Thursday, March 8, 2018

Discussion: How Accurate Are Goodreads Recommendations?

The 2018 Discussion Challenge is hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction & It Starts At Midnight



Have you ever looked at the books that Goodreads recommends to you? Not the books recommended by other users, but the ones that the site’s robots think you’ll love? You can find them by going to Browse > Recommendations. The recommendations are based on what other readers have put on their shelves. I’ve never really looked at my Goodreads recommendations because my to-be-read list is long enough, but today I thought I’d take a look and see if I actually want to read any of them. I’m going to focus on young adult books because I’ve reviewed 136 of them. Goodreads should know my tastes, right? Let’s find out.

Here are the first 10 books that Goodreads recommended to me:






 I think we’re off to an okay start. All American Boys, The Raven Boys, and Chains are already on my TBR list. I’ll probably get around to reading them sometime in the next century. (It’s a long list, okay. Don’t judge.)






Honestly, the covers of the other 7 books are huge turn-offs. I wouldn’t be drawn to any of them based on the cover alone. But, my teachers told me not to judge books by the covers, so I’ll read the summaries like an obedient bookworm.

Terrier and Daughter of the Forest have excellent reviews, but they’re the first books in fantasy series, and that’s not usually my thing. I’m extremely picky about fantasy because most fantasy novels are too similar for my tastes. I’ll pass on both of those books. Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites is religious fiction, so no. I’ll skip that one, too.






Burn Baby Burn sounds promising. I love historical fiction, and the synopsis mentions serial killers. It also mentions romance, which I don’t like, but I can slog through a love story if there are serial killers involved. I’d read this book. Well done, Goodreads.






Even though I like books for teens, I’m kinda over books set in high schools. Once you’re an adult, all the cliques and angst just seem petty. That’s why I’d pass on reading Not Otherwise Specified. I also don’t read books about drug addicts, so no to Little Peach.






Love and First Sight is a tricky one. It sounds like a high school love story, but it’s not a traditional one. Based on the synopsis, I’d probably read this book, but the reviews mention that the author is internet famous on YouTube. Was he an author before he became internet famous? I’m asking because I’ve been burned by “celebrity” books in the past. Fans of the “celebrity” love the book, but (in my experience), most celebrities are terrible writers. I’m interested in this novel, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.






So, how did the Goodreads recommendations robot do? Out of the first 10 books it showed me, I’m interested in 5 of them. That’s not great, but it’s not horrible, either. I should probably check out the recommendations more often.




What do you think? How accurate are the recommendations that Goodreads shows you? Am I wrong about any of these books? Which should I read, and which should I avoid?  








52 comments:

  1. I would say that Goodreads is not good about recommending books to me. I didn't know about the "Recommendations" screen, but the ones that pop up on my home page are usually pretty bad and have nothing to do with anything I've read before, so not sure how they came up with them!

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    1. Yeah, I agree about that recommendations widget. It has given me some, um, unusual choices. Goodreads should know that I don’t read erotica!

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. Definitely read Burn Baby Burn!

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  3. I just looked at recommendations based on my YA shelf and they were all already on my TBR. So, uh, good job Goodreads? I don't know how any of these recs work, but every day Twitter sends me people to file, and I throw up a little bit in my mouth. (By the way, Love and First Sight was a favorite of mine. It's funny and sweet and informative too)

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    1. I’m glad you liked Love and First Sight. I ignore Twitter’s follow recommendations, too. It keeps recommending that I follow Donald Trump. No, Twitter. Just, no.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. oooh my goodreads recommendations did an awesome job! All basically on my TBR already. I feel like 5/10 is pretty alright? maybe? but kinda crummy that the only new recommendations that you liked were 2 of them.

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    1. That’s cool that Goodreads got it right for you. My TBR list is giant, so a few of the recommendations were bound to be on there already. I was happy to learn about 2 new books that I hadn't seen before.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. I chose Mystery. 25 (maybe 26) of 50. I automatically counted a couple 400-plus pagers as no, which isn't their fault. There are 3 or 4 foreign language novels, which I counted as no without bothering to check for translations. So I guess the majority seem like decent picks.

    Though I shudder to think about how far off they might be with poetry recommendations.

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    1. Now I kinda want to look at my poetry recommendations. I have a feeling that they’ll be cringe-worthy.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. Yup, those covers are pretty bad. I don't even pay attention to Goodreads recommendations, ever since I found out they affiliated with Amazon. They never get my recs right, either. 5/10 isn't bad though.

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    1. Aren’t those covers awful? Who thought that those covers would sell books?!

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. I feel like they used to be pretty good, but now are... well, they're clearly paid for. I looked at some of mine recently and it was SO obvious that this was just a promotional thing. At least some of them. I have a feeling those middle 3 on your list are among those advertisements. I looked at my first 20 just now, and I am interested in zero of them, so... yeah, not great there, Goodreads! This is such an interesting post, I'd be curious to see what other people's results are too!

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    1. Interesting! I knew that Goodreads was affiliated with Amazon, but I didn’t know that the recommendations would be promotional. I guess that explains why some of them are so wrong.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  8. I usually don't really look at GR recommendations. It used to be okay but lately not so much. I wasn't interested much in the recs they gave me so. XD I usually just come across new books through other bloggers or authors. (Some authors give the BEST recs, just saying.)

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    1. I agree! Bloggers and authors are the best ways to find out about new books.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. I haven't looked at recs on GR in so long. They were always so bad. I might need to check again. I liked Love and First SIght but not sure it would be a good fit for you. Still it is super quick read.

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    1. If I can find a cheap copy of Love and First Sight, I might give it a try. Maybe some fluffiness will be good for me.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  10. Well, they did a horrible job with my recs, but that's probably because I only really started to use GR for the books I owned ages ago, and only this year have I taken to actually trying to use it properly. But perhaps they shouldn't recommend books in languages I don't speak (https://www.goodreads.com/work/editions/1640528-vater-und-sohn-s-mtliche-streiche-und-abenteuer ) It doesn't come in English at all!

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    1. Haha, I got some non-English recommendations, too! Maybe those books are awesome, but I’ll never know.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  11. haha first let me say I AM SO GLAD! I'm not the only one that hasn't read t. The Raven Boys yet [I have tried but it has been a DNF twice!] . All American Boys is patiently waiting for me too. I don't think GR recommendations work for me. I have found maybe one or two books that are really me in 3 years I have been on GR!

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    1. Wow, another person who hasn’t read The Raven Boys? We’re like unicorns . . .

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  12. Oh don't get me started on this! I don't go near this at all as they continually offer me foreign language (don't speak any), ten versions of the same book i read reads ago, erotica, romance, manga, crime, war, western, YA...all the stuff I never read. They don't base it on what I've actuallyread, they base it on the shelves of other people who read a book you liked. So if me and a random book reader liked Harry Potter, I get recs for all the other genres and books she read and liked which don't relate to my interests! I've complained about it until I'm blue in the face but got nowhere with it. Amazon recs are more to my tastes most of the time.

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    1. Yeah, some of the recommendations are very disappointing. They’re not relevant to my interests at all. I might look at Amazon’s recommendations for next month’s discussion post. I’ll see how they compare.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  13. I haven’t really paid attention. I will need to check it out. I think mine would be crazy because I read so many things. I can comment on Josh Sundquist. He is so funny. I read his memoir and it was amazing. It’s called we should hang out sometime. He is famous in you tube because of his humor and his life story. I haven’t read a fiction book by him yet so I can’t say how the book listed is but it’s on my list. We should hang out sometime is amazing though. I had the audio and he narrated which I think made it better. Great post. Makes me want to go heck mine out.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know! I had never heard of Josh Sundquist before Goodreads recommended his book. I should head over to YouTube and see why people love him.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  14. Out of reading this amazing post, I'm so happy that I'm not the only one who gets seriously turned off by 'okay' covers like the synopsis has to be super super amazing to let the cover pass by XD Seems like a good enough rec collection GR gave you. I don't pay much attention to recommendations and now I'm tempted to try this out and see if I do get recs I would genuinely be interested in. But the few ones that get recommended simply while I'm browsing are fine yet not something I would absolutely pick up.

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    1. I’m totally guilty of judging books by their covers. If I like the cover, I’ll probably read the synopsis. The Goodreads widget that gives recommendations while browsing is excellent at telling me about “meh” books. I’m rarely interested in those.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  15. I've just always found that Goodreads recommendations seem random and arbitrary and decidedly uninteresting. I wonder how many people actually use them.

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    1. It would be interesting to find out how many people read the recommended books. Maybe casual readers do? I’m a super-intense reader who puts a lot of effort into finding books. The recommendations usually aren’t accurate enough for me.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  16. I've never looked at the recommendations before, so I took a quick look. About a year ago I seriously started to organise my book shelves, so I see I have lots of recommended books. TBH I work from a TBR review request list or books I'm interested in, so I doubt Id have time for more recommendations.

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    1. That’s understandable. Most reviewers have so much stuff to read that we don’t need recommendations. My TBR shelf is currently overflowing.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  17. I'm laughing at some of these recommendations! XD I just looked at mine and some of them were good, but some were... interesting. I was even recommended a book of stories to read aloud to your kids? My dogs might find them interesting, I guess. Haha!

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    1. LOL, my childhood dog threw up on a book once. Other than that, my dogs don’t seem very interested in literature.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  18. Huh 5 out of 10 huh? I wonder what mine would be, I need to go look. This sounds fun too. :) And I've never really thought about it before! I imagine if you read a lot of different kind of stuff these could really get wacky!!

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    1. That’s one of the reasons I chose to look at my YA shelf. My other shelves have so much random stuff on them that the recommendations would be wonky.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  19. I remember I used to look at recommendations! But that was ages ago, before I was drowning in TBR anyway :D I guess, if we didn't have our fellow bloggers to recommend the life out of us xD then we'd find these very useful. But in the end, there's nothing to replace a real-person recommendation, and even better if it's someone you know and whose tastes you trust.

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    1. Agreed. A real person will always give better recommendations than a robot.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  20. I haven’t looked st the Goodreads recommendations in ages. I started getting some really weird ones that didn’t suit me at all.

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    1. I get a lot of those, too. Goodreads seems to think I love romance and erotica.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  21. This is such a great idea for a post. I went and looked at my recs, but the first ten were all based on one book ("Since you added You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone ..."). They all looked pretty good, but I don't know that I'd rush out to get any of them.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Interesting! Since you read so much, you’d think Goodreads could get a little more creative. It sucks that all the recommendations were based on one book.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  22. I just ignore Goodreads so-called recommendations. They're uniformly terrible. Come see what I'm reading

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  23. oh this is really cool! I haven't actually explored this part of GR before.😂 I just checked out mine and it had a *few* I'd heard of/semi interested in...but a ton of really generic looking fantasy. Okay then, Goodreads.😂 I remember seeing that recommendation widget on the homepage sidebar once tell me to read Elmo because I liked some super epic fantasy thing and I'm like...I THINK THERE IS A GLITCH HERE.😂

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    1. My recommendations also had a lot of generic-sounding books with terrible covers. That Elmo thing is funny. I get recommended picture books, too. Goodreads users must have a lot of random stuff on their shelves.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  24. My recs are dreadful. I read so many different genres that I believe I confuse their algorithm. There isn't one title on my recommended page that I'm interested in reading. Thankfully we have blogs :)

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    1. YES! All the best recommendations come from blogs.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  25. Five out of ten actually seems pretty good! I know I have looked at those recs in the past, but I don't remember how helpful they were. I just notice sometimes when GR is randomly like, "We rec *this* book since you liked *that* book!" and it's almost always a book I gave three stars to? Like, no GR. Three stars means I didn't really like it. I've given plenty of books higher ratings, why are you not making recs based on those???

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  26. Great discussion! While there are some books that Goodreads suggested that I'm interested in, I wasn't that interested in all the books listed up there, probably because I usually look at the user ratings when determining the books I want to read and if the ratings are low, even if Goodreads recommended them to me, I still wouldn't pick the book up because of that.

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  27. This is such a fabulous post! I've actually found out that the recommendations work better for me on Amazon. It's under the section that people bought this book and they also bought this book. That's how I've found a few authors that I absolutely love. I'm not sure if you've ever looked at those but it'd be interesting to see if you like the first 10 books better or less on there vs Goodreads. :)
    Jen @ Star-Crossed Book Blog

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  28. 'but I can slog through a love story if there are serial killers involved' - I love you AJ, fair play ;) XD

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