Goodreads What Were You Thinking? All The Times I Questioned The Goodreads Choice Award Winners…

While I religiously await the announcement of the Goodreads Choice Awards Nominees and Winners every. darn. year, I am nearly always disappointed by the outcome. Not just because I don’t want to read a lot of the books on the list, but because there are so frequently WTH moments, where I question the reading gods and why they chose to put such blatantly bad books at the top of the list. So, following up on my last post where I discussed the winners I actually liked I’ve decided to discuss some of the stinkers and meh reads that somehow managed to win this (perhaps-not-so) prestigious award.

Now, as much as I’m tempted to simply stick all my one/two banana reads on here, I am not going to just be playing into my own specific biases (*though obviously there will be some bias because you can’t have an objective opinion* 😉) I’m going to be talking about some books I quite liked- yet where I *DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY IT WON*. Because there’s some weird shit going on sometimes with these votes and I don’t get it. On the more positive side, I also won’t be sticking books I hated (*ahem* TFIOS) just because I hated them- even I can see why they were popular. Finally, while I’ll give an honorary mention to Cursed Child and Go Set a Watchman, I can’t give them a proper spot on this list because I haven’t read them (and actively don’t want to- which is why I question the fact they won!!)

Alright, enough of a preamble- onto the books!

Lessons in Chemistry– and I’m instantly breaking my own rule by including a book I’m not surprised won. It’s not a terrible book by any stretch of the imagination and it does appeal to a certain kind of ideological thinking- HOWEVER it’s this that frustrates me in the sheer arbitrariness of why a book becomes popular. As much as it’s not terrible, it’s also not great. If not for *the messaging* making certain people with a very slanted (and somewhat childish) view of history happy, this book would not have had the crazy success that it did.

The Maid– moving onto a book that’s not bad at all and that I actually LIKED… Look if this had been up for a contemporary award, I wouldn’t have minded so much (although I still wouldn’t have voted for it). What I object to is that a book with such a poorly written mystery plot won in that category?! When I read this, I distinctly remembered enjoying it *in spite* of feeling it was mismarketed as a thriller- and you want me to accept that it won over *so many* genuinely suspenseful and well-plotted books in that category?!? Nah man, it feels like I’ve been had.

Spanish Love Deception– okay this one was just lousy. There’s nothing else to say. It’s hundreds of pages of nothing. Whatever made it popular on Tiktok made it popular on Goodreads- and I don’t get it.

House of Earth and Blood– I like this less and less over time. Maas’ foray into adult fiction didn’t distinguish itself from her YA, except that it was more convoluted and boring. But hey- at least the characters and their romances felt like they’d been copied straight from her other books (except with new descriptors). This was not it for me.

Court of Silver Flames– yeahhh I’m not sorry for including Maas twice on this list. I’m just so unimpressed with the continuation of this series (that didn’t even satisfy me with its first conclusion). I felt like a sucker for reading it. And though this may be a case of me not being into Maas’ books anymore, I’m just gonna come out and say it: I’m tired of Maas winning fantasy category every year when there are so many better fantasy books out there. I want to see another author who actually brings something exciting to the genre win this for a change!

It Ends With Us– when this first came out, I felt like a pariah for not liking it. I personally find it a crass representation of domestic violence with an oversimplified plot and some tropes that are questionable (particularly the way it represents the abuser as just a poor damaged soul rather than the narcissistic prick they actually are according to science 😉). I thought I was alone in this, yet more recently, I’ve found I’m not so alone in my opinion. So at least that’s comforting. It winning an award for this shoddy job is still salt in the wound.

Still Me– such a nothing book. I cannot fathom why this lousy follow up to Me Before You was so well liked. Someone will have to explain it to me, because I don’t get it.

Truly Madly Guilty– I can barely even remember this book, but I can see from the average rating of 3.59 that it’s not super well-loved- so why the hell did this win an award?? Was it simply a matter of author recognition? Is that the secret to all of these?

The Last Thing He Told Me– yet another nothing burger with a side of empty fries. This is one of the most forgettable books I’ve ever read- so much so I can’t even remember the story! How then did it win an award when it was competing with books that contained an actual- ya know- memorable story!?!

Girl on a Train– because this wasn’t Gone Girl and this trainwreck was the start of a Satanic spawning of a whole subgenre of thrillers I am not here for.

So- here’s the moment of truth- do you agree or disagree with these books? Can you tell me why they were popular? AM I MISSING SOMETHING??!! And are there other winners you didn’t like? Let me know in the comments!

Following the crowd! Goodreads Choice Award Winners I LOVE

Often when the Goodreads Choice Award Winners are announced I give a huff of disapproval. Too often, for me at least, I can’t see why the books have won this annual popularity contest. It’s not just that I don’t like the books, it’s that I don’t get the hype. I guess I just don’t follow the crowd enough (as I discussed in a far more scientific, statistical piece a few years ago). AND YET sometimes, I absolutely do get it. This list is dedicated to the times when the Goodreads community were bang on the money and put the best books in the top spot. Without further ado, these are my favourite Goodreads Choice Award Winners:

Carrie Soto Was Here– obviously a 90s tennis book was gonna be a real winner with me! To be fair, I seem to be won over by every Taylor Jenkins Reid book, so I’ll admit I vote for them every time.

Circe– another no-brainer, this *genius* Odyssey retelling is one of those rare occasions where an author actually manages to get us to care more about a secondary character than the original hero. But then, Miller is a master at storytelling.

Red Rising– romans in space was bound to be bring a lot of action… and a lot of heartache. This delivered a bloodydamn brilliant time. As a fan eagerly awaiting the sixth instalment in this powerhouse of a series, I can safely say it deserved this award (and more besides!)

The Martian– a sci fi about being stuck in space shouldn’t make me this happy- and somehow it does! Weir’s wonderful protagonist Mark Watney is a favourite for me and many other readers to this day!

Pumpkinheads– of course this deserved to win! A cutesy, sweet Halloween graphic novel is what we all need in our lives. It was not only an instant hit with me- it’s something I return to every year!

Clap When You Land– emotionally, this is note perfect. There are few contemporary YA books that stand up to the power of this story.

Salt to the Sea– speaking of a book hitting you in the *feels*, this book pretty much hammers you with emotions. With this book, Sepetys proved beyond a doubt that her historical fiction, focusing on topics not often touched on, was top notch. 

The Nightingale– while the subject of French occupation and resistance in WW2 is broadly discussed in literature, I have to say this particular portrayal is immensely powerful and worth checking out. I think this is popular for a reason.

Silent Patient– perhaps this one may not make me quite so popular- but I do love this Greek mythology inspired thriller. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, yet clearly I’m not alone in enjoying its success.

We Were Liars– a lot of this book’s success came from people being hush hush about its plot twist- however I have never been quiet about how much I loved this YA book.

Gone Girl– if nothing else, I get this story’s significance in the cultural zeitgeist. Still inspiring copycats over a decade later, this is expertly written, with a twist to die for. It’s absolutely deserving of all the accolades. 

And that’s all for now! Do you agree or disagree with this list? And dare I ask- are you a fan of Goodreads Choice Awards? Let me know in the comments!