These days, I’ve been seeing a lot of people talking about the Goodreads challenge and why it’s bad. The most common arguments are about the idea of imposing stress and competition onto reading, which is supposed to be a fun activity, and how trying to get your numbers up just makes the task into a chore. There is, of course, something to be said for this; the process of turning “games” into work has been well-documented. (For a cool take on this, check out this piece from The Atlantic about the problems with the Untitled Goose Game!) Far be it from me to condemn those who seek to remove the numerical insanity from their reading habits; as I like to say, read what and how you want to, because life is too short to do otherwise.
But, with that in mind, there is no need to vilify those (myself included) who do enjoy counting the books they read. We have perfectly valid reasons to want to keep track of those numbers. Here are a few of mine:
Author: Claire Kann Publication date: January 23, 2018 Genre: young adult contemporary, LGBTQ+ My rating: 1/5 stars (and I considered giving it less than that…)
I. Am. So. Mad. At. This. Book. Seriously, I am one angry ace right now. I was so excited about this book; I had seen it listed so many times in articles with lists of books featuring asexual main characters, and plenty of people had written great reviews of it on Goodreads. I should have realized early on that most of those glowing reviews were not from OwnVoices reviewers; the one highly-ranked review I saw written by someone who is actually ace was quite critical.
It became apparent that the people who praised this book were glad because it taught them about asexuality. The thing is, simply having representation isn’t enough, especially if that representation is bad. And BOY HOWDY was this representation bad. Maybe someone out there can see their feelings reflected in the story told here, but for me–based on my own experience, the experiences of other aces I know, and the little research that actually exists on asexuality–it was inaccurate, full of stereotypes, and generally just not good.
Oh, and the book itself was pretty crap as well, so before I start tackling all the ways in which the book does aces dirty, might as well discuss those problems.
Alright, folks, time for another round of hot takes on the book community. Today’s focus: annoying, repetitive questions. See, I’m in a lot of bookish Facebook groups, and in those groups, there are certain questions that just get asked over and over and over. They aren’t original, nor are they questions whose answers will change over time, and all they end up doing is cluttering everyone’s newsfeed. Like…have you people never heard of using the search bar? Or Google?
For the convenience of all parties, today I am going to list (and answer) a couple of these oft-repeated questions. Please, for the love of all that is sacred, don’t ask them again–to me or to anyone else.
Folks, it’s that time of year again! All around the world, readers are flocking to Goodreads to place their votes for which books were the “best” this year, in genres ranging from Historical Fiction to Romance to Memoir to Young Adult Fantasy. Close to 4 million votes have already been placed (3,948,345 as of the time I type this paragraph). It’s a fun, interactive way for the bookish community–both dedicated superfans and casual readers alike–to have a say in the determination of a literary award, and given that it is hosted through (probably) the most popular book-tracking website, it reaches a huge audience. In theory, it’s an awesome award and a good rally point for bookworms everywhere.
In practice, there are just SO MANY PROBLEMS with it.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I love the concept of people being able to choose and vote for their favorites. It’s like the People’s Choice Awards, but for print media instead of movies and TV. But for a site run by the almighty Amazon, you would think that the logistics of this popular contest would be ironed out a little better. Some of my quibbles with it are small, others are quite substantial, but all of them add up to form a resounding impression that this contest just doesn’t work like it should. Here are some of my reasons why.
Author: Christine Riccio Publication date: May 7, 2019 Genre: young adult, contemporary, speculative fiction (?) My rating: 1.5/5 stars
Note: I first published a version of this review on my Goodreads account in June 2019. I figured, with the fact that this dumpster fire is up for a Goodreads Choice Award now, I should clean it up a little and get my (very strong) opinions up here as well.
That was…disappointing. There were some promising elements (some of the details hit way too close to home…), and the premise was cool, but the execution was lacking, and it was a little painful to get through. For some context, I read this because the new Barnes and Noble YA Book Club chose it as their first monthly pick, and I was going to go to that discussion. But when I finished the book, I was not a huge fan–didn’t despise it, so I wasn’t going to rant about it or anything, but didn’t have any desire to spend even another minute on it. So when my mom and brother decided they were going to get Dairy Queen shortly before when I would have had to leave for that meeting, I opted to go get ice cream and skip the discussion altogether. That’s the kind of apathy I felt.
In retrospect, I actually did hate it a lot more than I initially thought, to the point that I decided to sell this book–which I had actually paid just about full price for, in hardcover–to Half-Price Books for about $3 (yeah, they’re kind of cheapskates…) because I didn’t want it on my shelf, nor did I want to give it to my friend who is a high school English teacher for her classroom library, because, again, it was garbage.