How Much Does My Taste Follow the Crowd? Thoughts on Goodreads Choice Awards

thoughts orangutan

I’ve been watching the Goodreads Choice Awards from the side-lines for years. Sometimes I vote in a couple of categories, sometimes I pick up the odd book, but mostly I just see it in my periphery as a vague recommendation of books I’ve already heard everyone raving about. When I got to thinking about it this year, I realised that the vast majority I see on there aren’t interesting to me, despite being in categories I read. Since this is a popularity contest, this got me to wondering… does my taste follow the crowd? I decided to do an experiment, looking back on the last 5 years of Goodreads Choice Awards (which correlates with how long I’ve been blogging), putting it into a spreadsheet and calculating how many books I liked/disliked/am uninterested in… because I am just that dorky 😉 And my results were…

goodreads choice awards

Interesting. As you can see, the vast majority, I don’t want to read. And that’s pretty much what I suggested going in. One thing of note was that I found I was less interested the further back I went (going from not interested in 68% of 2019 contenders to 80% of the selection from 2015). This makes sense to me, since blogging has exposed me to a lot more of these books.

goodreads choice awards by genre

Now, of course, the categories I covered were only those I was already interested in- but even among those were huge differences. What I found was that I tend to read a lot more from particular categories, yet ignore others. While I do read general adult fiction, I’m usually as likely to dislike them as to enjoy them, so I don’t pay too much attention to the suggestions. I consistently found I picked up more modern YA, particularly YA fantasy, than any other genre. What’s interesting there is how YA is only 40% of my reading on average… suggesting that the adult books I’m choosing are less popular, older or outside the range of the Goodreads Choice Awards (well, not just suggesting, this is an informed guess based on all the data I’ve gathered over the years 😉) Of course, there were also lots of books in genres I don’t typically read, which I also liked (a few memoirs like Educated and humorous reads like I, Partridge). Plus, I didn’t count graphic novels, because that’s more of a newer interest and I didn’t want to skew the results, but there were *loads* of recent releases I was interested in there.

The most significant find was that when I do pick up these books, I tend to like them more often than not (15% liked as opposed to 6% disliked). Again, there’s a difference in which genres I like more- I’m far more likely to enjoy the fantasy or YA fantasy picks than the fiction category… which, again, tells you why I keep picking those up. It seems like I’m largely choosing the right ones for me from the selection.

And that’s my biggest takeaway from this (perhaps very random) experiment. If you do choose to read books from the Goodreads choice award, then try to be specific. And if you do choose less popular books or just don’t want to read any of these, then that’s great too! The important thing is to read what you want- regardless of what everyone else is reading.

So, what do you think of my results? Do you have a similar reaction to the Goodreads Choice Awards? Let me know in the comments!

32 thoughts on “How Much Does My Taste Follow the Crowd? Thoughts on Goodreads Choice Awards

  1. I love this experiment! Sometimes it’s good to take a look at your reading likes and dislikes to see what that that might suggest in your reading habits or to just generally take a wider look at your reading journey. Blogging has definitely exposed me to a wider range of genres but my main focus is YA fantasy. But the choice awards have also recommended some really interesting adult fiction and contemporary books. Again, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yeah I thought it would be a fun experiment to try and it was 🙂 I completely get that! I’ve had the same experience with blogging 😀 And yeah I get that- personally I’ve found some interesting memoirs through it too. And I think it’s good if it can encourage people to try more in different genres.
      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Can’t say I ever pay attention to anything coming out of goodreads. Considering I usually read 2-3 years behind the curve anyway, not sure it would do me any good to look at their sales ads…

    Liked by 4 people

  3. This post made me return to last year’s Goodreads winners and realize; there are some damned good books on this list. Only The Testaments, the sequel of the by me equally unappealing The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood, fails to induce a glimmer of interest in me. Maybe next month, because right now I’m struggling to get the third part of my Quilogy on the road before my self imposed deadline expires by the end of this month. I’ll next month catch up with reading. After all, every craftsman wants to know what the competition is up to.

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  4. Fun idea! I’ve always figured the Goodreads Choice Awards were akin to a popularity contest and never paid much attention to them beyond voting for books I felt deserved it. (I’m one of those people who only vote for books they’ve actually read. While I want to believe everyone else does the same, I’m not that naive.) But now I’m curious to see how many of the books from past years I’m even interested in reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you! Yeah I think they’re very much in that vein. Although I had no idea that people voted for books they hadn’t read!! (though it makes sense, given that people review books on there they haven’t read too! I feel like there would be an easy way to stop people doing that- ie it should be marked as read before you can vote at the very least!) It was a fun experiment to do! 😀


  5. Interesting indeed – you did some amazing research to figure out your percentages. I don’t think I could make an accurate pie chart but I do like peach pie. I keep a brief note of every book I read. I read what I believe I will like based on author, subject, genre, Pulitzer and other major awards. I also read the books my book club suggests and my biggest disappointments are these selections, though sometimes I like them. But I joined the book club for the value of talking books with people, gaining a new perspective on a particular title. I also knew I’d dislike some selections. Most important percentage: I love reading 150%. (Bad at math.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! hahaha!! Fair enough- peach pie is undoubtedly better 😉 Ah I understand- I also find that book club selections can be a bit of a miss for me, because they’re based less on what I want to read and more on other people’s tastes/opinions. But yes, it’s more about meeting people and talking about the books in those cases. hahaha! Same!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Like you there are usually only a couple of books that I have read each year of the awards, but for me it is because I read a lot from the indie sector, so few will make it to the Goodreads awards lists. But every now and again I will dip into a popular book or author. I tried Kate Quinn this year and have really enjoyed her books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah I think that’s really good! I wish there was an equivalent for indie books, cos I feel like that would encourage people to read more of them 🙂 And that makes sense! that’s great! I really want to try her books as well 🙂


  7. “mostly I just see it in my periphery as a vague recommendation of books I’ve already heard everyone raving about”.
    Haha, same here! I don’t even get the GR awards that much to begin with. I mean, it’s the GR team who selects the nominees (according to WHICH criteria?), while users can only VOTE for them. And lately I’ve heard complaints about the lack of diversity of those nominees, while people have been consistently reading more and more diverse books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hehe glad I’m not the only one 😉 Yeah that’s such a good point- I should’ve included this, but a while back I saw a booktuber called Daniel Greene talking about this, saying that really the awards should be for books released that year with the highest ratings, so it’s not just the most popular books (curated by goodreads aka amazon). And yeah that’s a really good point as well!


    1. hehe yeah I think he’s mentioned that he had some bad experiences and I can see how that’s possible (and have heard similar things from other people) I just typically use it as a giant database, so don’t have many problems with it

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The book market is so influenced by hype.

    I think this is a really interesting way of looking at things! I think generally it works for me to read as widely as I can, and things like GR Awards have never really been the best way for me to do that so I don’t much engage with them nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s so fascinating to see how your reading and enjoyment of these Goodreads awards books lines up and it makes me curious to see how mine would match up. I don’t typically follow the awards since it’s mostly a popularity contest, but the books I have read that have been nominated are typically ones I know I’m going to and did enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think I probably only match up with a couple the book winners on gr. It’s a huge popularity contest and sometimes I am waaaay off the mark of what’s popular LOL. Also it’s tough because I don’t read most of the categories, only a few!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t look at those choice awards or list. I see popular books here on blogging community and Instagram and I read them a year or two later when prices are bit reasonable, unless I’ve received ARCs. So by the time i read a popular books or choice award book or hyped book, I wouldn’t remember what I read about them except synopsis. In short, it doesn’t matter to me and doesn’t affect if I would enjoy the book or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I like how every now and then we can expect a post with interesting stats in them (it’s fun figuring out how different my own stats would be)! Most of the time, the choices on the Goodreads Choice Awards are unknown to me so I rarely vote for fairness sake. I’m not sure how the nominees are chosen, which raises questions like “are the nominees chosen based on what the Goodreads staff deem popular?” and so on, but it’s all rather interesting when you think about it


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