The StoryGraph: choosing your next favourite book

The StoryGraph: choosing your next favourite book

Looking for your next book to read? Look no further, because The StoryGraph has your back. The independent service helps you to choose based on your mood, as well as your favourite topics and themes. I spoke to CEO and Founder, Nadia Odunayo to find out more.

Casual readers, ‘Bookstagrammers’, and bookworms alike have been raving about its spot-on recommendations and unique reading stats feature. You may have already heard me harp on about Storygraph in other articles. I’ve used it regularly now for over a year, and I’m a firm convert. And with over 500,000 users and tens of thousands of followers on social media, I’m not alone. Here’s why.

It isn’t Amazon owned.

Did you know Amazon bought Goodreads back in 2013? As someone who’s been making a conscious effort to give less money to the multinational conglomerate, I’m glad to have found a (better!) alternative. Founder and CEO of The StoryGraph Nadia Odunayo switched career trajectory from investment banking by learning to code. She tells The Live Life about her lifetime love of books and how she’s channelling this into The StoryGraph “the fact that I get to work on one of my main hobbies is just incredibly exciting to me. I just love being part of this world.”

CEO and Founder Nadia Odunayo, from her website

Her passion for reading and entrepreneurship sparked an idea for an app to help people track their reading and choose their next book. Speaking to fellow software entrepreneur Colleen Schnettler on the podcast Software Social, Odunayo emphasises producing the most added value for users “I want to build a project that’s known as a really excellent tool for tracking your reading and choosing your next book“.

Being independent as opposed to owned by Amazon takes me to perhaps the biggest advantage of StoryGraph…

Your book recommendations aren’t only better, they are also free from influence by wealthy publishers

Odunayo frequently talks about the many months of customer research she conducted to build the best product, which she continues even now. One of the main learning points was that readers don’t always trust the recommendations given to them on other sites.

Until recently I had no idea that publishing companies can pay to ensure their books are in more prominent places on recommendation sites such as Goodreads. The StoryGraph does not use advertisements and takes no funding from publishers. No ads also means a cleaner, clearer and quieter layout.

The StoryGraph homepage
A screenshot of (my) StoryGraph homepage: crisp, clear, ad-free.

As The StoryGraph is a start-up looking to make a profit, are users going to start seeing ads in future? “We want it to stay this way forever” Odunayo tells The Live Life. Excellent.

The recommendations help you to actually read your books

Before discovering The StoryGraph, I suffered from a serious case of tsundoku, – buying books and letting them pile up. StoryGraph uses algorithms and machine learning from your reading patterns (and a short questionnaire you can complete on signing-up) to recommend your next book. For me, these recommendations are always scarily accurate and I’ve loved everything they’ve suggested. You can also search for books based on your mood, including from books in your To Read pile, and books you own. The personalised ‘Up Next’ suggestion feature from your To-Read pile on the Plus plan is also really helpful.

You can import your Goodreads data.

Yes, you read that correctly. The StoryGraph has a feature that allows this. How do I import my GoodReads data? When you sign up you are given the option to do this, or you can do it at any time by going to My Profile > Manage Profile > Import Goodreads and following the simple process. The StoryGraph website says it can take up to 24 hours for your data to appear once you hit ‘Import’, but for me, it took a matter of minutes.

The books I’ve read this year by mood. As you can tell I like a lighthearted read…

Users love the reading stats

For those that enjoy tracking their reading list, the Reading Stats feature is for you. It breaks down what you’ve read in terms of mood, pace, fiction/non-fiction, length, genre, and more, There’s even a feature showing the number of pages you’ve read. Moreover, you can set Reading Goals and StoryGraph will help you to achieve them. For example, it might suggest a shorter book if you’re falling behind.

Books and pages I’ve read so far this year. Can you guess when lockdown was?

In addition, some of the features included when reviewing books you’ve read are unique to The StoryGraph. You can specify how central character development is, how diverse the characters are, and add any trigger warnings. Best of all for me: it allows half and quarter star ratings!

How much does the Storygraph cost?

It’s free! Hurrah! However, they have recently introduced a paid tier ‘StoryGraph Plus’ which has some extra features that keener booklovers may value. Plus membership is £3.49 ($4.99) per month, with a reduced fee for selecting the annual billing option. Odunayo explains this is an essential part of Storygraph’s growth “it helps us run a long term sustainable profitable company whilst remaining ad-free and trustable.

Are there any cons?

I’ve seen some reviewers and articles exploring The StoryGraph vs Goodreads mention the community aspect. The StoryGraph does have a feature allowing you to follow other users, as well as create and join reading challenges. However, this is less active than the more well-established Goodreads. It is growing fast, and Odunayo revealed that the community aspect is a current development priority “we want to make it easier for people to interact with their friends […] for example groups, book clubs, and buddy reads”. These features can be expected by the end of this year.

What other features can we look forward to?

They are committed to increasing accessibility for their users. Also in the pipeline is being able to gift Plus membership to your family and friends. That’s my Christmas shopping sorted!

You can sign up to The StoryGraph on their website or download the mobile app here. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram for updates on new features and calls for customer input. Once you’ve signed up, you can follow me here. Happy reading!



Stef is a medical doctor and public health specialist, with a passion for the prevention of illness. When she isn't working at her day job or trying to keep her plants alive, she often has her nose in a book or goes for a walk with an audiobook for company.

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