Is Goodreads bad for your reading habits? | A discussion

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been thinking a lot about Goodreads lately.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I use Goodreads almost daily. I update what page I’m on after a reading session, and I also like to see what my friends are reading. Most notably however, I frequently find myself checking the yearly reading challenge to see where I’m at. Worst of all, I also find myself comparing it to how many books other people have read so far this year. And I hate that; I hate that that’s something I’ve started doing.

I don’t view my reading as a competition against others, so why do I feel that pull to compare myself??

Reading is fun, it’s how I relax and wind down. I can fully sink into a story and escape from the world for half an hour. However, comparing yourself to others isn’t exactly a conscious choice. It’s simply something that happens. This whole aspect of comparing hasn’t so much been detrimental to my reading, more to my mental health.

a stack of scattered open books.

The other day at work, we were having a discussion about how people like to document things nowadays. Whether that be what you’ve read, what you’ve watched, or how many times you’ve done something. And in all honesty …

I both love and hate the Goodreads challenge.

I love setting myself the target of 50 books, simply so that I consciously remind myself that I enjoy reading and I should stop scrolling through Twitter and pick up a book instead. But it’s a dangerously thin line between the challenge being a positive and helpful thing, and fully driving all your energy into completing the challenge and reading books for the sake of it, just so you can say ‘I won!

I don’t think it’s just books, either. It plays into everything we do – whether that be films, TV, or any type of media. I also record the films I watch on Letterboxd, but for some reason I don’t get that same feeling. I guess, as I only watch films every so often, this really is just so I can document them and look back on it. For others that are passionate however, this could easily be the exact same situation.

Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s not like I’m quitting the Goodreads challenge – I mean I have a whole page dedicated to it on my blog for god’s sake. But I’ve definitely been feeling the pressures from the community lately. Seeing people read lots of books in January can be demotivating if you haven’t read as many, and when you fully think about that, it’s just SO SILLY!

A woman in a Hufflepuff jumper struggling to hold an armful of books.

It’s definitely a product of my anxiety manifesting in negative thoughts which tell me “I’m not being a good enough blogger” or “I’m not a good enough reader because I’ve only read X books this year“.

However, a website or platform can only be what you make of it.

Like, Goodreads is a great and innovative platform that’s constantly evolving. You can have lots of virtual bookshelves, organise your books into categories, connect with other readers, have discussions, and set yourself challenges.

It’s not Goodreads that’s the problem; it’s how you use it.

It’s the societal pressures to always validate things you do with numbers. As a society, we love to be validated with a tick, a number, or with a “you’re 18% of the way to completing your challenge”. It makes us want to come back to the website and put in our next book. This is obviously great for the website, but is it great for the reader?

I just don’t know. If you couldn’t already tell, I’m very conflicted on this 😂

From here, I’m definitely going to be looking at the reading challenge a bit less. I want to use Goodreads in a way I enjoy, not in a way I feel pressured to.

As the saying goes, it’s quality not quantity, right?

What do you guys think about this? It’s such an interesting thing, and it’s definitely increased over recent years as we have changed how we consume media and document it on the internet.

Do you feel pressured to read a certain amount of books? Do you think that Goodreads is good for reading or bad? Do you enjoy Goodreads? I’d love to chat about it in the comments!

15 thoughts on “Is Goodreads bad for your reading habits? | A discussion

  1. It’s so interesting because, just yesterday, I was thinking about how the Goodreads challenge is holding me accountable and ensuring that I read more books in the year. I’m glad that you had this introspective time and are pursuing the things that are good for your mental and emotional health–that’s much easier said than done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A really well written post. I often wonder the point of joining in with the goal setting etc. I’m reading because I love it, not to reach a certain number. But I can’t help the satisfied feel when I hit mine, but I also always know it’s a number that I can easily hit anyway. So there’s always that!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh I’d never really thought of goodreads in a negative way before so thanks for this post! For me I don’t go on it that often and only really use it to update and track my reads; I rarely check the update feed or comment on posts anymore and this is partially due to my busyness but also just a lack of desire to. But I definitely see how goodreads could become a negative influence, and totally agree; it’s what you make of it which counts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s okay! It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Ah okay, that’s really interesting! It’s definitely an individual thing about how people use goodreads itself – I’m definitely going to be stepping back from the reading challenge aspect a little bit!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kelsey

    100% agree with you on this. I always do the goodreads challenge and I like to aim for 52 (a book a week) but last year I definitely found it affecting what I would pick up. This year I’ve gone for 30 so I still have a number to go for but I’m not so scared of picking up a hefty fantasy series.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 100% agree its how u use it. i set my goal much lower than i anticipate and well, ill finish it tonight if i m not lazy! its also the easiest way i can track owned books. tbh i rarely look at other peoples GRs, the idea oif comparing myself is too likely

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. I definitely understand this! I wrote a post on feeling pressured to read a while ago and I think counting the numbers and comparing yourself to others really came into that. But I also really like the challenge because it tells you what percentage you’re on and if you’re ahead or behind. I know, again, this plays into the pressure to read x amount of books, but for me it helps me stay organised and on track when I’m not doing so well, or it helps me calm down and take a step back if I can see that I am ahead.

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