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Litsy: If Instagram and Goodreads Had a Perfect Baby

Brenna Clarke Gray

Staff Writer

Part muppet and part college faculty member, Brenna Clarke Gray holds a PhD in Canadian Literature while simultaneously holding two cats named Chaucer and Swift. It's a juggling act. Raised in small-town Ontario, Brenna has since been transported by school to the Atlantic provinces and by work to the Vancouver area, where she now lives with her stylish cyclist/webgeek husband and the aforementioned cats. When not posing by day as a forserious academic, she can be found painting her nails and watching Degrassi (through the critical lens of awesomeness). She posts about graphic narratives at Graphixia, and occasionally she remembers to update her own blog, Not That Kind of Doctor. Blog: Not That Kind of Doctor Twitter: @brennacgray

Have you been hearing the buzz about Litsy? It’s a social media app for readers (iOS only for the moment, I’m afraid, please don’t yell at me, I didn’t develop the app) that is kind of like if Instagram and Goodreads had a beautiful, perfect baby. You can read a little about it on their website. I’m kind of obsessed.

What I like about Litsy, perhaps paradoxically, are its strict limitations. You can basically do only three things to add content to your page: quote from a book you’re reading, blurb a book you’re reading, and review a book you’re reading. Litsy forces you to tag a book title for every post, so this keeps the community focused on reading in a really satisfying way. Each one of these posts can be a picture, or text, or both. When viewing content in your feed, you have only three options: add a book to one of your stacks (read, to read, or currently reading), make a comment, or like a quote/blurb/review from another reader. As you add content and engage with other readers, you accumulate a score.

Here’s what the profile page looks like:


Wherein the author subtly indicates that her username is brenna and you should connect with her on Litsy.

The little glasses indicate what I’m reading right now, the lightning bolt shows me comments and likes and such, and Litfluence is my score within the community. (I felt good about breaking 500 until I saw that the inimitable Liberty Hardy broke 10,000 this week, because of course she did.) If you’re comfortable on Instagram, you’ll take to Litsy like a duck to water — it’s the same basic principle. Pictures, comments, likes, and tagging.

For me, this app has been a bit of a revelation. I love bookish Instagram and Twitter, but there’s something great about a dedicated space for bookish folks. And while I know lots of people love Goodreads, I pretty publicly broke up with that site a while ago for what I think are some really great reasons (namely: harassment), and I’ve seen a lot go wrong with the way authors approach the platform. I didn’t realize how much I needed a dedicated app for my reading until Listy came along and reminded me.

There are a bunch of things I love about Litsy that sets it apart and makes it, in my opinion, a safer space than Goodreads has become:

  • No private messaging. No connection to my other social networks. Just me and my books. Comment publicly or don’t, but there’s no option to secretly message someone. I got a lot of shady messages on Goodreads, and I never found the reporting function satisfactory. I’d rather not deal with it at all.
  • No privileged author space. There’s nothing stopping authors from joining the community and posting their books, but it’s set up to be reader-focused first. I would probably stop following someone who only ever posted about their own work, and then I’d never have to see their posts if I didn’t seek them out.
  • Limited rating options for review. No stars or scales. Just likeso-sopan, and bail. Do you know how long I used to agonize over stars on Goodreads? Now great books get a like, meh books get a so-so. It’s easy, intuitive, and takes about five seconds to do.
  • Litfluence. I love gamification. It works for me every time. I have apps that reward me for my focused no-phone time by growing trees, that reward me for drinking water by growing plants, that reward me for taking steps by giving badges. This stuff works for me. Seeing my Litfluence score tick up — slowly as it has been happening these days — gives me enormous pleasure. And it reminds me to pick up a book instead of scrolling through Twitter aimlessly.

    If you’ve taken the plunge with Litsy, share your username in the comments and give us your review. (And add me so we can look at each others books! I’m brenna. Because I got in early enough to get my first name. Win!)