The Curse of Goodreads

Goodreads, don’t get me wrong I love being on Goodreads.  I love the fact that I can see what people are reading.  I like to see what books are coming out, and what books I have missed.  Goodreads can be an amazing resource to discover books that you will love.  Except here is the problem I have come to realize I have with Goodreads.  I have become a ratings snob.  Here is how I discovered I am a ratings snob.

My aunt called and was asking about a few books that she has had on her bookshelf for a long time.  I told her I would check the ratings on Goodreads.  So here is how the conversation went.

me: “That book has a rating of 3.21, get rid of it.”

aunt: “Isn’t anything over 3 good.”

me: “No, 3.21 is a terrible rating.”

aunt: “Well what about this book.”

me: “That one is 3.30, that is ok, but I would get rid of it.”

aunt: “ok, I will.”


Cut to a few days ago when I was making a top ten Tuesday list.  One of the books on there has a rating of 3.28.  Now, if I was going by my system I do now, I would have never picked that book up.  Sure the books isn’t groundbreaking.  It isn’t one I want to call all of my friends and tell them they must read.  However, it was a fun book for me to read.  I really enjoyed it.  It got me thinking about what those ratings mean on Goodreads.  Some people are going to rate books low.  Those people hate everything.  Then you have people who love every book they get their hands.  You know those kinds of people I am talking about.  The other problem is if I go just off of the ratings.  I am putting my book trust in the hands of people who I may not have anything in common with.  So, the conclusion I came to is I am going to stop putting so much stock in the ratings.  Will I still check them?  Yes, I will, but I won’t care if a book is not beloved.  I will definitely want to check books out with 4 or higher, but won’t discount a book just because it isn’t rated really high.  Except if the book is under 3.  Then forget it.  I guess I didn’t learn anything!


So, what are your thoughts on the Goodreads rating system?  Do you discount a book with a low rating?  Do you discourage others from reading low rated books?  Or is that just me.


8 thoughts on “The Curse of Goodreads

  1. I put very little stock in average ratings, if I even notice them at all. I’m more likely to look the numbers after the fact, more as a curiosity of how they compare to my own rating… and the number of high discrepancies just reinforces my decision not to let them influence which books I pick for myself and which I pass over.

    • That is an important way to look at the ratings. All of us have different kinds of experiences when reading. We shouldn’t let someone else dictate what that experience is.

  2. I was starting to feel as you described, when I realized that a 3.0 on the Goodreads scale, meant “I liked it,.” A 3.0 was like a high “C” or low “B” letter grade. That is a reasonable “grade” for most books out there. I was when I read a 4.3 rated book that I strongly disliked, that I started “switching” my thinking.

    Now, I HAVE to read the actual reviews. And by reviews, I mean people who have something to say about the author’s attention to plot and character development, whether a book has scenes that may trigger a reaction for people with a history of being victimized, and if it is a part of series that needs to be read in order. Or if it includes scenes of excessive violence, alternative lifestyles, mental illness and/or addiction. I care more about how the characters relate to each other, than if the sex was “hot,” or “nice,” or “OMG.” I can make that determination, myself when I read the book.

    Specific clues about the genre of the book are a must. I WANT to know before I buy something what to expect. Is it a YA, NA or historical novel? Then, it is NOT for me. I like to be able to eliminate those genres I don’t care for. We all have limited budgets and these clues help us maximize our buying dollars.

    Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are NOT optional in the book – AND in the review. (It’s a pet peeve of mine. A big one. Huge.)

    So, I don’t discourage folks from reading low-rated books, or high-rated books for that matter, provided they have an understanding of what they are paying for.

    I mean, we try shoes on, BEFORE, we buy them, right? 🙂

    • You make a good point. The rating may not mean as much as what the person had to say about the book.
      It also bugs me when people rate a book and all they have written is “OMG I can’t wait till this comes out”.
      It is important to just go with our gut in the end and to know what works for us as readers.

    • I agree you need to read the actual reviews and also check out some of the reviewers’ other reviews. You might see a pattern that indicates dislike of a certain type of book that you might quite like yourself–or vice versa. Also I would probably ignore any reviews with really poor grammar etc.

  3. I agree with the previous commenter, that the reviews mean a lot more than the ratings. With ratings, one thing you have to remember that everyone rates differently. I just read a blog post where one person explained what her ratings meant, and a 3 for her was still a pretty good book. For some, 3 is more average. So even with the explanations given by Goodreads as to what each star rating is supposed to mean, people still use it differently.

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