Goodreads: not so good anymore

Here’s a hot take for you…2017 is apparently going down as the year where everything you once loved revealed itself as trash. Somewhat related: I’ve been kind of “Marie Kondo-ing” my social media applications. Goodreads may be the next to go because it’s no longer bringing me joy.

There was a time, not very long ago, when I couldn’t even imagine my reading life without Goodreads. Now I’m basically like: “Meh.” Or, worse, sometimes I think: “Ugh. I have to go update Goodreads.”

I think Goodreads sort of lost the plot. I don’t go there for book reviews anymore because their book reviews are, for the most part, easily-gamed trash. Their website design feels clunky and badly in need of an overhaul. And their Android app is even worse. I finally just deleted it off my phone in frustration. The emails they send (with the one exception being their daily deals) are annoying (“You just finished a book. What are you going to read next?”). Plus most of their integrations with Kindle annoying, not helpful (ex: I really don’t want you to automatically add that book to my currently-reading shelf just because I opened it on my Kindle, thanks).

So what have I found myself doing this year instead of using Goodreads? I’m so glad you asked.

For book recommendations, I’ve been heavily leaning on a few podcasts I love (Reading the End, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Galactic Suburbia), the Tor.com mailing list, the BookRiot SFF Yeah mailing list, and a handful of “BookTubers” who appear to have similar book tastes to me (Little Book Owl, Thoughts on Tomes).

I’ve found other ways, better and easier ways, to track my reading. In parallel to tracking my reading on Goodreads, I started using a spreadsheet. I started with the one provided in this Book Riot post, then personalized it a little. It’s mostly been working well. It can be a little more time consuming to fill out because I have to look up all the book data, but it makes summarizing my reading stats very easy. I’m kind of a nut for spreadsheets, so I actually find this way more satisfying that updating Goodreads.

The only problem that I haven’t completely solved is where to keep track of all the books I want to read. This one is a little more complicated. On the one hand, I really like that Goodreads emails me when ebooks on my TBR shelf go on sale. But, they also email when all sorts of other books that I’m way less interested in go on sale. And I don’t really need to know when books go on sale because I’m trying to use my library and not to buy more ebooks.

So, if I can get by without the ebook sale emails (narrator: she can), then I really just need a parking lot for the various books I see and want to remember to someday put on hold and borrow from the library. I think this problem is relatively easy to solve by just adding a tab in my spreadsheet to keep track of books I want to read. The great thing about adding this to my spreadsheet is that I can then also keep track of where I heard about the book, or who recommended it to me. This is supposedly something you can do in Goodreads, but has always been such a hassle that I’ve never bothered to figure it out.

Can I get by without Goodreads? Yes, I think I can. Am I ready to give it up completely? Who knows. Place your bets and tune in to find out what I decide…

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