times during these weird times when people have been reaching out to their friends and communities for some semblance of much-needed connection

And although it’s not the same, there are other places online to make and share bookish lists — lists like “5 books that made me laugh” or “novels I recommend to everyone” or “my favourite Spain-set books”. I’m @bookishclaire on many of these apps, so find me if you’d like to play along.

Lili

Lili is similar to The List App, with many of the features we loved there. It’s easy to make lists on all topics and add a picture and a comment for each item on them. The lists are pretty and easily shareable on social media, and you can go back and add to them later, so they’re good for book projects in progress — for example, to record all the books you read as part of a challenge or in any given year.

Instagram

Now that the app allows for more than one photo in its carousel-type posts it’s possible to share several book covers, as a visual representation of “best books I’ve read this month”, for example. You can also make folders for your Instagram stories, and they’ll stay at the top of your profile and not disappear into the ether after 24 hours. So, you could have one for “books I recommend”, for example.

Twitter

Twitter threads can be a useful place to make lists. Plus, each time you tweet you’ll bring attention to the entire thread.

Goodreads

Lists are one of the most fun things on Goodreads. They’re collaborative, though, so once your list of Best Books With Blue Covers or Favourite James Patterson Novels is out there, you’ll have little control over it. But that means they’re also a good way to discover new books, as well as see what’s popular, since people can vote on each list item.

Bookshop.org

Bookshop is an online bookstore which shares its profits with indies and is therefore a great place to be buying your reading material always, but especially right now, when local businesses really need your support. It’s also possible to be an affiliate, as I am, and if you are, you get to make lists — they make it really easy, and there’s always the (tiny) chance you can earn a few dollars if someone clicks and buys something from your list.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

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Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.

Washington, DC
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