Five features I would love to see on Goodreads!!!

I have been quite active on Goodreads for a while now. There is so much to love about this site – all the options for shelving, the giveaways, integrations with online stores, and just being able to share your opinions as quick reviews without the pressure of putting together a “well-constructed” review.

But, hey, I have been using it for over three years, and there have been times when I have thought “Hmm, it would be nice if …. was available”

So, here are some features I would love to see being implemented on GR in the near future:

  1. The Half-Star ratings: I think this comes up as a common gripe among the users because it is just so frustrating when you have to round off a 3 and a half stars to a 4 or a 3. Or pretty much, any half-star rating. Especially, when you have those “The book was sooo good… but that ending tho..” kind of books when you really don’t want to take off an entire rating star icon .
  2. Amazon integration for reviews: It would be great if reviews from GR are posted directly on Amazon! While I don’t mind posting it twice (it takes only a second or two to copy-paste!!), I feel this would be a pretty, uh, logical feature to implement. Goodreads is used as much as a publicity medium, as it is for sharing bookish convo and recs. Unlike Amazon, Goodreads allows you to post reviews as soon as the book is listed on the site. This allows all the readers who have got hold of ARC copies to post reviews and recommend the book. But, the downside is that there is a huge difference in the number of reviews posted on Amazon on Goodreads. It isn’t that people don’t have accounts on both sites. But the ARCs are sent out in advance – sometimes almost a year before its release. People read and post reviews on their blogs and GR but aren’t able to do the same on Amazon till the book releases. So, quite a few end up forgetting to copy-paste the review on Amazon a few months later. I am assuming this is, on some level, frustrating for the authors too because, finally, it is the number of Amazon reviews that tangibly reflects on the book’s prospects (?)
  3. Shelving: Yes, I know we can create shelves but it would be nice if GR considers adding two more shelves to the existing (three) default shelves:  a) DNF shelf- because there are so many books that we readers give up on halfway through and would want to just take a note of it and review it anyways or maybe go through the list of DNFed books later. It is not a genre-specific “shelf-type” so I think that itself makes it a good case to consider for a default shelf . b) Giveaways shelf: because, well, it is something GR recommends when you win a giveaway so I have wondered why doesn’t GR create it automatically on winning your first GR giveaway? Or, present the user with a prompt window asking them whether they want a shelf to be created? (so that they have a choice to decline). goodreadsmail
  4. WYSIWYG Editor: Well, I am not talking about hundreds of font colors and styles; but, how about one with the options that are currently available? – the five main ones would do : Bold, Italics, Underline, Blockquote and (since we are talking about reviews and GR-enabled options) Spoilers.
  5. Review order: This is always a bit of a mess!! When I want to see reviews in the order of the date when they are posted, I mean REVIEWS and not RATINGS!!!! I wish there was a way to filter and sort them separately!

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Well, these are some features I would love to see on GR! I am sure a lot more have crept into my mind in the past year that I am not able recall right now… Is it just me or have you guys wished to see any of these features on the site? I know the half-star rating is a pretty popular request and has been discussed about plenty of times so far!!!

All the mildly irritating aspects about picking fantasies for your TBR list!!!!

I really like fantasies, but over the years I seem to have accumulated lots of unfinished books and series. I thought, instead of just listing them, it would be interesting to list them with reasons for ditching so many of them mid-way.

So here are some of the reasons devoting time to fantasies ends up being frustrating:Gold Divider Badass Book Reviews Ohoybc Clipart
1) When it feels like the authors went through plotting fatigue by the time they get to the penultimate book in the series! 

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I felt that way when I read Brisingr. I just thought it opened up too many plots and meandering directions, so I wasn’t too interested in reading the final one.  But this is a series I would like to re-read someday and hopefully finish!

2) When you search for, and read a standalone. But, it ends up being a series!

The Diabolic (The Diabolic, #1)The Empress (The Diabolic, #2)

So, I search for and pick a standalone to read (which is like a Unicorn in fantasies these days). I love it and…. then go online and discover that the author has announced a second book. My initial reaction is positive, but then I wonder, why can’t a standalone stay that way???? Over time, I have realized I don’t do the whole “waiting for the next book in the series to read” thing too well.. because:

3) When, by the time the next book comes out, I forget the events of the previous book .

Buy from: Amazon, B&N, BAM, iBooks, Indiebound, Indigo, TargetBuy from: Amazon, B&N, BAM, iBooks, Indiebound, Indigo, Target

I feel like so much time has passed, and it is hard to invest time and re-read a 400+ page book just to refresh memory. And sometimes, it takes longer to get the next book.. especially if you are relying on your library (and you are in some gazillionth position in the Holds queue). Well, I did end up buying Wayfarer (through a B&N card gifted by a friend <3)  , and it is still lying on my bookshelf…. I loved Passenger, and so, I want to get back to the series this year.. Moreover, I think I must have forgotten most of Passenger by now, so it would be like reading a new book all over.

4) When fantasy demands uniterrupted reading time, especially if it is too rich in world-building (almost info-dumpy)

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And it is not always possible to devote such time. I find it harder to get back to fantasies, if I keep taking breaks of  a few days at a time … With the huge cast, places, timelines, magic systems… It is overwhelming trying to recollect what happened the last time I read. In comparison it is easier to get back to half-read books from most of the other genres.

Maybe I have just lost touch with… getting through heavy fantasy reads? To get past this, I have decided to set my primary reading goal this year as to: High fantasy – especially Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss books .

I don’t think I am ever going to get back to Nevernight though.

5) When it is hard to find a fantasy book that does: 1) Not classify as dystopian in Amazon/Goodreads 2) Not comprise of a female badass teenage MC who is a special snowflake 3) Not have a Chosen One trope 4) Not have a friend-zoned best friend.

Now, I know all genres have tropes, stereotypes ‘n all, and TBH I don’t even mind these tropes most of the time.. as long as it does not have most of them in every book!!! To some extent, I feel it is also because I have stopped looking past the usual and oft-repeated “popular” recommendations on social media. So, this year, I have decided to read some of the “older” books and look into more adult fantasy recommendations in the blogosphere. Let’s see how that goes!

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So, what is your favorite genre? Do you read lot of fantasies? Is there any genre that you had given up on but want to try with renewed enthusiasm in 2018? Hit me up with some recommendations in the comments below!!!

Emotional manipulation in fiction

Well, let me start by saying that all fiction does have some degree of manipulation. Heck, fiction itself starts from authors creating settings, characters and atmosphere and I think sub-consciously they do aim for a certain kind of reaction from the readers. But, what if you come across a book with content that is just blatantly and excessively manipulative – the kind where you feel like you are being “told” how you are supposed to feel?

A Little Life is always going to be one of my most unforgettable two-star reads. It pushed, no, tore the envelope of emotional manipulation into a million pieces by inserting scenes, plot “twists” and laborious descriptive paragraphs of both extremes – the goodness of friendship amongst wealthy men with insanely successful professional lives and the relentless violence against the human body and soul. A few days after reviewing the book, I was searching for the author’s interviews online and .. I don’t know what I was hoping to find, but I guess I just wanted to read Yanagihara’s thoughts about her own book. I just read a few of her statements and what struck me is her admission that the negative extremes (related to abuse) was intentional. I was taken aback because “manipulation” is usually seen as a negative opinion in book reviews.

Which brings me to my next question:

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For me, it doesn’t. At least not while we are on the topic of this discussion post. Knowing intent doesn’t nullify the judgment I might have already made based on the content of the book. If I had judged the author, then yes, having an insight helps to know where the author was coming from and maybe I would change my opinion about the author. But NOT my thoughts on the book.

So, is saying that a book is being overtly manipulative a constructive point of criticism in book reviews? Is it something that plagues any particular genre(s) of fiction? I have grown up reading literary fiction, so it is one of my favorite genres. There is a lot I love about them, but one thing I found quite annoying, especially in books dealing with “heavy” topics, is the lazy scene placements or descriptions which are cues for me to start crying.

This brings me to:

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  1. Well, it just feels disingenuous. If the characters are all well-developed with a personality that sings “Original”, we will connect with their journey THROUGH the story’s progression. There is no need for any other “extra effort”.
  1. Sometimes, less is more. I just feel like in some stories, especially the “issue-based” books, too much of “explaining” or “dwelling” causes desensitization towards the issue, thereby doing a disservice to the cause.
  1. I feel like sometimes, this is just used to cover other basic shortcomings of the book. I also feel that narrative humor is sometimes undervalued in favor of dense moments of drama because there is a perception that the latter is more likely to get critical acclaim (?)

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So, what do you think? Is this something that is more common in “issue-based” book than, say, the funny and lighthearted reads? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

(Note: Image credit: https://www.brusheezy.com/backgrounds)