Book Tag | Goodreads Was Wrong

This has been floating around the book blogosphere for a few years, but I believe the tag originated with Gabs About Books on YouTube. I have a love-hate relationship with Goodreads, and have used it inconsistently over the past 11 years (!!) and I’m intrigued to expose my own unpopular opinions.

1. What is the highest rated book that you gave a low rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on average ratings and find the highest rated book you gave a low rating)

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Goodreads average: 4.25

My rating: 3

Perhaps self-help non-fiction is not for me, but I just couldn’t understand what everyone was raving about with Brené Brown. I didn’t find her ideas to be all that substantial and definitely not life-changing. Maybe I was generous with the 3 stars!

2. What is the lowest rated book that you gave a high rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on average ratings, in reverse order, and find the lowest rated book you gave a high rating)

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey

Goodreads average: 2.8 (ouch!)

My rating: 4

I had an ARC of this and for the longest time I avoided it, scared off by the dismal GR score. But then I considered how GR has definitely been wrong before, and decided to give it a go. I found the fragmentary style to be compulsively readable, and it interrogates modern womanhood in a pretty unflinching, nuanced way. Don’t be put off by the GR score if you can handle a non-traditional narrative! Review here.

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 average rating)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Goodreads average: 3.88

My rating: 2

Number of reviews: A staggering 2.2 million

This book is just so totally overrated for me. I was recommended it at an age when I was much more receptive to such whimsy, and I can only imagine that if I re-read it now, I would have an even stronger negative reaction.

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 average rating)

Margarettown by Gabrielle Zevin

Goodreads average: 3.46

My rating: 2

Number of reviews: 1,129

One of my favourite books as a young teen was ‘Elsewhere’ by Gabrielle Zevin. So enamoured was I with this book that I wrote one of my favourite passages down my door in sharpie.

As I started to feel like I was aging out of YA, I looked to some of Zevin’s adult fiction – but Margarettown was such a bizarre experience for me, and 10 years on I remember little about it apart from it being confusing and weird.

5. My thoughts (aka mini-rant) on Goodreads

When I created an account on the site in 2010, our expectations for what a website could/should do were very different from today. Back then, just the fact of being able to track your books in something other than a spreadsheet or alphabetised diary (yes, I had one of those – sort of like an address book for books) – was good enough.

The problem is, despite the might of the almighty, tyrannous Amazon behind it, Goodreads still feels like a website from the noughties. The amount of data they aggregate could produce fascinating insights into our reading behaviour – the basics on genre breakdown and pages read, but also how many authors of colour, and what times of year do we read or shelve the most. There are loads of things I’d be interested to know, and Goodreads tells me none of them.

My second bugbear is related to the first – think of the recommendations that we could get if the algorithms were smart enough! I don’t know about you, but the recommendations panel when on a certain title is always quite baffling, and rarely are these recommendations relevant to the selected book – or they just push the same books as recommendations on multiple pages. It’s hardly a way of discovering books you might not otherwise have known about.

There are absolutely good things about Goodreads – I wouldn’t have kept using it if there weren’t. I just wish it would do more (and wasn’t owned by Amazon). Rant over!


Here are the questions:

I picked and chose my questions, but here is the list in full if you’d like to participate!

1. What is the highest rated book that you gave a low rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on Average Ratings and find the highest rated book you gave a low rating).

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).

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)

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).

5. Choose two books that have an average rating of 3/5 stars but you gave a higher rating.

6. Choose two books that have an average rating of 3/5 stars but you gave a lower rating.

7. Choose two books that have an average rating of 4/5 stars but you gave a lower rating.

8. Choose two books that have an average rating of 2/5 stars but you gave a higher rating.

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?

2 thoughts on “Book Tag | Goodreads Was Wrong

  1. Love this tag, I always like to see what books people have liked or disliked that wasn’t synonymous with the majority, as Goodreads certainly is off a lot! And I totally agree that it still feels like a website from ten years ago — but I suppose its too popular for them to bother changing anything!

    Liked by 1 person

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