Jo Talks Books: On The Pros and Cons of Goodreads

Hi everyone! I didn’t mean for it to be so long for me to get up my first discussion post of July but I’ve been busier than expected. This was actually a post that was inspired by another discussion post I did, when I was talking about how difficult I find it to DNF and how Goodreads is a contributing factor to that, and it got me thinking about Goodreads and all the pros and cons of using it and I figured I could do a whole discussion post on it, so here I am!

I figure most, if not all bloggers know what Goodreads is, but for those of my readers who aren’t necessarily bloggers/don’t use Goodreads, Goodreads is basically a cataloguing site for book lovers, there’s a huge catalogue of books and you can create lists of books you’ve read and want to read and share these with people you know. You can also review and rate books that you’ve read and follow other people’s reviews so that you can see what they’re reading and what they think about it.

The Pros

On the surface, that sounds very cool right? And it is, there are definite benefits to using Goodreads. For one thing, it’s a great way of keeping track of new releases, I find out about most new releases through other bloggers but I can then go straight to Goodreads, find the new release and add it to my to-read list. Then I’m guaranteed not to just forget about it because it’s right there. You can also see what your friends/fellow bloggers are reading, which can result in new reading recommendations for you if you have similar tastes (I mean more books, never a bad thing right?).

Goodreads is also a great way of keeping track of what you read yourself. I mean sure, my blog kind of functions as that as well, but it only has books I’ve read since I started blogging whereas Goodreads has everything that I’ve read (that I can remember of course, I’m sure I’ve read way more books than the total on my Goodreads read shelf) regardless of whether I read it before or after I started blogging. It means that all of the books I’ve read, regardless whether I own them, borrowed them, or have been given them for review are in one convenient place and I can keep track of my reading stats for end of year wrap ups for the blog which is great!

Goodreads also means you can check out reviews for books before you buy them. I’m actually kind of on the fence about this particular aspect of Goodreads and don’t tend to check the reviews of a book before I buy it? I prefer to rely on my gut instinct as to whether I’ll like a book or not and checking out a bunch of reviews before I buy a book, be they positive or negative, probably won’t change my gut instinct about a book but they will give me expectations which I don’t like having, I’d rather go into all books blind (though this is near impossible as a blogger) than with any kind of expectation.  I prefer to check out Goodreads reviews either whilst I’m reading (avoiding all spoiler tabs) or after I’m done to see if other people felt the same way about them. But still, for those who do like to check out reviews of a book before they buy them, this is a definite advantage of Goodreads.

Goodreads is also an easy way of finding quotes that you like from a book that you want to share, as you can just type the book’s name into the search engine under the quotes tab and find the one you want as opposed to having to flick through the entire book for one specific quote.

It’s also a great way of finding presents for your book loving friends as you can find out what they like/haven’t read yet, from their Goodreads! (if they have one of course).


However, as with anything there are drawbacks as well as benefits to using Goodreads. I could probably do an entire separate post on the benefits vs drawbacks of the Goodreads Reading Challenge, but really, it’s just a symptom of one of the wider drawbacks of Goodreads, it can make you feel bad about how much/little you read. When you’re seeing all your Goodreads friends reading hundreds of books a year, it can make you feel a bit bad about your 20-30 odd books a year, even when logically you know that people read at different paces and you don’t have time to be constantly reading. I have been working on getting better with this, but it is hard not to feel a little bad/jealous when you see people having read 60-70 odd books already when you’ve only just cracked 20! I honestly never really thought about how much I read in a year before I started Goodreads, but now I’m constantly thinking about it, and it’s not great really!

I also feel like I have to finish every single book I read (as a by product of both doing the Goodreads challenge and just blogging in general) because if I DNF anything then it won’t count towards my Goodreads challenge.

One of the major cons about Goodreads is that the overall average rating for a book is not always reliable, because readers are allowed to rate books before they are even released based on how excited they are for it. Now unpopular opinion time, I don’t think we should be able to do this. Fair enough, readers who have ARCs of a book rating it when they’ve finished, they’ve read the book, formed an opinion, of course they should be able to rate it even if it’s not released. But readers rating a book before they’ve even read it is not good, because it can skew the rating for an author’s book if lots of people just happen to dislike said author which doesn’t seem really fair to me. I tend not to look at the average rating on Goodreads because it’s pretty unreliable really, you never know how much of the rating has come from people who have actually read the book and how much has not.

Goodreads also doesn’t allow you to use half stars (seriously could do a whole ranty post about this because it really annoys me), so you either have to up your rating or down it if your actual opinion on a book lies between two different star ratings. Sure, you can explain this in your review, but it will again mean that the average rating for a book is unreliable as many people may have in actuality given a book a half star rating but this won’t be shown as Goodreads does not allow you to do this.

Overall, whilst there are things about Goodreads that I would change, it has definitely been a useful tool in my reading and blogging to keep track of what I read and has allowed me to connect with other readers and find new releases, so I am glad that I use it, but I do hope that in the future some changes will be made to the site in order to make it more reliable in terms of finding book recommendations, particularly in regards to allowing people to rate books that they haven’t even read yet.

So let’s chat! What do you like most about Goodreads? What do you dislike most about Goodreads? Do you use Goodreads or a different site in order to keep track of what you read (or no site at all)? What would you change about Goodreads if you could? Let me know in the comments!

I will hopefully have another discussion post up for you soon (the end of the month will be too busy with YALC!), I’m going to be giving tips to new bloggers. In the meantime, the next you’ll hear from me will probably be my new Top Ten post on Tuesday.




16 thoughts on “Jo Talks Books: On The Pros and Cons of Goodreads

  1. journeyintobooks July 16, 2017 / 7:46 pm

    Great post, I love Goodreads though I definitely agree that there are some drawbacks especially the fact that you can’t use half star in your ratings.

    • iloveheartlandx July 17, 2017 / 10:14 am

      Thank you! Yes, I think Goodreads is great, but it does have its disadvantages. I don’t know why they haven’t changed that yet, everyone complains about it!

  2. Rachael July 17, 2017 / 1:50 am

    I agree: I’d really like there to be half star ratings or maybe a different scale entirely. This is an awkward expectation though because there are bunch of things that are generally rated according to a five star system (restaurants, hotels, movies, etc.). But I do like how I can track my reading and I have benefited a lot from being able to create shelves to organize books. When someone wants a recommendation for a book and knows what genres and categories they want I can go to a shelf I’ve created and look at the books I’ve put there. Love your post!

    • iloveheartlandx July 17, 2017 / 10:13 am

      I don’t mind the five star system, it’s pretty standard, but I would definitely like there to be half star ratings, it gets annoying having to round my rating up or down when it doesn’t reflect how I felt about the book. Yes, those features are definitely awesome. Thank you!

  3. rimpytoor July 17, 2017 / 2:34 am

    Hi I’m from twitter! I followed – mine is

  4. Diana July 17, 2017 / 11:31 am

    Great post! I think the part that I love most about goodreads is about reviews. I love being able to read reviews especially for books that I am interested in. Most reviewers are careful about not posting spoilers so I always check goodreads before I read a book. And yeah, we need half stars already 🙂

    • iloveheartlandx July 18, 2017 / 11:25 am

      Thanks! Like I said, I personally don’t check Goodreads for reviews before reading, but I know it’s useful for a lot of people. Yes we do!

  5. Wendleberry July 17, 2017 / 9:12 pm

    I agree with the half stars criticism! I don’t idea half stars too often, but when I do, I really need it!!
    The reading challenges don’t bother me. I know people who read hundreds of books, but they’re children’s books or graphic novels or they’re reading is part of their job—it’s never comparable to your own reading goal ♥

    • iloveheartlandx July 18, 2017 / 11:18 am

      Ah see I’m clearly very indecisive as I need half stars a lot! It’s probably just my inner competitiveness coming out there, I have an unfortunate need to win, even when I’m not really competing against anyone else!

  6. I totally agree! Goodreads has been great for me as I can keep track of what I’ve read but there are some parts of it that just annoy me :’) I would also love to leave half stars ahah!

    • iloveheartlandx July 18, 2017 / 5:17 pm

      Thanks! I think we all would, I don’t know why they haven’t made this a feature yet!

  7. lacyliteracy July 19, 2017 / 10:50 pm

    I love this post! I used to swear by Goodreads. Nowadays it stresses me out.

    • iloveheartlandx July 19, 2017 / 11:31 pm

      Thanks! I still like Goodreads, but I definitely get the stressful aspects!

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