Goodreads Choice Awards: How Do You Decide?

November 18, 2016 The Bookwyrm Wonders 13


How do you decide what to vote for in the Goodreads Choice Awards?

The Goodreads Choice Awards are in their final round. As I was voting for my favorites, I got to wondering: How do other readers decide which books to vote for? Specifically, I’ve got three questions:

1. How do you choose between two books you loved? What are the criteria that make you pick one title over another within a category?

2. Do you ever vote for a book you haven’t read? If so, why? If not, why not?  And if you do, how do you pick? Is it the one you most want to read, the one you’ve heard the most good things about, the one by an author you adore?

3. Do you vote in every category? Why or why not?




So how do I choose?

The first question is hard for me to answer, especially because it only came up in one category this year (Children’s/MG Books, if you’re curious.) If I rated more than one book the same, it’s hard to choose between them. I try to think about the quality of the writing, the usual nuts and bolts of plot and character development and prose style and so on. I also look at whether there’s anything that makes one book more thought-provoking than another. I might love two fantasies equally, but if one pushed me to think about an issue or idea that I haven’t thought about before, or pushed me to grow in some way, I would lean toward that one. I also consider whether the author did something new and/or unusually creative. And I look at things like diversity: is this yet another book with a white protagonist and a mainly white cast, or are the protagonist and/or other sympathetic major characters people of color, people with disabilities, people of various faiths, LGBT people? And if so, are they presented realistically, without stereotyping, and with respect?

The second question is easier. I don’t vote for books I haven’t read, even when I’m tempted to. And I am often tempted to, especially when it turns out I haven’t read any of the books that made the finals in that category, but I really want to read one or more. I ran into that with YA Fantasy this year; I haven’t read any of the finalists yet, even though several are on my TBR list. But I think that a book award should reflect what readers actually think about the book, rather than what other people have said about it, or how attractive the blurb is, or how popular the author is. I’ve read books by authors I love that turned out to be no more than meh. I’ve read books everyone was raving about, that I actively disliked or saw huge flaws in. So I prefer not to vote on books I haven’t read; they might not be as good as I’ve heard, or as I hope they are.

And that, of course, makes my answer to number 3 pretty easy. I don’t vote in a category unless I’ve read at least one book in that category. This year, that left me voting in very few categories in the finals: just Romance, Nonfiction, and Middle Grade/Children’s. And you could say I fudged Nonfiction. I had read enough of Hamilton: The Revolution to vote for it, but it had to go back to the library before I could finish it, and my second hold request is still making its way through the very long waiting line, so I’ve only read about 2/3 of it so far.


Your turn!

Please tell me how you vote — how you would answer my three questions above. I’m particularly curious about #2, because I suspect there is a wide range of opinions on whether or not to vote for books you haven’t read, and arguments to be made on either side.


13 Responses to “Goodreads Choice Awards: How Do You Decide?”

  1. Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

    For me it all depends on weather I’ve actually read the any of the books that have been nominated though *hangs head in shame* I may be guilty of voting for my favourite authors even if I haven’t read the books they’ve been nominated for. I’m horrible. If I have two books that I loved that are nominated I pick the one that gave me (this is the scientific term) “The feels”.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Berls said much the same, about voting for favorite authors, and I can see the sense in that. And “the feels” is a perfectly good reason to pick one book over another — and better than most!

  2. Berls

    I’m totally guilty of voting for books I haven’t read. I think in part because I hate that there’s all these books I haven’t read up for book of the year. Like Wtf, why aren’t the books I read on the list lol! But I only vote for books I haven’t read in the first round and only if I’ve read the author – it’s a solidarity, support vote. But after the first round, I feel like I need to accept that I just don’t get to vote. I still don’t vote in every category though, since I don’t just vote for books I think sound good. I need to have a solid basis for that unread vote! I know, I’m justifying 🙂
    Berls recently posted…Panic by J.A. Huss #reviewMy Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Goodreads doesn’t really post any rules for voting, so if your reasons make sense to you, they’re valid in my book! 🙂 I’m not trying to impose my own “rules” on anyone else — I’m genuinely interested in how all our reasoning differs. I can see the point of voting for a favorite author in the initial round, even if you haven’t read the actual book yet. I might give that some thought next year, along with Donna’s idea of favoring the less-popular or less-well-known of two or more candidates in the first round (assuming I read and liked either the book or the author.)

  3. Selah @ A Bibliophile's Style

    #1 – Wasn’t an issue for me

    #2 – I did end up voting for books I haven’t read in Middle Grade and Picture Books – I voted for books my children have read and loved, but I didn’t read myself.

    #3 – I do not vote in a category unless I (or my kids) have read and loved a book in that category.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Your children probably don’t have their own Goodreads accounts yet, so it makes sense to vote in the children’s categories for books they loved, even if you didn’t read it — essentially, you’re casting their vote on their behalf.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Thanks, Trish! I was surprised this year by how few of the books I’d read, even in my usual genres. It meant I didn’t end up voting in the finals for several genres I love.

  4. Donna @ OnDBookshelf

    #1 – In the first rounds I vote for the books that I really liked that I think may not make it to the next round because they are not by popular authors/ not well known. In the finals, I vote for my favorite of the ones left standing.
    #2 – No, I will only vote if I have read the book. It drove me crazy last year when the results came out and I knew some of the winners were chosen because of their being well known (and maybe the only book people voting had read all year).
    #3 – I only vote in the categories that I have read books from.

    Great survey!
    Donna @ OnDBookshelf recently posted…HoHoHo Read-a-thon ReviewMy Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Thanks, Donna! It seems like a lot of us are on the same page about not voting for books we haven’t read. But I like your idea of voting for the less popular/well-known books in the early rounds (when choosing between books you really like.)

  5. Kathryn

    Hmm I have been reflecting on this too so great post. I am tempted to vote for authors I love but haven’t read the book, but have chosen not to vote if I haven’t read anything in the category because I feel it doesn’t give a fair view once the finals are all in. In the categories I voted for this year only one book there I had read so I voted for those because I had enjoyed them. I think one category had two – Romance and it was easy because one was a 5 star read for me and one a 4 star.
    Kathryn recently posted…Every Dark Corner by Karen Rose. Character Profile of Agent Kate Coppola.My Profile

  6. Kaja

    I don’t vote for books I haven’t read, either, but I’m sometimes very tempted to do so. Like this year, I wanted to vote for Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, because I’d just read Six of Crows and LOVED it. But that would be unfair.

    I don’t think I’ve ever faced a dilemma of picking between favourites – somehow, I just know which book I liked best, without much conscious debate. But I like your criteria!
    Kaja recently posted…Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoMy Profile