Judging a book by its Goodreads rating

underlying image is not my own HEAT UP THE PRESSES, I'VE NOTICED A RECURRING PROBLEM! I've noticed this problem in myself, on...

underlying image is not my own

HEAT UP THE PRESSES, I'VE NOTICED A RECURRING PROBLEM! I've noticed this problem in myself, on Sarah's blog Kerosene Lit, and just the overall blogging community. You might have this problem too. In fact, it's likely. 

Raise your hand if you've ever spotted a book in the bookstore and thought it looked like a good read.
Keep your hand raised if you didn't have enough money to just purchase books on a whim.
Keep it up IF because of those limited funds, you went to Goodreads and decided to buy the book based on what the collective rating was. I mean who wants to burn $20 bucks on a book that's potentially a mound of poo poo?
If your hand is STILL up... then you, my dear buddy, do what we all do. We judge books by their Goodreads ratings.


There are, of course, pros and cons to judging books based on Goodreads ratings, the big Pros being you save money and time. But today we're going to focus on the cons. 

Con #1 We pass up the opportunity to discover a read for ourselves
 This is potentially a pro because most people don't want to waste time reading a book they'll hate. But what makes this a con is that readers are now denied the adventure of figuring out what sucks and what doesn't on their own.We allow another's judgement to lead us. I was just struck with the mental image of Goodreads and bloggers being overprotective parents that never let their children figure things out for themselves *cackles*


Con #2 We miss out on good books. 
When I'm interested in a suggested book on Goodreads, I always see what the general consensus was from my friends. If they collectively hated it, I pass up on the book. If they loved it, I read it. This is ultimately a time saver, a Pro. Right? Maybe. But it's a flawed Pro. This Pro sets us up to miss out on books we might have otherwise loved. 


Con #3 Authors miss out on an income
If everyone followed the average rating on Goodreads, some authors would never get read and therefore never get paid.So much sweat and tears add to the creation of a story and all of that effort is dashed if some big shot bloggers don't like it. How horrible is that?


When I read Dorothy Must Die, I hated it so much. There were tons of fundamental reasons to find fault with the story, and opinionated reasons to hate it. I rated it 3 out of 5 stars, but I was so tempted to give it 2 stars. It's sequel earned almost 1 star from me. But on Goodreads, when I check out my friend's reviews the average opinion is that they loved the story! THERE'S SO MUCH GOOD IN THAT BOOK! It's a great read. If I didn't own the books I would buy them based soley on what Goodreads was telling me. And I would have hated that purchase. 

Alternatively, if everyone had judged the book based on my review, NOBODY WOULD OWN THAT STORY! I hated the book, but is that really fair? Just because I found so much to dislike, does Danielle Paige deserve to be out of a job? HECK NO! People shouldn't stop reading her stories because one little girl nobody knows said it was a bad book. but let's get real I'm never wrong *flips hair* Just like people shouldn't buy a book just because everyone loves it.


So we come back to the original scenario. You're in a bookstore staring at a cool book with an interesting blurb, and you don't know if you should buy it. Well I don't have a perfect, fool proof plan for you. In the end, if you buy that book or not is your choice. 

But here are some tips to buying books in the future:

Are YOU interested in the blurb? Buy it.
Are YOU drawn to the story? Buy it. 
Still hesitant? Read a few REVIEWS. Don't just look at ratings. Read exactly why people didn't like a story. Do their dislikes sound like things you wouldn't like?
STILL not sure? Read a few pages of the story to see if you like it.
STILL NOT SURE?? For the love of God just go get it from the library. Practice a trust fall with yourself. Trust your opinion and fall down that rabbit hole.


More times than not, a persons objections to a story are personal opinions. Another person's opinion isn't YOUR opinion. Books are different. People are different. We have different likes and dislikes. One person might hate romance, another may love it. Someone gets confused during action sequences, but someone else thinks the scenes were fascinating and well written. A handful of people think gore is great, others are squeamish to it. Some are detail snobs. Others prefer things to be sped up. I like fantasy novels containing slow burn romances between a prince and a commoner girl. Adrian thinks those plots are stupid. Bottom line is, people are different. 

Do not let someone else's opinion of a story stop you from discovering your favorite book of all time.

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22 comments

  1. I like this post. When I look at Goodreads for opinions, I a) already read the book and hated it and am looking at all the negative reviews for eloquence in mocking that I lack, or b) read both five star and one star reviews so I can determine exactly what people liked/disliked about the book and then decide if it's for me. Overall ratings don't mean too much to me anyway.

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    1. and your Flynn Rider gif is the. best. just saying. :)

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    2. I totally do your "A" and "B"! Simply because I like snooping and breaking a book down to all it's basic bits and understanding it from another's point of view xD Also sometimes 1 star reviews are just entertaining. Seriously, I read all the 1 Stars for Sshades of Grey AND IT WAS SO INCREDIBLY HILARIOUS XD I'm proud of you for being strong and using your own judgement :) Sometimes I get too tired to read, so I just do a brief scroll and check out the star ratings.
      Thanks for your comment! I always get really happy when you comment xD "AERIN RESPONDED AWW YES" *FIST PUMP*

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    3. exactly. and sometimes reviews break down exactly what I liked about the book, but couldn't put my finger on.
      Right? one star reviews, even of a book you liked, can be totally hilarious.

      welcome. :) I read all your posts, you know. And look forward to each of them.

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  2. Hahahaha, thank you for linking to me. Because, yes, I have a serious problem. I'm trying to be better, though. I remember before I started blogging I would just pick out books that I thought sounded good, or had a pretty cover. There was this one book called Fates that I read before I started blogging and I absolutely loved it. Well, I went on Goodreads after I read it and it was only rated, like, 3.29. I felt like maybe I shouldn't have liked it, or that I misunderstood what I read. SO SILLY! I realize now that I always seem to enjoy books that everyone else hates, and hate the books that everyone else loves *cough* Throne of Glass *cough*. We can't all have the same opinion. That would just be boring, right?! I loved this discussion. I wrote something similar a few months ago, but you are much more skilled in the discussion department, my friend.

    Sarah @ Kerosene Lit

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    1. You wrote something similar?? YOU MUST LINK ME TO IT! But yeah :/ I hate that feeling of loving a story and then just enough people hated it to make me doubt my opinion of the story. That happened to me with Fangirl. I thought Levi was a really cute character, but somebody convinced me he was a pushy jerk. In hindsight I'm like, "THAT IS COMPLETE BALDERDASH!" But at the time I felt so stupid for not seeing that in him when I read the story.
      But omg you didn't lie THrone of Glass? ....*hides* me neither xD
      Thank you for your comment! ^_^ Please do send me that link to your post. I wanna read it.

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  3. I know we don't usually comment on each other's posts, but I was so excited by this topic that I had to! I have, I'll admit, judged books by their Goodreads ratings in the past and it's steered me in the wrong direction a few times (there were a few books I could not stand that got three stars, which I consider a rating of "average"). I follow a couple of prolific reviewers on Goodreads and if their collective reviews of the book are low, then I don't read the book. They've been right about 80% where my reading taste is concerned. It's not a perfect system, but it lets me look at a potential book more critically.

    Also, to reiterate what you said, if you're on the fence about a book CHECK IT OUT AT THE LIBRARY!!! Libraries are awesome and have the lovely perk of being a risk free way of expanding your literary tastes.

    Okay, enough from me, well done as always buddy!

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    1. WELL HELLO MY PARTNER IN CRIME! Fancy seeing you here ^_^
      See for me, I consider 3.7 and higher to be a good rating. 3.5 or lower and I start to avoid it xD I don't know where this standard came from but it's the one I got. Yours sounds a bit more accurate haha
      AND YES THE LIBRARY IS SUCH A GOOD RESOURCE! If they don't have the book you can request they BUY it and they will most times. Or you could borrow it from a friend. Or you could read it IN the bookstore. There are plenty of resources for scoping out a book.
      Thanks for commenting, dear friend! :D

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  4. I am definitely influenced by the Goodreads rating, but it's not the only thing I take into account. When I'm looking at reading and/or buying a new book, I try to go read a few reviews before I make my decision. I know that other people's opinions aren't the only important thing, but I've been burned by grabbing a book that has an amazing sounding synopsis only to find that it has some major flaws - then I go and check reviews and see I could have saved myself the pain if I'd just checked into it ahead of time!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. EXACTLY! Reading the reviews for a book is a smart idea. They go into detail about why you should or should not read a story. And you can use your own judgement on whether or not you should then proceed to buy the book. But relying on ratings alone is the tricky part. Stars represent numbers and not in depth reasons.

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  5. I've been doing this for years! Since 2008/2009 for sure. Lol. If I'm uncertain about a book and ratings are below 3.5 stars, chances are I won't buy it. I do recognize however that there have been books I liked a lot that had an average rating of less than 3 stars even on Goodreads, so it's kinda a mixed bag.

    While I hate spoilers, a lower than 3.5 star average rating will make me hunt for those in the reviews. If things still sound bad then, I figure I dodged a bullet. If the reasons for low ratings are based on logic I can't reconcile and things actually still sound good, I buy/borrow the book knowing that I at least won't hate it.

    After all that's always my greatest worry: that I will end up hating a book I spent good money on. There aren't many avenues in my area to sell or trade the books I own, so I'm very careful in picking the books I buy. The only times I won't consult Goodreads are when books are marked down so much it would just mean skipping a cup of fro-yo or something.

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    1. Same here- 3.5 ratings or below and I have to search the reviews for reasons WHY the book isn't doing well. But yeah, that's my greatest worry too, that I'll waste my money on a junky book. So the smart thing is, if you're going to judge a book, get as much information on it as possible. Don't just rely on the little stars xD

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  6. I judge a book by its Goodreads rating and reviews a lot, to be honest. My parents rarely bought me book, so I always try to buy a book that I'll love. Everytime I went to bookstore, I always check their rating and reviews before buying the book (it became like some sort of habit of mine lol). If a book got 2 stars or below, there's a high chance that I won't buy it, though if I somehow got it for free, I will try to read it. Sometimes I feel bad about it, and I think author deserves their book not to be judged by Goodreads rating, but at the moment there's not much that I could do. Maybe someday when I have my own job, I'll stop judging book from its rating xD.

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    1. Yeah xD when money is tight you gotta make sure that book is worth it lol but judging a book by it's REVIEWS is a pretty good move ^_^ at least with reviews (not ratings) you get reasons as to why the book is good or bad.
      Thank you for your comment!

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  7. I believe I saw another post similar to this, but it was on numerical ratings. There were actually a couple times where I DIDN'T look at the Goodreads page, ended up buying the book, and then finding out how shitty the book is. Yet at the same time, there also moments where people hate a book and I love it. I often look at the reviews at a few bloggers whose opinions I really trust. And, when I'm really hesitant, I'll just check it out at the library!

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    1. Yeah I saw a post like that too after I wrote mine :) but yeah, I operate on a -ratings, reviews, and library method xD I very rarely buy a book I've not already read.

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  8. Actually, I *don't* judge books by their ratings. To me, numbered ratings are only good for finding who I have similar taste to. Other than that, I look to reviews rather than ratings because sometimes what one person hates might be what I love. I've actually downloaded books based on the negative ratings because of that exact scenario. Which is, you know, basically exactly what you said at the end of the post lol. I'm still cracking up at, "For the love of God just go get it from the library," though, haha.

    I just recently almost missed out on a 4.5 star book because I fell prey to the subjectivity! The reviews were all like, "The writing is so flowery and awful and hard to understand DON'T BUY THIS," and I was like, "Oh no! I don't want to buy a book if the writing is awful!" But then I remembered I like flowery writing lol. So yes. Your post is good advice :-)

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    1. That's a cool way to look at it- ratings providing insight to who has similar tastes. But yeah, you point out another golden nugget of truth- sometIMES REVIEWS CAN LEAD YOU ASTRAY TOO! I don't think there ever really could be a fool proof plan for accurately judging a book WITHOUT having read it haha :) I'm glad you found some good stuff in my post ^_^ AND THANK YOU FOR COMMENTING

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  9. This is an amazing post! And SO. ACCURATE. My hand was, in fact, raised. I have done it many times, actually. (Though to be honest, I usually find that if I had to look it up on Goodreads at all, I probably shouldn't be spending money I don't have on it, at least right then and there.)

    This is really thought provoking, because I DO agree with your points completely. But I also can see pros in all the cons, which makes it so weird of a situation. Like, I know you mentioned the pros for #1 and 2, but if you look at #3, the pro side is that sometimes those collective ratings CAN be a good thing, because it can prevent someone from buying a book from an author who writes hateful things, or I don't know, catfishes you and sends ARCs to your house ;) So I can see both sides of the coin, for sure.

    I think that you're right, you HAVE to trust your own opinion first and foremost. But I have to say, sometimes that pause to check Goodreads makes me remember why the book was never on my TBR to begin with ;)

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    1. I GET THAT CATFISH REFERENCE! (just read about it a few days ago) So yes you are completey right xD there are pros and cons to all three of these. Thank you so much for your comment ^_^ You always bring a new insight to the discussion that I hadn't thought of before. Love it!

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  10. I do judge a book by it's goodreads ratings but only if I'm asked to review it. If an author or publisher asks me to read a book, or if I see it on Netgalley or Edelweiss I check goodreads. If they have no reviews, I go with my gut feeling! There are times when I LOVE a book everyone seems to hate, it makes me sad, but not everyone can agree with me xD I don't really go to Goodreads while I'm at a store, but there have been a few times where I didn't but the book because of it's rating. If it's extremely low, then I get it from the library. Even when I don't like a book, I still try to get people to read it. Like you said, everyone's opinions are different and maybe someone will love something you didn't!

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    1. I really like that you encourage your readers to check out books even if you didn't like them :) I think it's great to present your opinion but let others have their own opinion as well.

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