Monday, August 31, 2015

Let's Talk About Goodreads

Welcome to my guest post today, I’m Catriona from Words of a Bluebird (link to my blog at the bottom) and I’m going to be having a little rant about the problems of Goodreads!

As someone new to the bookblogosphere, last year I was swept up in all the exciting new things that come with it. The lovely people, the interesting reading, the new book recommendations, and Goodreads.

Now, Goodreads seemed great at the time. You can have separate bookshelves, a reading goal which you can track throughout the year, and you have access to thousands of reviews of books you’ve already read, to see what other people thought about them. What could be wrong, right!

Like many others, I quickly began getting aggravated with the site, and here’s why:

The Rating System 
Because I rate with percentages, the Goodreads 5 star rating system just does not cut it. It is probably the most irritating thing I have found. It’s such a basic fault, I can’t believe they haven’t fixed this yet! As a site devoted to primarily reviewing books, why is it they only cater for people who can rate a book on this one, tiny scale?

I’m not trying to offend anyone here rating on the 5 point system is totally fine! But because I rate books on a 100 point system… Goodreads cannot be my primary source of reviewing (which is one of the reasons I set up a blog).

To give you an example, if you read 100 books a year, over 10 years you would have read 1000 books. On the Goodreads 5 star rating, that means you would have (on average) 200 books in each category, which makes it impossible to sort out the very best 10 or so books. Even if they had half stars, it would dramatically improve it!

Keeping Up/Awkwardness 
This could be my personal shortcomings with Goodreads, but I find it very difficult to keep up the shelves; it is very awkward to keep changing books around to different shelves from TBR to reading, to a specfic category.

Let me give you this scenario. You are having a little binge on booktube and the bookblogosphere, and you keep seeing all these incredible books that you want to read. So you grab a notebook and write down a little list as you see them. Now, you could either go onto Goodreads and find each of those 20 books and fiddle them onto your TBR shelf (provided you can get the damn search bar to find them), and then go to the store with your phone. Or, you could just bring the piece of paper, and cross the books off when you get them!

Goodreads offers no extra perks that you can’t get from somewhere else. Blogs for the reviewing and the connecting. Book journals for the TBR books. Planners (or the book journal) to keep track of which books you’ve read that year.

I thought I would put this in here, although as a reader/blogger and not an author, I haven’t had any personal experiences with this before, except from observances. However, I am aware that there are people who just downvote to be spiteful I’ve even heard of authors setting up fake accounts and giving awful ‘reviews’ to other authors, and people entering multiple fake accounts to scam a giveaway. There are some truly horrific stories out there!

I could also go on to criticize how the reading challenge makes reading less pleasurable and more stressful, but I have not yet found this. I’m more pressured by the ‘I promised this author I’d have the review put up tomorrow, and I still have 100 pages to read’ scenario. If you don’t like the reading challenge, don’t have one next year, or just quit now. You don’t have to read a certain amount of books in a year, and you certainly shouldn’t feel pressured to do so!

For all its faults, Goodreads does have some redeeming features. The forums are very good for answering and asking questions, and it’s a great way for unpublished writers to meet with published writers, readers and publishers.

Futhermore, a lot of the groups are sweet, and great fun to join, where you can really have discussions with people who read the same books as you.

Unsurprisingly, there are many many rants about this subject, from annoyed readers to hurt authors, and here are three which I have picked out as some of the most interesting...

That’s the end of this post, I hope you appreciated where I was coming from, even if you don’t agree with the points I made.

You can visit me over at my blog, and I look forward to reading your comments!


  1. I love me some goodreads, it's the best system that I've found for me so far. Though I basically only use it to track my own reading, I don't do groups or anything. The troll stuff is a little scary. Why are people so ridiculous?

    1. Yep. That's what I use it for too, only to track reading, not the social aspect either.

      I was going to get rid of it, but for now, my other alternative, listography, doesn't have an Android app. Until they do, I'll stick with Goodreads despite the lack of half star ratings, which I would like, but it's not a dealbreaker for me. I also like highlighting passages on the Kindle with Goodreads.

  2. Yea, goodreads is a definitely a kind of necessary evil for me. The not having half stars or a good way to do rereads really bothers me. But I do like the shelving system, and being able to have all my books and TBR in one place. So meh, until something better comes along, I'm stuck.

  3. I agree that goodreads should allow half stars in their rating system.

  4. Thank you for your post Catriona!. I completely agree with the 5 star problem: even though I do have a similar system on my blog, my 4 mushrooms are probably equivalent to a 3 star on GR and after a while it gets confusing. It would be great if they finally add half stars, that would help a bit.

  5. If they AT LEAST had half stars, that would be an improvement!

  6. I'm actually ok with the 5 star rating. Wouldn't mind a 10 start one though, would give me more room for all those grey areas. What actually bugs me the most is their search function. If you get one little letter wrong, one comma, one dash then results always come up empty. Very frustrating.

    Nice to haves: more statistics, ability to compare books (feature I luuurve) with more than one person at the same time (e.g. which of all my friends do I have more in common with?).

  7. Very interesting post! I do agree with hating the 5 star system, and I feel it doesn't even match the amazon one despite them both being simple 5 stars. I do enjoy how quickly I can find specific books to read with just a general idea based on other people's shelves and lists (oh, and the forums!). But then that's also a detriment, because you end up with a gigantic TBR list that you can't easily separate by "Definitely buy next time at bookstore" vs "Eventually find this one".


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