How to Read a Book on Goodreads

By Corbin HartwickUpdated on March 14, 2022

Can you read books on Goodreads?

As a matter of fact, you can! Goodreads has a small collection of electronic books (“e-books”) that you can read. Some of them you can read in their entirety on the website, while others will only have short sections available for reading, and still others will require you to follow Goodreads to a place where you must purchase the full book if you want to read more than just an excerpt. Some books you can even download straight to your computer (or at least small excerpts of them)!

We will cover the last scenario in our How to Download Books from Goodreads tutorial. For now, we’ll deal with books that you can read right on Goodreads itself.

How do you read books on Goodreads?

1. Go to in your web browser and log in.

2. Click the small triangle beside Explore in the menu across the top, and click Ebooks.

3. Once you’re in the “Ebooks” section, you can click the “Sort By” menu to sort available e-books by how often they’re downloaded or how generally popular they are, which ones you can read for free and which ones you have to buy, the price of purchasable e-books, or which ones have been recently added. (HINT: try the Readable option to find ones that you can read for free.)

You can also click in the search bar on the right-hand side (labelled as “Search by Title or Author”) and type in an e-book that you’re looking for based on its name or its author’s name. Then click Find eBooks.

When you find a book that you want to read, click Read Book to start reading it.

4. This will open a new window where you can read the e-book. Each chapter or section of the book displays on the same page, so just scroll down to read more of that section or chapter. We’ve highlighted the controls with red numbers; the corresponding captions below the screenshot will tell you what they do.

  1. Contents – Click here to see a list of sections in this e-book. Click on a section to jump to it.
  2. Back to Book – Click here to go to the information page about this book.
  3. Previous Chapter – Click here to go to the previous chapter or section of this book.
  4. Next Chapter – Click here to go to the next chapter or section of this book.
  5. Zoom Controls – Click the “+” button here to zoom in and make the text bigger, or click the “” button to zoom out and make the text smaller.
  6. Quick Info – Clicking this button will bring up a window showing you a quick summary of this book, as well as how much progress you’ve made in terms of reading it.
  7. Embed – Clicking this button will give you special codes that you can use to share a link to this e-book on your website or social media channels, or display the current part of the book on your website or online journal (“blog”).
  8. Save Place – Click here to have Goodreads remember where you stopped in this book, so when you start reading this book again, you can pick up from where you left off.

How to purchase e-books on Goodreads

There are some e-books on Goodreads that you will need to purchase in order to read them. You will recognize them by the fact that their Read eBook buttons have money amounts beside them. Don’t worry; clicking one of these buttons won’t make you immediately buy the book. It will just take you to a preview of that book.

You can read a short excerpt from the book, and once you are done, you can click Buy eBook if you want to purchase it and read the rest.

You will be taken to a screen where you can input your billing information.

Click in the appropriate boxes or drop-down menus and enter:

  • your name (as it appears on your credit card)
  • your credit card number
  • your credit card’s expiry date
  • your credit card’s security code (move your mouse over the “?”for help finding this)
  • your street address (and unit address, if applicable)
  • your city of residence
  • your state/province/territory of residence
  • your area’s mailing code
  • your country of residence

Once you have all of this filled out, click Purchase. Your credit card will be immediately charged.

Now, not only can you read this e-book on Goodreads, but you can also download an “ePub” version of the file and read it on your computer with something like Adobe Digital Editions (click this link and follow the instructions to download this electronic reading program), or on your mobile device with a similar program!

There you go! Now you know how to read books on Goodreads!