Literature

Reviewing Goodreads

A collage of the Goodreads, Storygraph, booksloth and Bookly logos.

by Hannah Anstee

Goodreads has been around since 2006, and has millions of users. You can use it to log what you read, keep and edit your TBR, join book clubs and do reading challenges. However, since it was bought by Amazon in 2013, many users have debated dropping it for an alternative. Amazon is a massive contributor to the decline in bookshops, as it’s cheaper to buy from a mega-corporation than an independent small business that can’t cheaply mass produce books in the same way – and that’s without getting into all the other issues and controversy around Amazon. I’ve found and tried out many alternative options, so here are some of the best.

A lot of people find that Goodreads recommendations aren’t specific enough. Often the choices are only vaguely connected (for example, just being in the same genre) and not really what you were looking for. Personally, I get most of my reviews and recommendations from book-focused social media accounts – there are plenty of book communities across Youtube, Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook – the list goes on! You might have read a science-fiction book recently, but if it was for the queer representation in that specific book, recommending sci-fi classics isn’t going to be much help. 

Storygraph is a better option for this purpose, and is becoming increasingly popular for just cataloguing books too. It shows you all the books you’ve read and when you logged them, as well as a list of your reading stats – how many books, your top genres, and your top ‘moods’. Moods are used to make recommendations more specific, and from my limited use, they seem to work well! There was quite a large difference between searching for a ‘historical fantasy novel’ and a ‘light-hearted funny historical fantasy novel’, so you can more easily find what you’re in the mood for even in a specific genre. Plus, if you are moving over from Goodreads, it’s very easy to import your book lists over.

If you’re a big fan of YA novels, you might want to try booksloth. Because they focus solely on YA, they can give very personalised recommendations for any specific topic or genre you can think of, and have really active book clubs and discussions too. In terms of having a close community, this is probably the best app.

And lastly, if you want to focus on your reading habits – whether that’s reading more or less! – why not try out Bookly? It shows you stats like Goodreads and Storygraph, but with way more depth, and you can log the hours you spend reading, which tells you your overall reading speed. They give you a report at the end of each month so you can see how much your habits change over time! This app has been the best for motivating me to read more because I can set myself challenges based on my personal statistics, rather than the generic ‘read this many books per month’. Instead, I try to read one more book this month than I did in November, or just focus on keeping my streak of reading a little every day going – the goals are a lot more achievable for those of us that can’t read all day every day.

In conclusion, there are plenty of better options to Goodreads available now, with a lot more variety and things to do depending on what you want to use them for! So whether you’ve just been using Goodreads as a catalogue, or you love setting yourself new challenges, consider trying out one of these more independent websites instead.

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