Goodreads Wrapped: Identity, Statistics, and the Chaos of a Yearly Reading Challenge
By Maze Laverty
It’s that week again. The time of the year everyone’s social media explodes with analytics from their friends and acquaintances based on their yearly music consumption. You think you know yourself, until your phone reveals to you that you actually listened to that one horrifically embarrassing song way more than you thought. Your crush asks to see your wrapped and you laugh nervously and blame the algorithm while trying to change the subject. How dare Spotify just essentialize you like that? But we love that, we eat that shit up.
This year, my focus of attention was on Goodreads (which, for those who aren’t privy to the fact that Goodreads is a subsidiary of Amazon, now you know), familiar to many book lovers as a social cataloguing platform that allows you to network based on the literature you consume. When I first got into Goodreads, it was because my previous system of a pen and paper list of all the books I had ever read was becoming increasingly disorganized, plus Goodreads has pretty pictures of book covers. I soon realized it is a great way to decide whether to read a book I come across in the library or bookstore (nix if it doesn’t have more than 3.5 stars, a depressing reality I know, but the need to quantify things in this world is unbearable). My favourite feature of all is the “Want to Read” list, where you can store all the titles that are recommended for you, so you never have to wonder what to read next.
This year, my partner and I decided it would be cute to do the yearly reading challenge. He decided he would read 30 books in a year, and naturally I matched his 30, because my toxic masculinity couldn’t let him read more than me, even though I know I am a slower reader. It’s now November 30, and I have 7 books left to read before the end of 2022. A helpful popup tells me I only have to read 1.5 books a week to reach my goal. AHHHH.
It feels like a bit too late in the game to adjust my goal. It’s still doable. Will it be fun? I don’t know. But I have a digital reminder of my failure that I have to look at every day. Sometimes I find myself reading so fast, just for the sake of finishing, that I don’t really get to spend time with the book. What I really like to do when I’m reading is mull over every word, nodding my head emphatically to the empty room, my dog confused at my unexplained gestures. Why I am choosing to relive the trauma of summer reading programs circa 2006 is completely beside me. I get shivers remembering staring out my bedroom window, watching as my sister and neighbors frolicked outside while I did a voluntary book assignment in August. And for what? Some pizza? No, there’s more to it than that. All this has got me thinking, why do we force ourselves to read? And then I remembered, it’s for my social media analytics. It’s for my identity.
In this quantify-it-or-it-didn’t-happen world of ours, I need hard evidence of my value as a human. And I need that information to be accessible on a whim to anyone who is interested in it.
So, without further ado, looking back on a year with nostalgia, and in hopes to commemorate and pass on some of the bests—My 2022 Goodreads Wrapped!
Favorite Book: Annabel by Kathleen Winter [It’s Canadian, it’s gender, it’s heart-wrenching].
Top Genres: Non-fiction, Trans, Sci-Fi, Poetry, Canadian [weirdly enough I read two books about economics and that is a hell of a lot for one year].
Number of Pages Read: 6,232 pages [not to mention that I am in the middle of legitimately 15 other books, not counting articles I have read for class or pleasure].
Most Surprising Read: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver [tragic because the narrator is just so deeply flawed. So well written].
Most Exciting Read: Piranesi by Susanna Clark [was so exciting I got sunburn from sitting in the park too long].
Most Disturbing: How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell [hint: it’s not just your money that you spend, but giving things space in your brain takes away from your own free thought].
Gayest: Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom [nothing says homosexual like critical social analysis love story]!
Weirdest: Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval [Grotesque in a you-can’t-stop-looking kind of way].
Your Vibe: quirky, sensual, very gay, escapist, radical, depressed, witchy academic
Checks out. All this to say: did I enjoy reading all these books? Yes and no. Would I have read less if I wasn’t doing the reading challenge? Yes. Am I taking a break now that I’ve met my reading goal? Are you crazy? Can’t shake off internalized capitalism after one reflective article!
Am I addicted to Goodreads because it is social media that feels “better” because it’s about books? Abso-tootin’-lutely. Follow me! I’d LOVE to see what you are reading. Help me to reach my goal of making my “Want to Read” list seven times longer than my “Read” list!
You think I’m kidding.
On behalf of Soliloquies, I’d love to thank our spectacular web content team: Alessia, Yael and Santiago! This is our last article of 2022. Come back in January for storytelling, analysis, book reviews, and more! And don’t forget to check out issue 27.1, which will be available at our launch on December 14, 2022 at La Marche à Côté. Email us or DM @soliloquies.concordia on Instagram.
If you are celebrating winter holidays, stay safe, eat lots of good food and tell your people you love them. If you aren’t celebrating, stay safe, eat lots of good food, and tell your people you love them. Everyone: find some joy with a book on a snowy afternoon. Do it for you.