It’s not me, Goodreads. It’s you.
When I first discovered Goodreads in April 2012, I was ecstatic: I’m not only a book nerd, I’m also a data nerd and this website was combining those two things. I could keep track of what I read, talk to other readers and find new recommendations. Sounds pretty good, right?
But I decided to delete it, after four years of religiously using it. Here’s why:
Justifying my reading habits
For most of my life, I have been a fast reader, reading one to three books a week. But in 2014, that changed. Uni got busier, I had a job and an internship, there was a lot to do and a lot to plan. Reading (and my other hobbies) were something I started doing less, which is more than normal in the world we live in. I know this is more in my head than anything else, but when I was not reading as much as others, or as much as I wanted to read (damn you, yearly reading challenge). I felt like I had to justify my behaviour. Goodreads encourages list-making, which is probably why most readers like it so much: seeing your accomplishments grow and grow. I personally like to focus more on the quality of books that I read than the quantity, but the site doesn’t have a good way of displaying that.
This one is actually a bigger problem for me than having to justify my reading behaviour. Because really, if I did not want to justify myself, I could put everything on private and have no friends added to my account. Problem solved. It does’t work that way when you are harassed by authors and publicists, though. And yes, that happens. Multiple times authors of self-published books and so-called ‘publicists’ of authors have messaged me after I left a 1 to 3 star review with the question if I could ‘reconsider.’ No. I’m not reconsidering, dangit. You can be passive aggressive all you want, but no. It almost became a weekly task for me to block people. I have also reported some of the comments, but have always felt like that didn’t do much.
Then in 2014, the Kathleen Hale controversy happened. In a nutshell, Hale stalked a GR user that left a couple of negative status updates (not even a review) on one of her books. Hale wasn’t having it and ended up driving to her house. No, no. Eff that. I’m not lying when I say that disturbed me a bit, and I started being more careful after that. And with that, less raw and honest in my reviews.
Part of why I loved Goodreads so much when I first made an account, was because as a reader and a female, I felt like it was a safe social media website. Now, the more often I scroll through the comments of a review or look in my own inbox, I see passive aggressive comments, straight-up harassment and sometimes even violent threats. I’ve had enough, and finally deleted my account. I will post book reviews on my blog from now on.
Sorry Goodreads, but you’re not for me anymore.