Goodreads is the best social media app. Sorry flickr or medium or whatsapp or whodunnit or whatnot, but Goodreads is so good it should be called Greatreads. Weather Channel app? Uh, looks like a big front of fuck you is rolling in—Left on Read stans Goodreads as the best app of all time.
What other app lets me subtly perform my own wokeness (why yes I did just recently finish How to Be an Antiracist, and of course I gave it 5 stars) while judging others for their hollow performity or failure to even try (The Help: The Book???). And what other piece of technology can give me a sense of what percent of a book I’ve gotten through—something that, before the Goodreadaissance, I had to figure out by flipping to the back of the book every five minutes. Sure it might be owned by Bad Bad Daddy Bezos, but as far as I can tell Goodreads hasn’t influenced an American election or been a Trojan Horse for Chinese spyware.
Goodreads is an app that reminds me how many of my acquaintances are over-achieving nerds who like to announce how many books they want to read in a year to strangers. But it can simultaneously tell me how many of those dweebs are also willing to broadcast to that same audience that they have thoroughly enjoyed Jock Blocked (“She can’t let him score…”).
At Goodreads’ best, it promotes an almost unqualified good (reading). And even its worst elements (reducing the complex nuances of a piece of art down to a five-star rating system; the incessant gamification of everyday activities) aren’t the worst examples that we’ve seen from apps such as Robinhood or Yelp. With Goodreads, I don’t have to like other people’s activity. And I don’t have to worry about whether other people have liked the fact that at some point I intend to read The New Jim Crow (yes I know I’m at least five years past due on this). Better yet, I can shout into the newsfeed void that, yes, I have read all seven Harry Potter books, and also yes, I think they’re excellent—all without having to go on Twitter to catch the latest updates from the TERF-war front.
At the end of the day, Goodreads is all that I want out of a social media app: A nerd’s hot-or-not ranking of all of literature, combined with a way to judge the people who voluntarily give their time and money to the Ayn Rand estate. And that’s a beautiful thing.