Goodreads: it’s the center of the book Internet. The forum of popular bookish opinion. But can Goodreads ratings really be trusted?
I’ve been wanting to do a discussion post about Goodreads for a while, so when I saw this tag on The Reading Addict the other day, I decided to do it!
Before we begin, I want to quickly explain why I haven’t posted for three weeks in a row. By now it seems clear that my consistent blogging schedule is a thing of the past (I’m sorry…) but the reason I’ve skipped out on posting lately is because I’ve been studying for AP exams and generally trying to balance homework with my other extracurriculars and going back to in-person school. In short, I haven’t had time to blog, and I’ve been in a reading slump too. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to put as much focus on my blog until school ends in June, but I have so many post ideas that I can’t wait to write when my schedule frees up.
After that long and perhaps unnecessary disclaimer, it’s time to move onto the tag!
1. What is the highest rated book that you gave a low rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on Average Rating and find the highest rated book you gave a low rating).
The entire world is going to hate me for this one, but it’s Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.
Technically there were two books ahead of this one, but I had to skip them because for Where the Crawdads Sing my GR rating doesn’t match my blog review rating (? yeah, I don’t know either) and for The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan, I read that in 5th grade and really can’t remember what I didn’t like about it. So here we are.
To be fair to Leigh Bardugo, I was in a reading slump when I read this and probably shouldn’t have been reading a slow-paced book. I know the book is well-written; it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m also not used to reading fantasy, so jumping into such a dense– well, not dense, well-developed is the word I’m looking for– book with all sorts of hard-to-remember place names and a million characters was jarring. Everyone is talking about the Netflix adaption though, so I might buddy-read Shadow and Bone with my friend. The hype is making me curious, and I am a book-first-ALWAYS type of person.
2. What is the lowest rated book that you gave a high rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on Avg Ratings, in reverse order, and find the lowest rated book you gave a high rating).
The first book I see is Unfriended by Rachel Vail. I read this in 8th grade, and I and my rating scale have both changed (a LOT) since then, but I still remember one of the scenes from this book so it obviously had an impact on me. From what I remember, it was about middle school popularity, bullying, and social media.
3. What is the most popular book you disagree with the avg rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on number of Ratings, and find the first book you disagree with the avg rating)
Ah, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The quintessential you-either-love-it-or-you-hate-it book. It seems that everyone who’s read this falls into either the Holden-Caulfield-is-a-whiny-brat camp or the Holden-Caulfield-is-really-relatable camp. I fell into the latter.
The sad thing about it is, none of my sophomore English class agreed with me. Anyway, if you really want to know the truth of it, they’re all a bunch of phonies. It just makes me so depressed. It really does.
4. What is the least popular book you disagree with the avg rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on number of Ratings, in reverse order, and find the first book you disagree with the avg rating)
The book that comes up for this one is Wild Horses I Have Known by Hope Ryden. I can’t believe it only has 23 ratings.
I love horses.When I was a toddler I had dozens of horse figurines that I would play with all day. I worshipped My Little Pony. I used to want horseback riding lessons (that got a no from my parents). Anyway, I found this book in a vintage secondhand book shop in I think 2016 or 2017, and I used to read it before bed to help me fall asleep.
The author was a wild horse photographer, and this book is a collection of essays/anecdotes about the horses she photographed over her career. It’s full of beautiful photography and interesting tidbits about, well, horse psychology and behavior.
5. Choose two books that have an average rating of 3/5 stars but you gave a higher rating.
This is sort of cheating since I’m choosing ones in the range of 3-4 stars (I think that better reflects the trends of Goodreads; “average” books seem to fall around 3.8 or so)
First we have Turtles All the Way Down, which is my favorite John Green book! I really related to Aza, and I don’t know why this book gets overlooked by John Green fans so much of the time.
Second is The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, the plot of which I thought was brilliant, albeit a little confusing at times. It was my favorite book from March.
6. Choose two books that have an average rating of 3/5 stars but you gave a lower rating.
Since I talked about my favorite John Green book already in this post, I’ll go ahead and pick out my least favorite John Green book: An Abundance of Katherines.
Second is Caraval by Stephanie Garber, which showed me again that YA fantasy/romance might just not be the best genre for me.
7. Choose two books that have an average rating of 4/5 stars but you gave a lower rating.
First up is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, which, come to think of it, I might have been a little harsh on. I loved the characters and really want to watch the movie.
Second is Wildcard by Marie Lu. I loved the first book in this series, Warcross, but this sequel took the plot in a different direction and wasn’t my favorite. I still like Marie Lu as an author though and so many of her books are waiting on my TBR for when I feel like reading SFF!
8. Choose two books that have an average rating of 2/5 stars but you gave a higher rating.
Here’s the thing: your book has to be really really bad to have a 2/5 on Goodreads. Out of the 1,086 books I have shelved on the site, none fall below a 3!
9) Do you tend to agree or disagree with GR average rating and do you use GR as a guide for books you want to read?
I can’t help but pay attention to the average ratings, and while I try not to let it skew my own reviews, I sometimes feel strange going against the grain, especially if I liked a low-rated book. I don’t mind putting bad ratings on highly-rated books as much, for some reason.
I do think there is a lot of groupthink on Goodreads, and the average ratings are occasionally skewed (ex: YA books usually have higher ratings than adult books, and classics usually have comparatively bad ratings because of all the one-star reviews from kids who had to read them for homework) I’ve been contemplating this a lot lately.