I’m a latecomer to Goodreads. In fact I joined just two days ago, and here we are with the announcement that the site has been acquired by Amazon. I have no idea what that means for either site, but I have to say I’m undergoing something of a revelation in using the site.
One of the first things you do when you register is to rate books that you’ve read. The site, as many others do, uses a background algorithm to use that information to suggest other things that you might like to read.
I don’t know if I’m like everyone else that uses the site, but my first instinct was to rate everything I’ve read that I really enjoyed. All the authors and books that I searched for and rated were getting four and five stars. That’s reasonable enough, I suppose. Rating what I’ve enjoyed before is what is likely to point me at other writers I might want to take a look at, and the easiest books to think of are the ones I’ve really enjoyed.
I started wondering, though, if I should go in and rate books that I thought were truly dreadful. I’ve done one or two, but I’m wondering how many I could actually come up with if I tried. If I pick up a book and it’s boring me after the first few pages, I’ll put it down and not pick it up again. Recent examples are A Game Of Thrones and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, neither of which spoke to me, and both of which I put down after a couple of chapters.
As I gave it some thought, I realized that I couldn’t name more than a handful of titles to which I would give a negative review. It’s not that there aren’t poorly written or dull books out there, it’s just that they don’t get any attention or effort, and it’s so easy these days to avoid anything awful by looking at reader comments on websites and by talking to your friends.
In going through Goodreads and rating the books I liked, I was quickly reminded of my interests and influences – Michael Moorcock, Iain M Banks, Philip K Dick, Alfred Bester, Stanislaw Lem, and many others. Joining Goodreads and rating what you’ve read is a great way to reconnect with the writers who you’ve enjoyed in the past, and I found myself browsing titles on my bookshelf that I hadn’t looked at in a good long time.
Now I’m looking forward to seeing what Goodreads, using the information it has on my preferences, suggests that I ought to read. I’m hoping for some hidden gems and missed treasures. I’m not quite sure what I’ll think if it comes up with A Game Of Thrones or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo…