If you’re one of the millions of people who uses Goodreads to track your reading habits you’ve surely noticed one thing: there’s no default way to mark a book that you’ve stopped reading partway through and have it removed from your reading list. With a simple little trick, however, you can create a final resting place for those books you don’t intend to finish.

Why create an “abandoned” shelf in the first place? While some people are content to just delete a book from their Goodreads account they didn’t finish, many avid readers like to track all the books they’ve read, including those they start but decide not to finish for whatever reason.

Let’s take a peek into my Goodreads account to highlight how easy it is to fix the situation and punt books you have no intention of finishing off to a virtual shelf to gather dust.

Here you can see the three books on my “Currently Reading” shelf—Behind the Bell, an absurdly bad book, by Dustin Diamond; Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading, and really fantastic memoir by NPR book critic and professor Maureen Corrigan framed in the context of all the books she’s read over her life; and Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham, a tasty (if you’ll pardon the pun) book about the history of fire, cooking, and its impact on human evolution.

I’ll happily recommend the last two books to any reader who finds the topics interesting, but Behind the Bell is as awful and empty as you’d imagine it to be. Rather than outright delete the book, however, I want to immortalize my misguided attempt at reading it and retire it off my “Currently Reading” list.

If I select the book to access the detailed view, however, there is no good default option for what I want to accomplish. If you look under in the dropdown menu beneath the book cover, where you can switch the status of the book in your collection, you’ll only find “Currently Reading”, “Read”, and “Want to Read”.

Let me assure you, none of those tags are satisfactory when dealing with a literary gem like Behind the Bell. Our solution is to create a special bookshelf just for the purpose of storing abandoned books but I’m going to skip using the “Add shelf” function seen in the screenshot. Yes you can create shelves from the drop down menu, but we need to tweak the shelf once we create it, so we might as well head right over to the bookshelf settings right from the get go.

To do so, click on “My Books” in the upper navigation bar and then select “Edit” next to “Bookshelves” in the sidebar (or, if you’re logged in already, you can just click this link to jump right to the bookshelf editor).

Name your new shelf and click “Add”—we’re sticking with “Abandoned” as a catch-all shelf for any book we started reading but did not complete. You can easily make two shelves if you wish: one for books you have no intention of completing and one for books you’re simply putting aside for a while.

Once the new shelf is on your list, there’s a final (and very important tweak). We want any book that we abandon reading to automatically be removed from the “Currently Reading” shelf without any additional fussing on our behalf. To make that happen, you need to check the “exclusive” box for your new shelf, as seen below. As the name implies, any bookshelf that is flagged as “exclusive” ensures that any book shelved there is shelved nowhere else. Click “I’m Done” after you make the change.

Now that we’ve done the legwork we can push a book off the “Currently Reading” list with ease by simply looking at our list of current books again and selecting one. Within the detailed book view, we can use the dropdown menu beneath the book cover to select “abandoned”.

The book status will update and the book will, thanks to our previously set “exclusive” toggle, be pulled from the “Currently Reading” shelf and dumped onto the “Abandoned” shelf, archived for posterity.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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