Posted in Book Talk

The opening round of Goodreads Choice Awards is live! (with rule changes and NO MORE WRITE INS?!)

Hey y’all! Whether you love it, hate it, or are indifferent, the Goodreads Choice Awards have officially begun for 2021! Set your calendars and/or hop on over there now to get your early picks in! Be aware that this year, there have been some changes…. and they won’t all be popular. 😐

If you’re not familiar, this is a yearly nomination on the site Goodreads for the best book released each year in different categories. They start in November each year, so the release time-frame is Nov 18, 2020 to Nov 16, 2021 — that way, hopefully, people have had time to read them!

Here’s how Goodreads describes the process of choosing the titles nominated:

We analyze statistics from the millions of books added, rated, and reviewed on Goodreads to nominate 20 books in each category. Opening round official nominees must have an average rating of 3.50 or higher at the time of launch. A book may be nominated in no more than one genre category, but can also be nominated in the Debut Novel category. Only one book in a series may be nominated per category. An author may receive multiple nominations within a single category if he or she has more than one eligible series or more than one eligible stand-alone book.

While this sounds fine and dandy, there are definitely a few issues with the process, plus a lot of changes this year!

A new issue this year… NO WRITE INS?!

HOLD UP Y’ALL!! There used to be a really excellent line in the blurb above that said “Write-in votes are also accepted during the Opening Round so readers can vote for exactly the book they want.” Well, that’s not an option this year!

According to the rule changes:

Write-In Votes: Only a tiny fraction of the overall votes were write-in votes so we are retiring this option in 2021. All nominees will be based on what Goodreads readers have added, rated, and reviewed this year.”

Rule Changes Post by Goodreads

I really loved this, because even if a book only got one nomination, from me, I wanted that author to know that one person chose their book over all the others. Plus the idea that I could change it was really nice. Even if it was only an illusion, the potential was there.

And now it’s gone! Am I the only one who’s sad about this? They make such a fuss about how this award is the only one “chosen by the readers” and yet the readers truest chance to choose is missing….

Only 2 rounds!!

Usually there are 3 or 4 rounds of the Choice Awards, with the opening round including write-ins and a bunch of early picks. These slowly get whittled down to a list of 10, then 5, then the end! This year, since there are no write-ins to tally from the first round, it’s been WAY simplified: the first round has the top 20 books, then the next (final) round has the top 10 from that list and the winner is chosen out of those ones. I

Category changes

An FYI on category updates:

Science, technology, food, and cookbooks are now in the Nonfiction category… so we probably won’t see any science, technology, food, or cookbooks in the running. 😐

Picture books are also now included in the Children’s & Middle Grade Category.

Lack of variety

In years past, there has been a lot of criticism for the lack of variety in books chosen due to the way algorithms on the site work and the inherent lopsided-ness where great books might not have the marketing power of bigger authors. This leads to the same authors winning year after year after year, when surely there are other people who are writing well in those categories! The rule change to have an author only nominated in one category (excluding the debut category) might help with this, although Rick Riordan below shows how that can still be an issue.

Another aspect of the lack of variety has been a lack of books by or about non-white people. I think this year we see a bit more of that which is fabulous, though that might be reflective of what people are reading due to the conversations that have sprung up about this in the past year or two. Either way, a welcome change!

No shade to these excellent authors, but maybe Rick Riordan owning the MG category for a decade isn’t necessary

Books aren’t announced ahead of time

Look, there are some people who read 250 books a year (YES, there actually are, I know, it’s unfathomable to me, what a life!), but there are also people who read 100 or 10 or 2 books a year. It would be super helpful and exciting to get a list of what books are expected to be up for the Choice Awards even a month before it launches so we could read more of the books!

I run into this issue often: I’m looking through the category, and I’ve read one book, have 2 others on my TBR, and have never heard of the rest. What a shame! If they posted some of these early, I could have read more of the ones I was interested in to have an actual comparison. Voting for the one book I read doesn’t feel like a good representation of the winner, and I think this is how it gets so lopsided sometimes (particularly with authors of a popular series). And if the one book I read was one I didn’t like? Well… crap.

A 3.50 rating when it launches?

I have questions about this rule, I’ll admit. A lot of books do have ratings before it’s officially released, whether due to ARC reviews or eager-beaver readers who rate it 5 stars before ever reading it. But this again skews it towards books and authors and publishing companies with the money to have that support of a pre-release marketing option. I’m not really clear if this rating has to occur the day of the book’s publication, within a week of publication, or what.

The nominees!

As always, there were a bunch of books in the nominations that I wanted to read but haven’t yet, or read but only wrote a short review and didn’t post it here. I also realized I read a lot more romance than I thought, because that category had the most that I had read! I’m a sucker for love. 😊 A lot of these titles were in my Fast Forward Friday titles, which admittedly aren’t always as good as I hope when I read them.

Nominated titles I’ve reviewed!

Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

ARC Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Review: The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Review: How To Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams

ARC Review: Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente (11/9)

Review: In Love & Pajamas by Catana Chetwynd

Review: If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

ARC Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Review: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean


Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

2 thoughts on “The opening round of Goodreads Choice Awards is live! (with rule changes and NO MORE WRITE INS?!)

  1. Hi! I am disappointed that the write ins have gone. & I think combing picture books with other children’s books is very short sighted. They are the readers of the future! If the reason is that they are not popular categories – Poetry has survived (nothing against Poetry – I read poetry myself. But it is less popular than the Picture Book & Poetry Category.


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