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Why I Stopped Using Goodreads

Anyone who reads frequently and/or buys books online from time to time has heard of Goodreads. Goodreads is an online community in which readers can review books, find new reads, join virtual book clubs and more. Goodreads has been around for a pretty long time and their lists show it. As a site member, you’ll get book recommendations based on previous reads, you can access lists of books based on a theme or subject and at the end of the year, you can even vote for their annual Book Award. Goodreads also has an integration with Amazon Kindle so if you read (or listen) to books via your Amazon account, they’ll automatically be added to Goodreads. Many authors and publishers also publish giveaways for their books via Goodreads. There is truly a lot to see and be a part of, which can either be exciting or overwhelming depending on your viewpoint.

For published authors, if you aren’t a Goodreads verified author yet, I suggest you do so. It will enable you to answer questions people have about your books, add your books to Goodreads more easily and it’s a great way to gain visibility.

Be that as it may, while I used Goodreads for years, I stopped using the site pretty much altogether in 2020. And no, it wasn’t because of COVID-19, it was because the site had always felt a tad frustrating to me and it felt like the user experience would never get better.

  • Goodreads is ugly. That’s plain and simple. The Home page is cluttered and you can’t do much to make it look nice. You get the ads, you get your feed and you can’t change the theme or rearrange the page.

  • While you can see the overall stats of how many books you read and placed in Goodreads, that’s about it.

  • The recommendations aren’t really accurate. I know quite a few people who get recommendations based on books they gave a single star.

  • The community is huge, which is good on one hand as you can meet tons of new people and get new ideas. However, there usually isn’t a cap on book clubs and reading groups so your group may have 100s of people in it and your comments may never be seen.

  • Goodreads review bombing. There’s far too much of it and Goodreads isn’t really doing thing about it. Review bombing is when someone purposefully and maliciously gives books negative reviews. Most of the time it is from a throwaway account and is geared towards books by BIPOC writers. It’s an issue that has been going on for years and even though it has been brought to Goodreads attention, they haven’t done anything to ameliorate it.

  • The fact that your Goodreads stats are so visible. It is standard on Goodreads that pretty much anyone can see the books you read and your reviews. While it is possible to make it more personal, no one should have to go through hoops in order to do so.

So, I went ahead and moved over to The StoryGraph.

The StoryGraph

The StoryGraph is pretty similar to Goodreads. The biggest difference is that the interface is simple and easy to navigate, even without having years of experience on the site. StoryGraph is independent and ad-free, which is rare on the internet today. Some of the features that stick out to me is that you can change the theme, track your pages or hours listened and then see it all visually on a chart. Moreover, if you have used Goodreads, you can transfer all your Goodreads history to StoryGraph with a few simple steps.

StoryGraph makes it easy to add friends and join buddy reads. You can also join reading challenges and create your own, whether just for you, or to be shared with the wider reading community. I also love the fact that on this site you can easily see if a book is fast-paced or slow or somewhere in between. You can also clearly locate a book’s content warnings if there are certain things that may be triggering for you. And while you can write a review, there’s also a simple form of questions that you can answer about the book.

While most features that you would ever want to use are free, StoryGraph does offer a premium experience for $5/month.

Plus includes:

  1. Being able to vote on upcoming features

  2. Being first in line for customer support

  3. Getting exclusive charts and ways to filter your stats.

I use the basic plan and enjoy it. So don’t worry about missing out on some crucial features if you don’t want to subscribe. The Plus Plan is all about extras, but none of the features you need to enjoy the site are behind a paywall.

Image of the various stats you can see on StoryGraph.

Other options to chart your reading progress:

  • Having a physical book tracker will never go out of style!

  • Having a journal with your books can be a fun and creative craft. I’ve seen some really cool ones. There’s the added benefit of cutting down on screentime.

  • Creating your own spreadsheet.

  • While it may be a bit more work on the frontend, you can easily create your own spreadsheet. This is a great way to keep track of ARCs you may receive. ARC stands for advanced reader copy. If you’re interested, check out this post.

  • If you’re looking for somewhere to start, here’s a spreadsheet I created some time ago. Take a look, make a copy and try it out!

How do you keep track of the books you read and your TBR pile?

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