Submitted by Proper_Cold_6939 t3_zq01uh in books

Bonus points if there are reviews calling it 'pretentious' sassily claiming how they're the only ones who can see the emperor's new clothes.

'Life's too short, did not finish' followed by a collection of gifs. That sort of thing.

Has anyone else noticed this trend? It's usually around the 3.4 to 3.6 range. Also, if the book's regarded as a classic, but has some 'experimental' elements. Anything that deviates from the norm seems to get similar reviews.

Anyway, I just felt that was a good identifier I've noticed when looking up books. Has anyone noticed any others?



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TheRawToast t1_j0vtn7t wrote

There's a selection bias of who reads and reviews books. For instance, Classics are read by a diverse group, including plenty who are reading a book in a style / genre/ etc. that they don't normally enjoy. This is going to cause a lower rating.

Its similar reason why sequels are often rated so high, especially in an area like epic fantasy. The only people who read the second book really like the first. This makes it easier for a sequel rating bump.

That said, I don't think I believe your rating system is some pro-tip, but rather a byproduct of your own preferences. There's plenty of people that can come to a completely different answer.


jenh6 t1_j0whl9a wrote

I also notice with horror the ratings are really divisive. Lots of 5 stars and 1 stars.


SlouchyGuy t1_j0wbf3c wrote

Which is why when sequels have the same rating as the first books, it means that series is getting worse and worse


Frosty_Mess_2265 t1_j0wkg8u wrote

Interestingly, I noticed the Hannibal Lecter trilogy gets lower ratings from books 1-3. I think it's not because they're worse, but because they're more disturbing (which is obviously what Harris was going for). I remember finishing the last one and just thinking I'll never be able to unread that...


That-Requirement-285 t1_j0xrhle wrote

Generally it’s because the last books are much more over-the-top than the first two. Specifically Hannibal. The film also got a mixed reaction because of how ‘ridiculous’ it was + Clarice hooking up with Hannibal seemed to go against her character.


laconicflow t1_j0yc2fk wrote

I think the point is that Hannibal wins.


That-Requirement-285 t1_j0yc9gl wrote

No kidding but it felt like it was written by shippers.

I genuinely liked the last two books, and think Hannibal Rising got the worst reputation, but they’re not as good as the first two.


laconicflow t1_j0yhqvs wrote

I never read Hannibal Rising, just the other three, all of which I liked equally. the twist at the end of Hannibal was not something I soming one bit, I took it to mean he'd won, he's a bad guy and he won by brainwashing clarice, it wasn't that she'd always been in love with him.

Just my thought. Is Hannibal rising worth checking out?


That-Requirement-285 t1_j0yjrds wrote

It’s a Hannibal backstory that I think the author wrote mostly because he feared that somebody else would write it. It’s not as well-written as Red Dragon or Silence of the Lambs, but I think it tied in nicely.


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0vzmk3 wrote

Yeah, I know. I was being a bit facetious with the title. Generally that's the rule I've personally found though, but others can work with their own personal tastes. I've just found a lot of the more 'out there' titles range around this area, and the same can go for Rotten Tomatoes. It's only to be expected when something's taking a risk creatively, in that it's not going to be for everyone and the scoring will reflect that. I mean, I don't always automatically like the creatively risky books myself.

But I agree about selection bias. Certain titles are going to be found by certain audiences, sequels especially so.


risingsuncoc t1_j0x5r6n wrote

>Its similar reason why sequels are often rated so high, especially in an area like epic fantasy. The only people who read the second book really like the first. This makes it easier for a sequel rating bump.

I kind of figured this out a while back too. Goodreads ratings and reviews are best used as just a guide


bikes_and_music t1_j1595dv wrote

> Its similar reason why sequels are often rated so high, especially in an area like epic fantasy. The only people who read the second book really like the first. This makes it easier for a sequel rating bump.

Hah I noped out of beginning a couple of series when I saw that sequels didn't have a rating bump.


_gothicghost_ t1_j0wki49 wrote

Oh my gosh yes! I’ve said the exact same thing to my boyfriend recently. I think 3.4-3.6 range is especially relevant for contemporary lit fic. If it’s a challenging literary novel with anything remotely unusual about it (even if the concept is hooky) it will likely fall in this range. I tend to enjoy or even love the types of books that get rated 3.4-3.6, so it’s really helpful for me. And the word “pretentious” now piques my interest rather than dissuading me!

In the last year, most of the contemporary lit fic that I’ve rated 4-5 stars has fallen in this range. Ex: White Is For Witching by Oyeyemi, Grendel by Gardner, The Tiger’s Wife by Obreht, Sisters by Johnson, and the list goes on. IMO, all of them are much better than a 3.5, but I’ve read genuinely baffling reviews explaining why people didn’t like them.


SoothingDisarray t1_j0zl6on wrote

I'm surprised by how often the 1 star reviews are what convince me to read a book. "There was no action in this boring piece of crap! It was all just people talking about philosophy while exploring an underwater civilization. Where were the sea monsters and romance? It felt like reading the terrible [BOOK I LOVE] all over again."

One funny thing I find is that when I write a 3 star review I often say something like "I really liked X part of this book, but didn't like Y, I wish it had been more of X," and all the other reviews are saying "I really liked Y part of this book, but didn't like X, I wish it had been more of Y."


DespoticBunny t1_j0znlzw wrote

Re: your second paragraph; that's exactly how I write my reviews. I try to keep emotion out of it. Sounds like you have the right idea all around


SoothingDisarray t1_j0zucnp wrote

Ha, I can't promise to leave all emotion on the cutting room floor! :)

But, yes, I tend to be very analytical when I review a book so we are aligned. Often I leave any "I liked this book" statement for the end. Whether "I liked" a book or not is only partially connected to the assessment of key themes, how the book was structured, what I felt worked or did not work, and how the book fits into the context of other books in its genre/space.

I guess what it comes down to for me is that my emotional response to the book is tied to my analytical response to a book. So I hesitate to say that the analytical review isn't actually emotional, even though that makes me sound like a robot. It's also probably why I often find what I like about a book is the opposite of what the majority of people liked.


Flash1987 t1_j0zxaoo wrote

Does this first book exist...?


SoothingDisarray t1_j0zyx9f wrote

Ha, no. I was just making something random up.

Here's a real-world example: I enjoyed Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots, which is a parody of the superhero genre where the lead character takes an actuarial science* approach to challenging superheroes. My review was that I liked the book but thought it could use a little less action and spend more time on the satirical mathematical analysis of superheroes.

"More math" was not the general take from the other reviews.

* In the book it's framed as accounting rather than actuarial, but it's clearly insurance math.**

** And that footnote gives you a good idea what my reviews are like.


txc_vertigo t1_j0vqrcy wrote

I do see the trend you are talking about.

Some other examples include:

  • Moby Dick
  • Nightwood
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • The Crying of Lot 49

Too popular not to be read by readers who might not be in for the challenge that these slightly more experimental (for the time) novels present.


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0vrz18 wrote

Moby Dick I noticed being 3.53 too. That one's weird, because the 'classics' people were forced to read in school usually seem to range between 3.6 to 3.9 (Catcher's currently about 3.81). People must really not be into fishing.


Trick-Two497 t1_j0vs8g3 wrote

Maybe the discussion of the skin on a whale penis is what keeps it out of high school classrooms.


Error8 t1_j0vu2d1 wrote

Here I was thinking it was the gay marriage at the beginning.

Edit: For the haters who are downvoting me - I was making a bit of a joke, but it's a joke based on the text of the book. From chapter 10:

"If there yet lurked any ice of indifference towards me in the Pagan's breast, this pleasant, genial smoke we had, soon thawed it out, and left us cronies. He seemed to take to me quite as naturally and unbiddenly as I to him; and when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning, in his country's phrase, that we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if need should be. In a countryman, this sudden flame of friendship would have seemed far too premature, a thing to be much distrusted; but in this simple savage those old rules would not apply."


Trick-Two497 t1_j0vx7d1 wrote

If there was a gay marriage, I missed it, but I did not miss the discussion of whale penis skin.


Error8 t1_j0w1e6z wrote

I was making a bit of a joke, but it's in chapter 10.

"If there yet lurked any ice of indifference towards me in the Pagan's breast, this pleasant, genial smoke we had, soon thawed it out, and left us cronies. He seemed to take to me quite as naturally and unbiddenly as I to him; and when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning, in his country's phrase, that we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if need should be. In a countryman, this sudden flame of friendship would have seemed far too premature, a thing to be much distrusted; but in this simple savage those old rules would not apply."


Trick-Two497 t1_j0w2l93 wrote

Yeah, the author explains in this passage exactly what is means, and it doesn't mean marriage as a New Englander would mean marriage.


Error8 t1_j0w43l5 wrote

Hence the joke.

I only meant to take a lighthearted jab at our modern American conservative school boards threatening to remove all literature that even hints at homoeroticism. I understand Melville was making something of a joke of it himself, but the scene is undeniably homoerotic, and those are Queequeg's words.


BruceChameleon t1_j0xfl94 wrote

Melville had a penchant for it. His letters to Hawthorne read very romantically now.


Error8 t1_j0xr6pm wrote

We really lost a lot of male emotional connectivity in the last century. It's tragic how many men have grown lonely and then bitter in our atomized society.


Trick-Two497 t1_j0w67n1 wrote

I'm just explaining why I didn't remember there being a gay marriage in the book.


AtraMikaDelia t1_j0w13mv wrote

There's some discussion of two characters who are friends, and one of them describes it as being similiar to being married. I forget the exact wording.

If you want to read into it, then it sounds like they are gay. If you don't, then it just sounds like they are good friends.


Error8 t1_j0w65lh wrote

The wording isn't similar, it is exact. Queequeg tells Ishmael that they are married while their foreheads are pressed together and Queequeg holds him. That said, Ishmael doesn't interpret the act as a western-style marriage and Queequeg doesn't mean it as one.

Queequeg is Polynesian; it's known that historically Polynesians had intimate partners of the same sex. The Maori word Takatapui was employed for such companions. Obviously, the idea of gayness as it is understood now cannot really be applied to people of that era and cultural context, but I think it's fair to say that it was a little gay.

Here's the exact wording, from chapter 10:

"If there yet lurked any ice of indifference towards me in the Pagan's breast, this pleasant, genial smoke we had, soon thawed it out, and left us cronies. He seemed to take to me quite as naturally and unbiddenly as I to him; and when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning, in his country's phrase, that we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if need should be. In a countryman, this sudden flame of friendship would have seemed far too premature, a thing to be much distrusted; but in this simple savage those old rules would not apply."


SufficientStudy5178 t1_j0wmxia wrote

Every culture historically, and currently, has/had members who 'had intimate partners of the same sex'?


That-Requirement-285 t1_j0xse1x wrote

They mean that the attitudes of specific Polynesian cultures towards homosexuality was less prejudiced and repressive.


Trick-Two497 t1_j0w2cot wrote

People weren't as homophobic back then as they are now, so they talked that way without feeling like anyone would judge them as being gay. I believe they're just saying they are close confidants, not gay.


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0vsca0 wrote

lol, probably. But you also see a lot of people arriving at these books from '1001' type lists, and it not being what they expect.


Jack_Harmony t1_j0wzxf1 wrote

Imho it’s could be the effect of “Fiinee… but only because I have to”. People start the book because they feel it’s an obligation being a classic and all and might just not be what they’re looking for.


conspicuousperson t1_j0wyo5b wrote

Moby Dick is one of my favorite books, but it is not an easy read. It's written in a style that is evocative of Shakespeare.


buttered_jesus t1_j0xbsr4 wrote

Currently making my way through Moby Dick on audio. I'm thoroughly enjoying it and glad I'm taking the ride but I definitely understand it not being for everyone. Large portions of it feel like you're reading a 48-post Twitter thread.


lydiardbell t1_j123vf9 wrote


Oh, I could squeeze that sperm forever! #whalefacts 47/?

♥️ 100 🔁 12 💬 12K


That-Requirement-285 t1_j0xpyb3 wrote

Love Moby Dick but I think the amount of whale facts (half of which turned out to be not very accurate) may have turned people off.


pretenditscherrylube t1_j0wnw6m wrote

Any mainstream work of fiction by a trans person or any work that includes an prominent abortion also get weird ratings because of political reviewing.


SufficientStudy5178 t1_j0vx7xa wrote

I honestly dgaf what Goodreads has to say about anything tbqh.


Error8 t1_j0w6x2o wrote

I've only ever gotten on there to laugh at the reviewers. The site had potential, but is unfortunately dominated by human garbage.


ErisEpicene t1_j0xgr4r wrote

To me, the value in Goodreads is how thoroughly categorized, tagged, and complete their catalogue is. I've used it more than once to find books that I used to own but never read based on the most miniscule details. All I remembered about The Innamorati was that it had a maze and a cool cover. Goodreads has an enormous list of books with hedge mazes and labyrinths! I found it with some casual browsing while watching reruns.


sincereNope t1_j0x5t95 wrote

I love reading the 1 star reviews. 9 times out of 10 they're what sell the book for me. Especially if it's a garbo fantasy book.


That-Requirement-285 t1_j0xqkh6 wrote

The reviews for really ridiculous romance books are generally good. VC Andrews reviews are also hilarious.


StarblindCelestial t1_j0wsvil wrote

When a 5 star system has like 95% of books between 3.5 and 4.5 I think it's safe to completely disregard them. If you hover over the stars it tells you what they are supposed to mean.

5: it was amazing

4: really liked it

3: liked it

2: it was ok

1: did not like it

Except nobody uses them like that. If you look at the distribution of ratings you'll see 1 and 2 stars are almost never used. So it becomes:

5: liked/really liked it

4: it was ok

3: did not like it

Netflix took a lot of flak when they replaced ratings with thumbs up and thumbs down, but I can see why they did it. If people are going to turn it into binary anyway, just give them binary. It's much less misleading that way.

I still rate things, but I do it to remind myself what I thought of it, not to influence others or give the author a pat on the back. That's why I'll read a full series despite rating them all 3 stars with some 2s and 4s. Others who use the 3-5 method probably see my 3 star and think "if it's bad why do you keep reading it?", but 3 stars actually means I liked it. It's just probably not something I would reread or recommend unless I know it caters to someones tastes.

With the huge advancements in AI I think it would be cool to rethink the way we rate things. Instead of clicking a star/number there could be a text box that you type in a sentence or two and the AI translates that into a star/number that gets displayed. So like "It was enjoyable, I'll probably read the sequel." would give 3 stars.


jefrye t1_j0wxpwu wrote

>If you look at the distribution of ratings you'll see 1 and 2 stars are almost never used.

That's because most people read books they expect they'll at least like, and the traditional publishing process does a relatively good job of filtering out the really unreadable stuff.

I can guarantee you that if people picked books at random then the ratings distribution would look a lot different.


StarblindCelestial t1_j0xic3y wrote

>That's because most people read books they expect they'll at least like

While that does account for some of it, it doesn't make anything I said invalid. 2 star is supposed to be "it was ok" which is an opinion that should happen relatively often, even when you're reading in your preferred genera. Instead of rating it as such, many people give it a 3 or even a 4 because they think 2 stars is too harsh. 2 stars is only 1 higher than the lowest option, which they would only give to the worst books. But it is also only 1 below average and a perfectly reasonable rating for something that was a near miss for you.

>the traditional publishing process does a relatively good job of filtering out the really unreadable stuff

Indie publishing doesn't filter it out, but putting that aside this is why people should use 1 and 2 stars more often. I think they reserve them for if they were rating incoherent garbage, but that just shrinks the scale we can use. Those should be an outlier because including them in the data set messes everything up. A 2 star rating seems like a slap in the face only because it's so skewed by the fact that we've practically made 3.5 stars the new 1.5 stars.

I don't use 1 or 2 stars very often, but if you look at the reviews for even controversial books they often only add up to a single digit percentage of the total reviews. Often a low one.

For example I know a decent amount of people dislike The Name of the Wind for various reasons, but it has 3% 1s and 2s. If we add the 6% of 3s I can see that 9% as a reasonable amount of people who disliked it or thought the story wasn't for them.

The Wheel of Time also gets its fair share of haters for the way he writes women, yet The Eye of the World has 5%. A bit more reasonable, but it still seems low.

A Game of Thrones has 3%. It's a great book, but I would expect more than 3% to be put off by the grim dark a bit. Enough to say it's good, but not really for them. Which is exactly what 2 star or "it was ok" is supposed to be.

It's even more concerning when you factor in that a good portion of those 1%-2% of 1 stars DNF. So like 98.5%-99.5% of people who finished the book (not any specific for this part) thought it was at least ok. Somehow I don't believe that.


jefrye t1_j0xn6aq wrote

>2 star is supposed to be "it was ok" which is an opinion that should happen relatively often,

I'm not so sure. That 3-star midpoint of "I liked it" is generally the minimum expectation people have when going into a book, because who picks up a book they think they won't even like? And, more so, who keeps reading a book when they've realized it's falling short of their expectations?

>I know a decent amount of people dislike The Name of the Wind for various reasons,

I think this really highlights why the rating distribution seems to skew unnaturally high: books are long and complex, and readers can easily have very specific problems with a book while still having an overall 3-star experience because they're rating the entirety of the book.

Personally, I almost never give out 1-star reviews because it's unusual that I finish a book I actively dislike. 2 stars is typically my lowest, because even if I don't like a book, there usually has to be something interesting about it to keep me reading. And then I'm happy to give 3 stars to any book I liked overall, even if it's not something I'm super enthusiastic about.


StarblindCelestial t1_j0xsa87 wrote

If you've never or very rarely picked up a book you think you'll like only to be disappointed you're very lucky indeed. As for continuing a book that is falling short, I'd say it's quite common for many reasons. Bought it and don't want to feel as if it was a waste of money, nothing else to read, everyone else loves it so there must be something in it somewhere that you'll eventually like, discussion/book club/education purposes, a single compelling plot point hiding amongst the drivel, interesting structure/literary technique that you want to see how it's used despite not liking the story, sunk cost fallacy and an aversion to DNF off the top of my head.

All that about ratings may sound reasonable at surface level, and it's how most people use rating systems, but don't you see how it lowers the range of ratings thus making them less useful? If you don't like a book you give it a 2star, but 1star was literally made for books you don't like. It isn't for books that are an affront to humanity that shouldn't have been published. And while you only cut off 1star it should be easy to see how others cut off 2star as well in the same way making it even worse. If everyone decides for themself what the star means for them personally instead of using the defined meanings they become useless. This post for example uses 3.5 star as an example for a terribly rated book that most people would avoid, whereas to me there's absolutely nothing wrong with a 3.5. That's almost 4 which is a very good score.

I think it boils down to many if not most people thinking 1star means it was a bad book so they don't use it. That's not what it means. It just means you didn't like it and there's nothing wrong with that.


jefrye t1_j0xtt1o wrote

>If you don't like a book you give it a 2star, but 1star was literally made for books you don't like.

I think this is actually the crux of the issue: 1 star is for books you dislike. Dislike is an active negative feeling, not simply the lack of a positive feeling.

2 stars is for books that are "okay" and fall in that gray are between "dislike" and "like."


nolard12 t1_j0yquv9 wrote

I use the Goodreads rating system in the first way you described. I’ve rated some 1500 books with something close to a standard distribution bell curve. My ratings average 3.3 or 3.4, but Ive only given 62 5-Star ratings. So many of my friends give 5’s to everything they read! Perhaps, I’m pickier than them or at least I have more critique for books than they seem to have.


faoltiama t1_j0zmqtw wrote

I think my personal rating system goes something like this:

5: Loved it, will rave about it to everyone

4: Like it!

3: It was okay

2: Actively disliked it

1: This is truly hot garbage, will rant about it to everyone

My system tends to default at a 4 if I am happy but not blown away by it. 5's are rare, 3's are a bit meh. So yeah, it's a little skewed positive. This is just for books, movies, craft patterns, mass produced items. If it's a little Etsy business or something my rating system skews heavily positive because I don't want to tank their ratings if they met expectations.


kmmontandon t1_j0wltcf wrote

I’m amazed anyone uses that site for reviews and ratings. It’s about as reliable for that as Amazon.


Just-Ad6865 t1_j0x8cu7 wrote

It’s not that difficult. You just need to look at some books you loved and hated, and find reviewers who loved/hated those books for the same reasons you did. Then follow those people and see what they enjoy. There’s your curated list of books to at least look into.

You are certainly correct that just reading random popular reviews every time will probably get you nowhere.


LokeshC2 t1_j0yis3a wrote

Doesn't that kill experimentation though?


Fast-Chest-3976 t1_j0wom14 wrote

To be fair I’ve read a number of books that I’ve seen on good reads that have been rated 4+ and they have been good but I never actually read the reviews. A lot of them are so cringey or exaggerated and I feel like it could’ve done a lot better if there were more spaces for people to actually talk about the book as all the comments I’ve seen under reviews are like ‘good review’ or ‘can’t wait for your next review’ like I wanna go to a website where I can discuss what actually happened in the book and see other peoples opinions, not a reviewer getting praise for reading the same book as 20k other people


jefrye t1_j0wx6b7 wrote

Amazon reviews are completely unreliable because they're often reviewing the physical product and the service they received and not the content of the book. Plus each edition etc. of a book has its own page.

Goodreads is the gold standard imo for measuring whether a book lives up to reader expectations, and that can be very helpful. (The exception is for classics assigned in school because the readership is no longer self-selecting.)


el0011101000101001 t1_j0z89yg wrote

It can be a good gauge though. Like if something has 500,000+ reviews and is at around 4.25, then there's a good chance it's a terrible book haha.

Some books with commercial success just aren't great but appeal to a wide range of readers.


strawberryc0w_ t1_j0wikyr wrote

I've long stopped using Goodreads ratings as an useful quality metric. The higher scores are given to whatever book is trending on TikTok, and Colleen Hoover has a higher rating than all the classics lol


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0wjwtb wrote

Yeah, I've just learned to apply ratings to the book's background its the target audience. If a book's big on TikTok then it's going to have a high-rating regardless of actual quality. If a book is of a certain genre that's enjoyed by a particular demographic, but it subverts expectations, it's more likely to hit the 3.5.

For example, I saw readers complaining about the book 'Woman, Eating' by Claire Kohda, which I was pretty interested in as it had good reviews elsewhere (which is usually a good balance to work with). It's a subversion of vampire novel, so I went to Goodreads and checked it out. Sure enough there were plenty of YA and horror fans with goth avis complaining about it for being too arty (with the 3.5). So I immediately got it and wasn't disappointed lol.


deltaretrovirus t1_j107kw8 wrote

I Love to read the bad reviews of those hyped up booktok books because I found a lot of them absolutely bad and boring, starting with acotar. But the reviews are hilarious. The best ones I found on twilight, so accurate


kw416 t1_j0w10jd wrote

Someone I met recently gave me several authors to read, after we both mentioned reading Tove Ditlevsen’s Childhood / Youth / Dependency. Every single author is in that 3.5ish range. So now I’m even more curious and will go into each book without reading any professional reviews and see how I actually feel.

I am noticing the same trend, maybe a certain subset of books that don’t hold your hand are getting trashed unfairly.

Also came across a profile that had left reviews while reading over a book a day in 2022 and that is just not possible. So maybe something weird is going on.


Fluffyknickers t1_j0wmel9 wrote

What did you think of Tove Ditlevsen? I read her short story collection this year, and it was very good, if a bit depressing.


kw416 t1_j0wtu04 wrote

I really enjoyed Childhood / Youth / Dependency, and am eager to read more of her translated work.


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0w1vcu wrote

I've noticed it's often authors that have a reputation behind them. So books like Ulysses/Finnegans Wake are classic examples from Joyce. If a new book is getting recognition for 'bucking trends' and being a little different, you'll get the naysayers pop in with their review and rating too.


jenh6 t1_j0whumq wrote

Were they reading children’s/middlegrade books or graphic novels. If I was only reading those I could probably do a book a day.


mochul t1_j0x3ore wrote

I've found that goodreads is excellent as a system for finding new books, especially lesser known ones, and had a pretty impressive collections and tagging system. However their ratings...


__someone_else t1_j0w2o91 wrote

That's always been my experience. We probably have similar taste in books.

Low-effort/silly reviews in general usually are a sign that I should disregard the reviewer's opinion. I don't see many serious reviewers use gifs.


ChaserNeverRests t1_j0wcwlb wrote

Yep. If a review has gifs in it, I skip it because clearly that reviewer and I like very different things.


Ginjisan t1_j0ya9z8 wrote

protip: only use goodreads for the stats/cataloging not the reviews


kyler_ t1_j0vjkys wrote

This doesn’t bring anything to mind, do you have any examples?


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0vkinr wrote

I was just looking at Naked Lunch by William Burroughs on there, and that's currently 3.46. Obviously it remains a contentious book (and for good reason), but it's a clear example. I can try and find some more, but it's something I notice often whenever I go on there.


Outside-Associate-46 t1_j0vznvn wrote

The discomfort of evening has a 3.5 rating on goodreads. I loved it but it's got so many 1 star reviews by outraged people


That-Requirement-285 t1_j0xs2jx wrote

I understand why it was disliked. For me it had WAY too much talk about constipation.


Outside-Associate-46 t1_j0xvj0w wrote

Her dad pressing the pieces of soap up her ass was a very disturbing read. But the constipation I feel was a metaphor/manifestation of her families inability to deal with her brothers death. They are all constipated and unable to move on or to properly process his death


That-Requirement-285 t1_j0ybz58 wrote

I understand the symbolism, it’s just really gross. When somebody goes in depth about something like that constantly, it’s not hard to understand why audiences will come out having negative thoughts.


Jenniferinfl t1_j0vr1s5 wrote

Anything rated 3 or above I read the negative reviews and generally it's political bias that is the source of the negative reviews, particularly 1 star reviews.

Below 3 it is generally bad, but yeah, 3.5 can be decent just divisive.


JamJamsAndBeddyBye t1_j0wpc0k wrote

I don’t pay any mind to 5 star ratings on Goodreads. I feel like 2-4 stars will give you the best idea if the book is worth reading. 1 star reviews always seem super hyperbolic to me.


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0wpshm wrote

I read a 1 star review of Moby Dick just now (after heading there from this thread) and there was a 1 star saying 'beautifully written but incredibly boring.' Like seriously? The fact you liked its prose at the base level isn't worth more than a single star?


TeddyWolf t1_j0yc7le wrote

To be fair, 1 say according to goodreads means "I didn't like it", whereas 2 stars already means "It was ok"

Maybe the person didn't like the prose enough that they would consider the whole book as ok.


womanonhighhorse t1_j0xcd8m wrote

I think the rating system on Goodreads is reflective more of the readers’ experience of the book rather than their opinion on the book’s quality. I admit I rate the books I read based on how I felt while reading the book and after. So it won’t really say much about whether I find the book well-written, well-paced, etc.

On the other hand, some reviews are very helpful and I would use them to determine if I will check a book out.


WabbieSabbie t1_j0y2bwm wrote

I never trust Goodreads on books that have been translated to English, especially Japanese ones. Some reviewers don't even take into consideration that certain nuances are changed by translation. Some of them even forget that the whole thing wasn't even written in English but their reviews would reflect it that way.


no-caster t1_j0yi4uf wrote

Recent example of this: trust exercise by Susan Choi. 3.14 on Goodreads. Didn’t notice that until after I bought it. Read it anyway. Highly experimental and ambiguous but in such a through provoking and well executed way. I loved it. 5/5 stars for me.


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0yj1wr wrote

Thanks, I'll check that out. I was just reading a positive review on that and thinking 'this review's pretty good actually,' then half-way through it cuts to a link for the Washington Post. That's pretty telling...


Artemisa23 t1_j0ysjij wrote

When I read the original post, I immediately thought of the same book. I read it 2 years ago and loved it, but so many people hated it and it has one of the lowest averages of any book I've read. I also gave it 5 stars and I rarely do.


jrt364 t1_j0w3rzw wrote

idk. I just find books that sound interesting and then read the negative reviews regardless of the rating/score. I think a book is worth reading if you disagree with the negative reviews or you don't care about the criticisms.

Example: Someone may say that a book is "bad" because "it has too many girls" or "it has coffee in it." Obviously, those are ridiculous reasons, but people DO criticize books for dumb things like that all the time. On the other hand, you do tend to find lots of biases and valid criticisms in the negative reviews. Most positive reviews (unfortunately) talk about how they liked the book, but not WHY they liked the book.


GoingToZero t1_j0wbucp wrote

I am new to Goodreads and this is really useful, thanks for the tip :)


lsanborn t1_j0xf2f7 wrote

Personally I don’t want to read book reviews by anyone who isn’t literate enough to use words.


DoopFoopHoop t1_j0vwwrk wrote

Basically any Cormac McCarthy book. Ignoring the lack of punctuation (which i love) a lot of people just have a vendetta with his style.

Edit: same with movies. I hate rotten tomatoes, but usually anything with a critics score of 50% to 60% and an audience score more below that, chances are its the most interesting movie of the year.


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0vzjov wrote

Yeah, I generally use this system for films as well. Unless it's made to make money, many of the more 'creative' films on Rotten Tomatoes that range through the the 50s and 60s seem to be interesting.


Frosty_Mess_2265 t1_j0wkmrp wrote

Ooooo Cormac McCarthy is excellent. So far I've read blood meridian, all the pretty horses and the road.


DoopFoopHoop t1_j0wm83h wrote

Out of all of those, All The Pretty Horses is my favorite. His prose is so beautiful and haunting.


BookishBitching t1_j0wvfdk wrote

Agreed tbh. I'd rather read a book that makes me thing and challenges me, even if I wind up hating it haha


dogsonbubnutt t1_j0x8fcg wrote

goodreads ratings are fine if you go into it knowing that most people on the site don't use the ratings to measure of the quality of a book, they use it to measure whether or not the book met their expectations as the reader.

i've seen lots of classic, otherwise excellent books downvoted and given one star simply because it was about something other than what the reader thought it'd be about. i'm reading "sandy hook" by elizabeth williamson, for instance, and in the forward she specifically says that this is a book about conspiracy theory propagation and NOT about gun rights, or adam lanza, or a detailed breakdown of the shooting and people will STILL give it one or two stars entirely because the book doesn't discuss those topics.

i think there's a lot of people on goodreads who think that books only exist to cater to their specific tastes. it makes ratings weird, but if you know that going in i think that said ratings can still be valuable. just pay attention to what people are saying in their reviews.


indykym t1_j10cwn1 wrote

My GR legend is

1 star - hated it because it seems to be an outline rather than a finished work. These are almost always self published. Probably DNF’d. I will generally give cliffhangers 1 star because I hate them and the author who wrote them.

2 stars - wonderful concept but looks like Mom read it and author took her gushing approval as a good substitute for an editor. I might finish it.

3 stars - good book, I enjoyed it. I’ll recommend it based on what else the person likes. I rarely (but not never) read again. It’s average. I do wish people would stop thinking a 3 star book is bad. They will miss a lot of fun reads

4 stars - really good with very few, if any grammar/usage/spelling mistakes. You can tell an editor was involved. Will recommend if “I’m looking for a book like…” comes up in conversation.

5 stars - fantastic story with an original (or at least not overused) premise. Has excellent world building, well developed characters, only a few typos if any. Language that will make you weep with its beauty. Makes you think. I will insistently recommend whether or not I’m asked.

For me, every book, before I open it, starts at 5 stars. It’s only as I read that the rating changes.

I mostly read genre fiction and memoirs. Sometimes I’ll read literary fiction, but many end up being 3 stars.


nat8199 t1_j0wfrr3 wrote

This has made me think I am too quick to make decisions based on goodreads ratings. Thank you.


No-Freedom-1995 t1_j0x8ydf wrote

Because it has a mix of 1 and 5* and averages in the middle. Aka polarizing.


Kindstar11 t1_j0xevcg wrote

I have a hard time trusting good reads reviews. I have read great books with a score in the high 3s and bad books with an low 4 ratings.


information-zone t1_j0y3hy5 wrote

I’ve consistently found books that I DNF which are rated in the 3s, and consistently found books that I enjoy enough to finish which are rated in the 4s.
I no longer start books rated in the 3s.

Edit to add: I’m referring to the book’s overall average.


kuluka_man t1_j0xjuti wrote

I might be personally skewing the review pool by indiscriminately ranking everything I read 3 stars.


throwaway-clonewars t1_j0xm1y6 wrote

I might be a weird one, but I don't usually look at reviews for whether to read or not. I mean, it might affect WHEN I read, but I'm usually set on reading the book when I get it. I also like to see where I fall with the book compared to other reviews so I usually try not to read or look at rating until partway into or finished with the book.

Also I rank a bit different- at least from the suggested list I saw someone share.

1- terrible

2- not good, but readable

3- "it's a book"/mid-level, nothing outstanding or overly memorable

4- (better, if in a series if 3 books) good/very good, something interesting about it makes it well worth the time

5- one of my favorites, would revisits multiple times/ unique in some manner

That being said, I've only ever given 2 books a 1 star (I had to read for school), with most being a 3 or 4 star rating.


Eire_Banshee t1_j0xt9un wrote

You just described every ayn rand book on Goodreads.


Orangebird t1_j0xux56 wrote

My self-published book is a 3.6 please please please let this be true.


Dalton387 t1_j0y2le2 wrote

I see that kind of thing all the time in many genres. I don’t think I’ve ever DNF’d a book. I didn’t know it was a thing till I joined Reddit.

It’s almost a joke as well. Someone will say it was garbage when whatever they’re saying isn’t true. Like there is a series called Dungeon Crawler Carl. I saw a guy who supposedly reviews a lot and he said it was too silly and he quite. Well, it can be, but it’s also pretty dark and has many serious moments. Dude obviously didn’t read very far if he thought it was all silly. As a matter of fact, that silliness is really needed. The authors other stuff is super dark. DCC is good because it has some brightness to it.

I also see people who will get on and complain that a character isn’t ultra-super-final evolution from from the jump. They’ll complain that the character has flaws isn’t the ultimate representation of whatever. Never mind giving them a chance to evolve and change through the story. Why read their journey if they don’t experience change?

I also see tons of dueling opinions. People will scream that one book is garbage because it just dumps them in with no explanation and expects them to figure it out as they go. Then I’ll scroll down to posts and see someone complaining that they’ve been given too much information and they’re committing the sin of telling and not showing.

My general opinion is that people just want to complain and have someone pat them on the head for it. I’ve seen a trend in people wanting to stand out by tearing something down. They’ll search and hunt for something to complain about. Then you get a plethora of screaming seagulls echoing the statement.

I’ve seen many authors who are praised for being amazing, then when they get popular and everyone talks about them, someone has to come out trash talking them and several other people are like, “yeah, I always thought they were trash all along. Also, don’t check my post history.” To me, it’s the equivalent of goth/emo kids saying they’re gonna rebel and teach everyone a lesson by being unique and dressing like every other goth/emo kid and anyone who has a problem like with that can just get over themselves. No one understands them.

I’m fine if someone legitimately has an issue with a book and they’re welcome to discuss it. I just think people take themselves too seriously. When people “review” books, it’s like they think they’re the lone reviewer for the New York Times. In reality, your opinion only matters to you. I’m including myself and any reviews I do in that statement. I always hope my reviews can encourage people to try the book, but I don’t think anyone should just blindly accept my take on it. The only way reviews are valid, just on their own, is if you’ve read many reviews by the same person, read the books under review, and found you generally agree with the person. Otherwise, how do you know you won’t love what they hate? What if they say a book is garbage because it has elves and dragons and that’s kiddy shit. What if you love those things and read anything that has them?

But yeah, I think there is a problem with “critics” taking themselves too seriously and looking for issues to make it seem like they’re super analysts. You just have to take any review with a grain of salt. I’ve enjoyed many books and movies for what they are when they had horrible reviews and everyone crapped on them. I’m much happier being able to enjoy them, than those people are crapping on them.


Pandora5422 t1_j0y4npc wrote

Agree. Especially the pretentious ‘reviewers’ who relate their opinions as though it’s the only opinion. They summarize the plot that’s stated in the publisher’s description just in case we missed it at the top of the page. So the 3.0 range to them is their stamp on a literary right to read. I’ve learned to scoff at these reviews because I have rated books at 2.0 and under while the reading world is rating the same book 4.0-5. They’re just individual opinions. I’m always reminded of Edmund Wilson “No two people read the same book”. Then I feel better.


komesubr t1_j0y6q9r wrote

More than ratings I usually look how many review It has, I mean why over 100k people read and reviewed this?


RVG990104 t1_j0ybh7q wrote

Ratings/reviews in Goodreads are useless most of the time but they are specially useless when the book in question is a classic that is typically a required reading in schools, people will just distill their hatred towards it there. I only use it to record what I read. That being said I do love seeing those super ridiculous reviews like the people giving the old man and the sea bad reviews because the protagonist has a bad case of toxic masculinity and should just let go of the fish and go to McDonald's.


jphistory t1_j0ytxqt wrote

I treat reviews for books like I treat restaurant reviews. When they complain, what are they complaining about? Like if they say "beautiful language but took forever to build to any sort of action" I'm alllll over it. Or if they complain that it was super weird or that the ending was too ambiguous or something I might check it out.

I also occasionally amuse myself by reading one and two star reviews for classics. Like the kids who complain about everyone having too many names in War and Peace. :)


Change-Apart t1_j0yxleh wrote

i think the phrase here would be that they’re the only ones that who can see that the emperor is naked. also ye, i thought it was weird when i noticed that one of kimberlé crenshaw’s essays that I read was rated highest out of my books this year when i’d read the Aeneid, Anna Karenina and other incredibly good books as well.


Nonamenoonenowhere t1_j0yz4ee wrote

I can see this. I only read 1 star & 3 star reviews to give me an accurate picture of whether I’ll like the book.


PumPumPuddha t1_j0z1xs5 wrote

My favorite is this comment- I really really wanted to like this book… 🤮


ruby-perdu t1_j0zb9wk wrote

I feel similarly about movies often.


Medusas-Snakes t1_j0zi849 wrote

I’m pretty strict about not reading anything with less than 4 stars because I tend not to enjoy them.


dompidu t1_j0zs0iz wrote

The ones with 3.76 are the best. Not kidding.


ALX23z t1_j0zu6hw wrote

Not sure about Goodreads, but rating below 4 on Amazon Kindle means that the book is most likely shit while above 4 - means nothing beyond that some people liked it. Not that you'll like it, not even conditioned on it being a genre you like. And I doubt it is different for other platforms.


SoothingDisarray t1_j0zwpnm wrote

I think that is definitely true for some people and the books they like! But it's clearly not universally true since 100+ people on this thread have already said they tend to prefer books with a lower-than-4 rating.

(Also... maybe it is different between Kindle ratings and GoodReads ratings. Maybe Kindle is more nakedly promotional and curves ratings upwards in order to encourage sales? So stuff on Kindle that is <4 is actually more like a <2 rating? I don't know!)


ALX23z t1_j0zxtyl wrote

It's just that people frequently don't bother reviewing anything, and when people finished reading a book it is usually a 4 or 5 rating. Most people that wouldn't like it will either drop the book based on synopsis/genre/reviewers and never rate or DNF early on and never bother to rate it.

I am not sure what causes people to read 3.5 rated books. Is it only when a lot of people read them just cause its popular? Author mentioned some about "well reviewed books".


SharkSmile2121 t1_j101kt4 wrote

This is kind of like when I found out that albums pitchfork rates 7.8 - 8.2 are the best


almonster11 t1_j108z02 wrote

I've learned not to judge a book by its cover, but by the 5 star reviews of the people who praised or maligned it.

I recently read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad- such a fantastic novella. Gorgeously written. Quite engaging. But the one-star reviews on Goodreads were infuriating. When I looked into the books praised by that those users giving it one-star reviews, I started to understand. You have to consider the source when it comes to reviews. Does this person enjoy the same books as you? Then you can probably trust their opinion. Does this person enjoy books that are the polar opposite of the things you enjoy? Then you can most likely skip their reviews.


beatin123 t1_j109chb wrote

Wtf is good reads or tink tok


therlwl t1_j0x4e33 wrote

Or pro tip, reviews don't matter, absolutely meaningless.


goat_meal t1_j0xwbld wrote

And anything with a ton of rave reviews was in Reese’s book club, will become a movie, and are probably pretty predictable


StoicComeLately t1_j0wj277 wrote

In other words, the high literature that is too refined for the pleebs to understand or enjoy? 🧐


Proper_Cold_6939 OP t1_j0wkdyj wrote

lol, they're not automatically good by default. Contentious books can still be failures. Obviously I'm not going purely off this metric alone.