I've been on Goodreads for a solid decade now, and I have added pretty much every single book I've read during that time, and a great number of books I read before then. When I first joined, I saw it entirely as something to organize and remember what I've read and what I want to read. I didn't use it as a social connector, and while I enjoyed reading reviews of books I'd just read, I didn't take star averages very seriously, and didn't expect others to be looking at mine. I was recording personal responses for my own reflection, not writing objective analyses--that's what professional reviews were for.
And maybe that was fine back in 2009, but as I've seen more and more about authors getting upset with 3 star reviews, and people dismissing the possibility of reading books with a less than 4 star average, I've become uncomfortable with putting ratings on a public forum. Then there is the pushback against reviews that start, "I don't usually like [x genre or format] but..." or "I guess the target audience would like it, but I didn't," both of which are comments I have certainly made. Because again, I am writing these FOR MYSELF. If a romance knocks my socks off, that's unusual FOR ME, which does not mean there's anything wrong with other people adoring romance novels. If a middle grade novel's ending is too pat FOR ME, it doesn't mean I think the author wrote the book wrong.
I started blogging in 2015, and around then is when I started tracking my reading on my own Google forms/spreadsheets. At first it was just a matter of adding more categories than I could track on Goodreads, like if I was reading OwnVoices books and where I was finding my books. Lately, however, I've realized I'm actually entering different ratings on my own sheet than I do on GR--rounding down for my private records, and rounding up for the public site. Since that's pretty ridiculous, I've realized that there's no need for me to track star ratings on Goodreads at all.
I thought about rephrasing how I rate books, like Nicole did on Feed Your Fiction Addiction. A 3 star book for me is one I enjoyed as I read, but don't expect to remember. 4 stars is one that impressed me in some way, and 5 stars means I loved it whole-heartedly. In my mind, writing and publishing a decent book instead of a book I love is like being an NBA player nobody's really heard of--you are still goddamn amazing compared to most of us. I'd be happy in a world in which all books were in that 3-5 star range, but I can see why an author might feel insulted by a 3 star rating. But again, I'm not rating books because I'm trying to influence sales or even opinions. I just want to track my own reading life.
I'll still use Goodreads--I have found so many books by seeing what pops up when I'm logging books, I enjoy the visual aspect of the site, and I like seeing what my friends are reading. I've never been big on reviewing in any format, blog or Goodreads, so there's no big change there. But as of now, I'm done rating books on Goodreads.
Have you changed anything about how you rate books or how you use Goodreads? Is there a role for blogs that are about books but not about reviews? Tell me your thoughts!