[Diverse or Nah] My Thoughts on the Goodreads Awards

[Diverse or Nah] My Thoughts on the Goodreads Awards

So I know that this is already months late, and I don’t know why I was thinking about this now, but I’ve been looking at Goodreads and I keep seeing the winners of the 2019 Goodreads Awards and I’ve just been bothered by them lately.

Well even more than I was before, if that’s even possible.

I know I’m not the only one that could see the issue with this year’s winners, and I will make a disclaimer saying that I in no way, shape, or form have any negative thoughts about the authors that won personally. I even like some of these authors and have read their books, and love their books! That’s not the issue here, so please don’t think that’s my point.

Now since the awards has already finished and much of the discussion has died down, I don’t have a lot of tweets to show the readers’ point of views on the awards, but you can see above that the issue here is pretty clear.

In the entire process, there were barely any books either written by an Author of Color, or were primarily about other marginalized groups, as discussed in these quotes here. But 2019 was the year that I saw SO MANY of these amazing books come out, so much hype and marketing from the book blogging community, and yet… none of that seemed to translate on to Goodreads at all.

It may seem strange to you – as it does to me – but honestly, look at the past years awards and their nominations. There’s a clear pattern and this isn’t the first time that this has been brought up.

Just from this photo, I really can only see maybe one POC author? Ali Wong, who technically is a comedian, or more known as a comedian than a novelist. Then I see Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski representing the LGBT community, but correct me if I’m wrong.

Is that it?

I see Mexican & Gay Representation in Red, White & Royal Blue in the main character Alex. So hey that’s four books now.

And I guess if you want to throw in Deja in Pumpkinheads because she’s Black and Queer. Let’s do that.

But should we really have to “dig in” to what is diverse representation just to say “hey, it’s diverse!”. Because, come on. That’s not really diverse representation. That’s just checking the box, something that I’ve brought up before in another post.

While Goodreads and the publishing industry as a whole needs some serious revamping in order to truly give the proper marketing, promotion, and support that POC and other marginalized groups deserve, it seems like some people within the book blogging community took matters into their own hands. Which is freaking awesome. Kal @ Reader Voracious took it upon herself to create the Bookish Reader’s Choice Awards for 2019, which was so successful and I’m just so proud of her for taking on such a huge project like this! This awards system went based on OUR nominations, and showcased a lot of debut authors that didn’t get their chance to shine on Goodreads, despite having a lot of positive feedback throughout our community.

Kal also listed other awards that were created by book bloggers, such as for LGBTQ+ Representation and Authors of Color.

We also have bloggers that dedicate their blogs and space to talk about diversity in their reading, and take the time to interview authors of all representation to let us get to know them better, and learn more about their books, as well as gives bloggers a chance to speak about their own experiences.

Some examples include:

There are so many more, and these are just three bloggers that have done an amazing job at bringing diversity to the forefront.

All in all, I think that while we as a community have been doing a great job being more diverse, publishing companies need to do a better job too. I can’t tell them what to do, and while it seems like the majority of us have been constantly saying this needs to happen, we aren’t being heard as much as we like. So what can we do?

We can keep doing what we’re doing. Make our money talk, so to speak. Support more #OwnVoices books and authors. Do our due diligence in making sure that we are accurately showing what is being represented in our reviews, discussion posts, etc. Keep showing that these are the kinds of books and content that WE WANT.

And you know, keep reading. That is the most important part.

6 thoughts on “[Diverse or Nah] My Thoughts on the Goodreads Awards

  1. Thank you for drawing attention to this issue! As someone who is white, it wasn’t obvious to me at first, but seeing this brought to light it is disappointing to see Goodreads clearly sidelining diversity. As a reader who tries to pick up diverse reads, I was definitely disappointed by this year’s selection especially and now I know why! I’ll definitely be checking out more diverse choice awards for this coming year. Hopefully Goodreads and others can get their act together!

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  2. Since the Goodreads Choice awards were voted on by the readers, I wonder if it’s a matter of Goodreads not picking diverse books to vote on, or if the readers didn’t vote for them? I guess when the Bookshimmy Awards (which were nominated by readers) come out we can see if it makes a difference. I’m guessing it might have been the voters? because you got me interested in looking up the nominees and as far as I can tell, there was a lot more diversity in the first round than among the winners.

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  3. I’m embarrassed to admit that I never really paid attention to the diversity or inclusiveness of the Goodreads Choice Awards in previous years. I only voted in last year’s polls, but I was more than a little surprised by some of the nominations in this years’ poll, and decided in the end to not vote. Not just because of the lack of diversity and inclusiveness but it seems a little silly to me to be voting for the best book at the end of November and not give readers more time to finish reading some of the books on the list to vote fairly. Anyway, I totally agree with much of what you’ve written here. I thought Kal’s awards were awesome and I happily voted in that one 🙂 Great post, Leelynn!

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  4. I definitely think the GR Awards are more of a popularity contest than anything. I feel like I can’t vote (and normally don’t) in many of the categories simply because I’ve never read all the books in that particularly category. Sometimes I vote for the non-popular books simply because I want them to win even though it doesn’t happen often.

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  5. I agree with what some other people have said. Goodreads feels like more of a popularity contest, and when you get down to it, the big names in writing tend to be largely white (and often largely male), because they’re the ones that have been publishing for decades. So is it a surprise that Stephen King beat out all these other authors? Of course not. But I feel like we all already KNOW how amazing Stephen King is, and of course he’s releasing something every year.

    There was more diversity in the preliminary rounds, though. I was excited to see many more diverse books in the original nominations, but most of them didn’t make it to the next round. Where the breakdown happens, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the bigger, more household names winning out over the newer work. It’s an interesting thought, though.

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