Wednesday, April 15, 2015

In Defense of Goodreads

Is it just me, or are things getting a little testy in the bookternet lately?

There are a lot of issues that people are discussing--hotly--everywhere, and I am pretty much of the mind to just let others discuss them to death.  I'm okay with that.  But there has been on site that has been under what I consider an unfair attack and that site would be Goodreads.

I've tried other similar sites--namely Library Thing and Riffle--and there is nothing wrong with those site (although Riffle really needs to let you leave longer reviews), but Goodreads works for me.  It may not work for someone else--and that is fine--but it is exactly what I need.  Admittedly, I don't use all the features of Goodreads.  I only use the groups on a very limited basis (my postal book clubs both operate through Goodreads) and I'm not into the discussions.  I discuss books so much in other places that I really don't feel a need to go into discussions in Goodreads.  I also haven't quite figured out listopia.

On the other hand, I do cross post my reviews there, I track the books that I've read and what is on my TBR list.  I do their challenge every year, which I find an effective way to keep myself on track.  I also find that the reviews of books and recommendations are far more accurate to my tastes than the reviews of the same books on Amazon or another such site.

From what I can tell, the Goodreads hate comes from 2 sources.  On one hand, there are the writers who don't like that people leave them negative reviews.  Yes, there are some Goodreads user who are a bit, um, abrasive in their reviews.  There are also people on this planet who are a bit, um, abrasive in their views.  Get used to it.

Here's the thing...once you write something and put it out into the world, it belongs to the world and not everyone is going to like it.  If you can't deal with that, then you should not be publishing.  It is that simple.  And, if we need to point fingers, I'm much more willing to place blame on writers who go after their readers (Kathleen Hale, Anne Rice, and I'm sure many others.  There is, after all, an entire site devoted to this.  You can look it up, I'm not going to dignify it on this blog), than someone who peppers their review with profanity and rude gifs.  And, yes, there are those reviewers--I rarely run into them and, on the rare occasion that I do, I leave them alone and they leave me alone and everything is just fine.

The second source is from people who think that Goodreads is just beneath them.  I understand it is not a site for everyone, but that doesn't mean that there is some sort of defect in the people who do use it.  This past week, a rather amusing news story came out that Salman Rushdie was rating books on Goodreads and giving some ratings that some might question (I don't...who am I to question what someone else thinks of To Kill a Mockingbird?).  Just today, on a book podcast, they spoke about this story and one of the hosts said, "What is he doing on Goodreads anyway?"


I mean, why shouldn't Salman Rushdie be on Goodreads.  It apparently meets some need or interest he has and that's great.  Is this some sort of chink in his armor that he's on Goodreads?  Maybe he just wants to keep track of his books?  Maybe he just wants some recommendations from people NOT trying to push their books on him.  Why is the fact that he, or anyone, has a Goodreads account some sort of commentary on his character.

Goodreads is, plain and simple, a social networking site for booklovers.  Everyone is different and it may not appeal to everyone, and that is just fine.  I, however, find it a truly valuable tool when tracking my reading and a great way to stay on top of what my friends are reading and to find new books to read.

I'm not writing this to convince everyone to start a Goodreads account*.  However, I'm getting rather tired of the broken record I've been hearing about how Goodreads is evil.  Perhaps the Goodreads you experience is directly related to your own use of it.  Just sayin'.

*But if you decide to join Goodreads, or are already on it, I would love to know what you are reading.  You can find my profile here and I will be sure to approve your friend request!


  1. Wow. I had no idea there was any sort of controversy re: GoodReads. I am on there, and from a general consumer standpoint (and from a design standpoint) I think it's well done compared to other similar sites I've checked out. I find people who complain about things like that fascinating...don't they have better things to do than care about what other people are using or not using? ;) I support your defense!

  2. The Salman Rushdie thing is kind of funny to me - I mean, wouldn't most authors also love to read?!? ;)
    I don't think any site is going to be perfect. But I enjoy Goodreads. Outside of the book blogging world, I enjoy connecting with my local friends on there and seeing what they're reading, commenting back and forth. And like you, I find it much more accurate than Amazon reviews.

  3. I'm on GoodReads, but until recently, didn't do much with it. I have a LOT to learn about how to use the site, but like you, I think it's a good way to keep track of my books and get ideas for interesting things to read. I sent you a friend request!

  4. I think I'm technically on Goodreads but rarely use it. Sometimes after reading a book that I find to be meh after reading great reviews, I'll check in to see if I'm in the minority. I didn't realize there was any controversy about it though!

  5. I use Goodreads obsessively for the same reasons you do - to keep track of what I read and what I want to read. It's the perfect site for that. I didn't realize all of this was going on; it sounds like some people just need to chill out. Books are supposed to be fun! :)