When I first stumbled on Goodreads in November 2010, I thought I’d found the online book mecca. Bookish status updates, virtual TBR lists, reading challenges, literary quizzes, author chats! I signed up immediately and have since updated my currently reading status faithfully.
But recently I’ve started thinking that maybe Goodreads isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
For one thing, constantly updating the currently reading status makes one acutely aware of how long it’s taking to read something and how many books deep one is towards one’s reading goal. Sometimes this adds unnecessary stresses to a thing I do for fun. I noticed that I started choosing books based on what would aid me in my reading goal, a series of short books to pad the stats became a reading norm. I started to shy away from tackling mammoth books like War and Peace, Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo.
My re-reading levels started going down as well (something I have definitely remedied this year with The Great Harry Potter Re-read). Oh, I still make sure I re-read at least one Austen a year but while I used to think about re-reading old favourites the way one looks forward to getting into comfy clothes, now I think about what a pain in the butt it is to add books to my reading goal that Goodreads has decided I’ve already read. Apparently re-reads don’t count on Goodreads. You can choose a different version but I’m kind of OCD when it comes to these things and I like to choose the cover that matches the one that I’m actually reading.
But the biggest issue I think I’ve started to have with Goodreads are the reviews. Have you ever scrolled through some of the reviews on Goodreads? People can be nasty! I mean, I don’t love all the books I read either and sometimes, I post about that here but I try never to be a complete a-hole about it.
The other thing is that sometimes these reviews colour my selection process. I casually look up a book on Goodreads to add to my TBR list and glance at the reviews. Suddenly I’m rethinking if I want to read some of the books I thought I wanted to read, which is when I have to remind myself that I don’t actually know any of the people posting those reviews. Maybe those people think the classics are boring; perhaps they hate any books with magic; possibly they hate crime fiction. I find that I scroll through the reviews of a new book by a beloved author and start to take the reviews personally: How can you not think that The Casual Vacancy is fantastic?!
I’m probably still going to hang out on Goodreads because I like to see what other people in my life are reading but it’s definitely a different experience to what it was when I first started.