The Flaws of Goodreads Ft. Some Alternatives

It is a well known fact that Goodreads is not ideal as far as book websites go. And although the book community has been issuing complaints for many a year, there is still no change in site for the website. Since I currently have nothing better to do I’ve decided to compile a list of grievances I have associated with the site. Can Goodreads do better? Yes. Will they? Uh, no.

Obviously, I’m not saying that I could design a better website for keeping track of books and reading goals, but if I were a $150 million dollar website owned and operated by one of the biggest businesses of the 21st century I would spruce things up every now and then.

Grievance Number 1:

Why….why are there no half star ratings?? It seems especially odd to me that there are no incremental ratings on Goodreads given that there average ratings for books are (obviously) given in decimal increments and not rounded to whole numbers. If it makes sense for the average rating to not be rounded, why do the individual ratings have to be rounded? So often there are times when I read books that are 3.5 of 4.5 stars, and for me, there’s a world of difference between a 3 and a 4 star rating. Not being able to encapsulate the true rating I’d like to assign to a book is a well of frustration.

Please give us incremental ratings…please

Oh you’re a reviewer and you want to rate a book indicating a slight nuance? Oops, sorry. You’re going to have to write out in your review that you had a fractional rating, because our website can’t fathom anything less than a full star (unless we’re talking about the average rating of course).

Grievance Number 2:

The search function on Goodreads is g a r b a g e. You type one letter slightly wrong and the entire search is completely off. Autofill? Exists in the worst form where it’s like Goodreads is trying to guess the opposite of whatever title you’re trying to enter. In addition to that, there are times when you’ll type the title in completely right, but it’ll still give you the wrong output! Why?? Where is Goodreads storing their data? Why must I type in an authors name and then scroll through their works to find the book I want even when I enter the title completely correct??

I’m half convinced that Goodreads is messing with us for fun

I don’t know if it’s too much to ask but I feel like an online book database should be better organized. If only to let their users find the books they want with an air of relative ease.

Grievance Number 3:

I genuinely believe that Goodreads is operated by a single person stuck in a basement somewhere because the level of incompetence associated with (well almost everything) filtering out fake and real reviews AND with weird unsolicited messages is kind of strange. Like why does a book reviewing website let racist people keep one star reviews up for books they haven’t even read? Goodreads said “No checks and balances, only chaos, you want to leave a review for a book that doesn’t even have ARCs out yet? Go forth demon children.”

Goodreads execs choosing the vibe of the website

I mean WordPress has a simple service in place that can automatically hold back spam comments. Can’t this thing be done with spam reviews? As sucky as Goodreads is, it is an important site that helps readers decide whether or not they want to read a book. If the average rating of a book is super low because of spam reviews that can seriously damage an authors career. Also, this tends to happen almost exclusively with BIPOC authors who are already at a significant disadvantage within the publishing industry. Step up Goodreads.

Grievance Number 4:

Please for the love of god stop emailing me every time I finish a book. I know I finished the book. I’m the one that read it. I am also the one who marked it as read on your god forsaken website.

In association with this, maybe make a better recommending algorithm? I have seen so many terrible “if you liked…try this” from Goodreads it’s downright embarrassing. It’s like Goodreads has valuable reviewers data at the tips of their fingers and then they just ignore it and throw random crap together to see if it sticks (spoiler alert: usually it does not).

Grievance Number 5:

I just wish that the Goodreads awards would do better. Every year it’s an overwhelming sea of white non-diverse authors even when there are fantastic popular books by AOC that are just never given the chance. Again, the sole purpose of Goodreads is to be able to let readers know of new books as such I kind of wish that Goodreads would have some sort of function that would let readers of know of some (actually) underrated books.

Like see a book that only has 1,400 ratings but they’re all stellar ratings with raving reviews? Maybe create a section in your (useless) newsletter that lets more people know about this book that people have been enjoying! I know that most underrated books get championed by bloggers, but a book blogger’s reach is clearly not the same as Goodreads. Especially when so many more people will read Goodreads reviews and recommendations rather than blog posts.

I could go on and on about the shortcomings of this website. But I don’t have all day to write this, and I bet that you don’t have all day to read this. I just hope that as unlikely as it is, Goodreads will one day move forward and try to do better. As they are clearly not doing that in the future, here are some alternatives that readers have been saying are at least trying to do better than Goodreads!

I’ve heard great things about both Storygraph and BookSloth and although I haven’t been active on accounts on those sites in the past as I’m going to try to be moving forward! Another very fun book reviewing site that I recently became aware of is Readerly! Readerly is sort of like a twitter for books, where instead of posting a full review for a book you can post a short snippet that you feel encapsulates the book to try and generate interest in it.

You can find me here on The StoryGraph and my Readerly username is @paper_engine. If you do check out my StoryGraph you will see that it is absolutely barren. But! It is a goal of mine to use it more in the future, so feel free to connect with me on there.

What do you think of Goodreads? Have you tried StoryGraph or Book Sloth? How do you keep track of your reading?

41 thoughts on “The Flaws of Goodreads Ft. Some Alternatives

  1. Tbh I’m okay without half-star ratings, because I’m already SUPER indecisive, so I feel like half-star ratings would give me even more existential crises, but I TOTALLY agree for everything else. Getting on Goodreads and seeing someone rate a book one star with no explanation and the book doesn’t have ARCs yet? It’s an experience. And Goodreads has weird rules around not commenting on an author’s behavior? But the weird bigoted reviews can stay I guess???

    The recommendation algorithms are freaking HILARIOUS. Like I read Children of Blood and Bone and then you’re recommending me books about growing up under communism?? I read an ancient Greek history book and you’re recommending me The Cat in the Hat??? (And yes, those are real examples!)

    Anyway, I love your post! Goodreads needs to step up the game smh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s sooooo weird!! Like if Goodreads was a smaller site I would get that it might be hard to moderate all the reviews and comments but they’re literally Amazon 😭 It’s not that hard.

      Hahahhahaha, I love your examples!! Sometimes I check the recommendation algorithm and even if I don’t get good recommendations, I do get a good laugh.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree so much with all of these but β€œI know I finished the book. I’m the one that read it” made me laugh out loud. Those emails irritate me soooo much. And the Goodreads Awards are such a mess.

    As much as many parts of Goodreads annoy me, there are still a lot of features that I’ve been sticking around for :\ I’m hoping that eventually I will move entirely over to The StoryGraph, but I’m not quite ready for that yet for a few reasons. I’m just stuck updating three different websites every time I finish a book for now :’)

    Fantastic post Chana!! It was so cleverly written and had me smiling and nodding along the whole way through πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!! Aah, Goodreads is like that ex you can’t help but go back to πŸ˜“ Like I wish there was an alternative but Goodreads has so many useful features that I can’t let go of.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. YES! So much yes. Grievance #4 drives me nuts! This is one reason why I also track my books in StoryGraph, which I think has a way better search function and interface (and is clearly designed around book recs). But I can’t fully divorce GR because it’s tied to Amazon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! I’m so happy I started using StoryGraph, they have so many useful functions. I can’t wait to see the website grow more and hopefully become a real competitor to Goodreads.

      Like

  4. Okay, I can help you fix ONE of your issues with Goodreads. You can set your email preferences so that you only receive emails for certain things. I don’t get them for most things anymore. Click on your picture icon in the top right corner and then choose Account Settings. Then click on the Email tab to limit what types of emails you get.

    Of course, that doesn’t solve all of your other issues – I agree with them all!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG WHAT I can’t believe I didn’t know that!! Thank you!! At long last I will be free of those update emails 😍

      Like

  5. this is an excellent post! i don’t need to worry about the goodreads email thing, i’ve turned everything off so i don’t get those. i started using storygraph a few weeks ago and am really enjoying it. i like that there’s more options to select things about the book (like the pacing!!! i find this so handy, and questions about plot vs character driven books). i find storygraph a lot easier to determine my next read as i’m given more information without having to read spoiler-y reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. to add on to this comment, i think storygraph would be so much better if it had the community that goodreads has. i feel like there isn’t many who actually use storygraph and therefore it’s not as “fun”. this could also be because i don’t follow anyone πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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    2. Aaah, the comments to this post have let me know about turning off the email updates and I’m so happy to have finally found out about it πŸ˜„ Yess, StoryGraph has so many great features! Adding TW, pacing, etc. But I definitely agree with you. There isn’t much of a community on StoryGraph right now, which is one of the main reasons it’s easier to stick with Goodreads πŸ˜ͺ

      Like

  6. Yes, yes, yes to all of these! I’m absolutely cackling at this rant – the star thing and the terrible search function drives me nuts, too, and the sentence “I know I finished the book.” had me snorting. I’ve actually deleted those goodreads emails so many times by now that my email program even recognizes them as spam 🀣 Still, even though there are probably way better sites out there, I’m just super lazy. I have years worth of books on goodreads, and if I wanted to switch to storygraph, I think it’d kind of annoy me to no longer have all that information in one place πŸ˜… I’m weird like that… But since I mainly use goodreads to keep track of what I read and rarely use it for anything else, I guess it’s fine 😁
    Great post, Chana!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every single time I look for a book in Goodreads I need to type it into the search box at least 3 times 😭 Yeah, it’s so hard to make the transition after using Goodreads for so long! One good thing about Storygraph though, is that you can import all your data from Goodreads! It’ll upload all your previous reads, reviews, ratings etc.

      Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish there were half star as well! I do half stars ALL THE TIME. Goodreads search is garbage but with that said I’ve actually found some new books through it hahaha. When it shows me the wrong books I’ll be like “ooooh whats that?” and suddenly I’ve added more to my TBR. Maybe that’s their ploy. lol Unfortunately, I just don’t have the patience to start over on a different service lol. I tried Readerly and I’m not a huge fan …. but I haven’t tried Storygraph. Maaaaaybe I’ll try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Literally, all my ratings are half-star!! Hahahaha, Goodreads ultimate plan is to just introduce us all to different genres πŸ˜‚ It is SO much work to switch over to another service. I’ve been trying with StoryGraph but fdafadfajsd it’s really hard πŸ˜ͺ

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  8. The recommendation algorithm of GoodReads is amazing. It’s just amazing. It’s unbelievable how fantastically that thing works. They deserve a prize for designing that masterpiece. (i am being incredibly sarcastic of course)
    The entire website is just a disaster. For something that’s a part of the 21st century, and controlled by Amazon, why, just whyyy is it so poorly designed? A little kid could honestly design a much better website πŸ™„ And I’ve actually stopped using the search function on GR: I just search for the book in google and go to the GR link from there, or I choose the book from My Books. Their search engine just pains me too much to use it.

    Though I have to admit, I do like the “Readers Also Enjoyed” list that pops up when you’re looking at a book. I’ve found a lot of decent books from there. And it is a little handy for compiling stats about books at the end of the year. But other than that, the website is just a big No.

    Anyway, I need to try TheStoryGraph and Readerly as I’ve heard a lot about them, but I’m too lazy to start the process of switching lol. Wonderful post, Chana ❀✨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s honestly SO BAD how bad it is 😭 Like at this point maybe it’s bad on purpose?? Like is this a social experiment or something?? Ah! That’s so smart!! I literally have to type in the book I want 3 different times to find the right one on Goodreads, so going straight through google will probably save me a bunch of time.

      Hahahha, I hope you enjoy StoryGraph and Readerly when you try them out!! I am very bad at keeping up with both of them but now I am going to make an actual effort and hopefully, it’ll work out 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. As far as I know, Readerly is only an app for now, hopefully that’ll change! Yay! We can both work on being more active on StoryGraph together πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This post immediately intrigued me because I’m new to book blogging and thought that Goodreads was like a holy grail or something. Your grievances and gif choices made me laugh and I definitely agree with a lot of your points. Especially the frustration of typing in a book slightly off and the search not coming up with anything. I also don’t like not being able to give half stars, they must do it on purpose to compel people to write a review.

    I don’t have storygraph but I’ve heard about it and I love looking at stats so I’m tempted to sign up.

    Great post, Chana πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so hard because honestly, Goodreads is such a useful tool for keeping track of books! I think that the longer you use it though, the more you realize the problems with it since they never ever update their website πŸ˜‚

      Yes!! You should definitely try StoryGraph! I’m not suuper active on there right now, but I do know that they often make updates based on user feedback so that’s a definite plus over Goodreads.

      Thank you!! πŸ’•

      Like

    1. Hahahha, I’m the same!! I keep on telling myself to use StoryGraph more but it’s so hard to stray away from my usual habits πŸ˜…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I too was going to help with the email one but Nicole beat me to it! But to that end, why are the settings so hard to track down anyway!? It took me YEARS to figure out how to change that stuff!

    And the rest are HARD yeps. The awards thing pisses me off extra because it isn’t *just* Goodreads sucking, it is society at large sucking. I cannot tell you how many amazing books I wrote in and voted for last year, but NOPE let’s give Sarah Maas or whoever more awards. (And come on, those books aren’t even GOOD, even if people do find them enjoyable. Ugh I could go on for years.)

    ALSO I think you nailed it- it’s a middle aged white cishet guy living in his mom’s basement designing the whole thing. Ugh I just wish they could get it together, because in THEORY, it’s a great site. Also, YES to banning Charles, who rates EVERY BIPOC (and woman authored) book coming out in 2024 one star. Literally, this piece of human trash must spend entire DAYS of life trolling Goodreads just to be a garbage can. (Yes, I am mad hah.)

    I really do want to switch, but it is so overwhelming and daunting, you know? I think I made the most progress on BookHype, because it lets you easily import your Goodreads list (I should see if the others do too!) but it didn’t import some of the upcoming releases (or rather, quite a few of them). But it is visually appealing and seems to feature diverse books so at least there’s that. Wonderful, wonderful post!!

    Like

    1. I cannot believe it took me so long to find out about the email thing 😭 I have hundreds of emails in my inbox *taunting* me and at long last, I can be rid of them!!

      The awards are the worst!! Like it’s always the same authors being nominated and winning, and I feel like they can have much more interesting categories! Just because an author is really big with mobs of adoring fans doesn’t mean that another author’s less popular work doesn’t deserve a chance.

      The fact that Goodreads allows these troll rating accounts to stay up but when that whole debacle with the author calling reviewers garbage got her a bunch of one-star reviews Goodreads stepped in and removed those reviews?? Like you have bigger issues here. Please. Get some moderators!!

      StoryGraph also lets you import your Goodreads library which is great! I will admit that I kind of maaaybe imported my library and then made no more updates to my account. But! I will be trying harder in the future.

      Thank you!! πŸ₯°

      Like

  11. Your points are sooo legal! I think GR was better before amazon bought it. It had a soul. Now it’s just business. They change design all the time, which I don’t really like but can not fix important stuff. Sad(

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly!! It’s like there isn’t a team behind it that cares about it anymore. And it really sucks because with all of the resources they have at Amazon you’d think they’d work on improving it πŸ˜ͺ

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I am with you. Goodreads is absolute trash. I was really excited when I first discovered Storygraph but then promptly didn’t use it. Now they’ve got it so there’s an app or something (I think) so maybe now it’s a bit more accessible on the move I can use it more? I need access on my phone as that’s where I tend to do most updates for books. But even goodreads app is terrible. Considering its owned by Amazon you’d think they’d have added some of the usability of that site to Goodreads but not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. fahfahfjfah literal same!! I was like, YES A GOODREADS ALTERNATIVE! And then I made an account, imported my books, andddd that’s it. It seems to me that Goodreads is an asset that Amazon bought and then decided to stuff in a closet somewhere to never deal with again 😭

      Like

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