My Experience with Not Using Goodreads for a Month

It will probably come as a surprise to no one that I, like many other people, find Goodreads rather frustrating. So, I’ve been searching for Goodreads alternatives for quite some time. I tried The StoryGraph back in late 2020, but despite originally liking the features that it offered, I never adapted to it well and continued to find it clunky to navigate and use; eventually, I stopped using it a few months into 2021.

It also annoyed me to be logging my books onto two different websites, as I was still using Goodreads. Since then, I hadn’t tried any other website, though I had done some research; I was never satisfied with any of the alternatives.

In August, I had the idea of using Notion (which I already use as a planner for virtually everything), for tracking my reading. I wasn’t originally sold on the idea, but then Goodreads permanently changed the page for viewing individual books, and while I do appreciate that things are finally changing, I really don’t like the new setup and don’t want to have to adapt to it.

I wanted something more tailored to my reading and the way I like to track it, which is why I switched to Notion. I didn’t like the number of features I found unnecessary on Goodreads, and the lack of flexibility to adjust said features. I also hate the clunky layout, I love simple white backgrounds and clean lines, so the aesthetics have been bothering me for a while.

I’m going to make a different post showing and discussing my Notion layout because I don’t want to make this excessively long. After having fully completed my Notion setup at the beginning of August, I decided to make an experiment of it and use only Notion for a month to see how I liked it. So, now that it’s been a month, I’m going to discuss my conclusions on it.


In all honesty, during this month-long experiment, there wasn’t much that I missed about it, and there was quite a lot that I liked about using Notion. I have a lot of thoughts, and I’m going to address my main ones about why I didn’t miss the website.


Reviews Skew My Opinions

While I don’t consider myself to be extremely influenceable on ratings, I do feel like the average rating on Goodreads and the top reviews that follow do have something of an effect on what one might think of a book. I think sometimes it makes me second guess myself (Emily @ Frappes and Fiction has a great post on this), and generally, I like to go into a book blind and just see for myself what I think.

I’ve found myself checking Goodreads ratings before checking out a book from the library or buying it, which is something I stopped doing over the last month, and I found that I really missed the time before I was using Goodreads and I read whatever book I found interesting, and I wasn’t impacted by others’ opinions.

I’ll be honest, I don’t find the reviews on Goodreads useful or accurate most of the time. It seems as though whenever a book is a new release there’s a high average rating and glowing ARC reviews, so it doesn’t feel accurate to me. I prefer reading reviews on blogs I choose to follow, usually, I’ll have similar reading tastes to them and enjoy their writing style. Even if I disagree about a book it’s still interesting to read, I prefer reading individual opinions rather than group ones.


I Like My System

This is maybe a very simple reason, but nevertheless, it’s very true. I found it practical and effective, and over the course of the month, I found that it provided me with everything I needed to track my reading. I really do believe that less is more in this instance.

I realized that I don’t check my past reads that often. I do like tracking them for reference, but I don’t need to see the cover, the publication year, etc as is on Goodreads. A lot of the information is simply unnecessary and I can live without it.


Information Can be Found Elsewhere

Normally, I get both the synopsis and the cover of books from Goodreads for reviews, this is the only thing that might come close to being an actual issue, but I found ways around it. Usually either Barnes and Noble or the book’s publisher’s site will have both, so I will take it from there.

Covers are very easy to find on Google images so I basically had no issue with that, synopses vary sometimes which is annoying but not a huge issue for me. These are the two main things that I used Goodreads for in connection to creating content, and it’s easy to find an alternative.


Discovering Books isn’t an Issue

Initially, I thought this might be my biggest issue, but I realized that it was not at all problem. I don’t know why I thought I discovered more books through Goodreads than I actually do. Most books I read I discover either through blogs, book newsletters (the NYTimes one is great for new releases, and the Wall Street Journal is great for nonfiction), or my library.

I’ve occasionally looked at the lists on Goodreads, but it’s not something that I do very often, and I don’t think I’ve gotten many recommendations from there over the years. I find that blogs are often the best for finding recommendations.


I Don’t Use the Social Aspect

I really hate how the Goodreads feed is set up. It feels impossible to actually see what others are reading, and it’s not properly set up and condensed. Over the course of my time on the site, I’ve virtually never used it because of that. Many (if not most) of the people I am friends with on Goodreads are bloggers, and oftentimes I follow their blogs as well. So I’ll end up seeing what they’re reading anyway, even without Goodreads.

I’m not friends with a lot of people (I think it’s less than a hundred), so this isn’t something that I consider to be a huge problem. I also never comment on reviews or updates, I would much rather do so on a blog, so I don’t think I’m missing out on anything.


Conclusion: Will I Go Back to Goodreads?

As of right now, I’m thinking probably not (which you might have guessed from the rest of the post). I don’t like having to log my reads on multiple platforms, and I don’t see a good reason to return to using it. I’ll probably leave my account the way it is, and simply not use it in the future.


Do you use Goodreads? Why or why not? What do you think of my thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments!

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19 Comments

  1. I loved reading this experiment; I haven’t used goodreads for 2 years (?) instead using storygraph for stats and notion for personal thoughts. I can definitely relate to your experience but one I never considered was the absense of goodreads rating and reviews. They can definitely impact my first impressions of books and you are right, it is freeing to no longer have that in many ways!
    Wonderful post and I’m glad your new set up is working for you! ❣️

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    1. Thank you! You have an interesting system, I do think that Notion is practical. It’s funny that so many people have the same experience with having their thoughts on books influenced by Goodreads. It is nicer to go in blind, I agree.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t like the way GR looks, but somehow I find the new version even less appealing. And I don’t like how if I star a book, I have to go in and then “write a review” to set the dates to make sure it shows up on my feed/counts toward the challenge. It’s extra steps that don’t make sense. Why not bring up the review window when I click the stars?

    I also think they ought to work on fixing their search algorithm before anything else. The site is notorious for not pulling up the right book, and that’s the most basic part of what I want from a site that features books for me to look up!

    I do wish an alternative to GR would come along, but none of the new ones seem to catch on and it’s no fun for me to join a site where I won’t have the same friends to follow and I might have to manually put in a thousand books that I’ve already read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, the setup of the website makes no sense, it’s like they threw logic out the window and decided to make it unnecessarily complicated when they were designing the site. I’m still surprised that the search algorithm hasn’t been adjusted, I thought when they started having the new book pages they would fix that too.

      I understand what you mean about the GR alternatives, the Storygraph is the only one that has (kind of) caught on, and even still it’s not nearly as widely used. I think the issue is that everyone is used to GR, and the site (while not great), is mostly useable, so there’s not much initiative to move.

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    1. Transferring my content was honestly the most complicated part. If you request your data from Goodreads it does take some time before you get it, and I would not recommend doing it all by hand, it takes forever!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t use Goodreads as much as I used to and honestly, I don’t miss it. I still use it to log what I’m currently reading, but even then I prefer using my reading journal to log books and I’m more likely to go to a book’s Waterstones page to check for a synopsis or publication date when I’m planning and writing posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, I don’t miss it either. I think it’s better to have your own custom way of tracking, like what you said with the reading journal. In some ways it’s easier when it’s personalized.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have checked out some of those alternate sites, but I have been on Goodreads for so many years at this point. I like that it attracts casual as well as power readers too. I used to be more social and do wish it had a comment/reply system modeled after every other social platform, but am just not as social as I was in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true that Goodreads does seem to attract a wide variety of readers. It would make a lot more sense if it had a regular social media-style system, and I think it would make it more popular as well!

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