Hello, readers! For the fourteenth challenge, we’re going to read a book with fewer than 500 ratings on Goodreads. That’s it! That’s the only guideline! For some people, that freedom is a joy. For others, it’s probably an instant anxiety: there are too many choices. I hear you, my spicy-brained friends, and I’ve got some ideas for you.
For this one, I’m going to tell you how to find low ratings books on Goodreads. (Please note: this does not mean books with low star ratings, but books that have only been rated 500 times or less. They can have any average star rating!) Now, these instructions assume that you use Goodreads. There are some book recs below for anyone in other situations!
Let’s shop your Want to Read shelf. After all, you’ve already established that you want to read these books! Let’s see if you have one that will work. Here’s how to do that on a computer or your smartphone.
On your web browser, navigate to “My Books” (at the top left of the page) and then click on “Want to Read” under Bookshelves. Now you’re going to sort by the number of ratings. To do this, scroll to the bottom of the page, just below the last book listing. There are two drop-down menus; one determines how many books are shown per page — it defaults to 30, and you can increase this number if you want to. The other is the one we want: the default sorting option is “Date added,” and you want to change it to “Num ratings.” Once the change takes effect, your “Want to Read” shelf will be sorted by the number of ratings, but it will go from highest to lowest! Click the arrow at the top of the “Num ratings” column and it will switch to lowest to highest.
On the Goodreads mobile app, the process is slightly different. Tap the “My Books” tab at the bottom, then select “Want to Read.” At the top, you’ll see the way the books are sorted. I believe these also default to “Date Added.” Tap on that and select “Number of Ratings.” Then tap the word “Reverse” at the top right and you’re all set!
My books with the lowest number of ratings tend to be books that haven’t come out yet, books that just came out, books that were self-published and haven’t caught on, books from academic presses, older books that aren’t still big, and cookbooks. I’ve chosen a few books with under 500 ratings, shopping all of my shelves (because I’m sure I’ve read some books you haven’t read). I have omitted books that aren’t out yet, as well as very recent releases.
Lovers’ Choice by Becky Birtha
This collection of 11 short stories for adults by children’s author Becky Birtha, originally published in 1987, explores Black lesbian girlhood and is beautifully written.
The Parker Grey Show by Kristen Buckley
In this “chick lit” from 2003, screenwriter Kristen Buckley gives us a twentysomething heroine just trying to make rent and pining for a TV doctor, who has to save her kidnapped best friend.
Vow of Celibacy by Erin Judge
Tired of her sexual conquests never turning into romance, Natalie takes a vow of celibacy and explores her recent relationships a lá High Fidelity.
The Moose That Roared by Keith Scott
You probably remember Rocky & Bullwinkle, the cartoon variety show from Jay Ward Productions. In this book, Keith Scott, who has voiced Bullwinkle since original actor Bill Scott (no relation) died, gives us the complete history of moose and squirrel.
Black Love Matters, edited by Jessica P Pryde
In this book of essays on Black love in the romance genre, Book Riot writer Pryde brings together contributors, including romance novelists Beverly Jenkins, Jasmine Guillory, Piper Huguley, and Kosoko Jackson, as well as academics Sarah Hannah Gomez and Carole V. Bell, among others.
Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography by Victoria Price
In this biography, Price’s daughter traces his six-decade career as well as his personal life, including his love of cooking, his art curation, and his work with the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.
Children’s and YA
A Whole Lot of Lucky by Danette Haworth
When Hailee’s family wins the lottery, she is excited to finally be able to get the things she wants. No, needs. But her parents’ decisions about how to spend their newfound fortune don’t line up with her expectations, and suddenly she’s in a new (private) school and everything is different.
Kenzie Kickstarts a Team by Kit Rosewater and Sophie Escabasse
Each book of the lower middle grade Derby Daredevils series focuses on a different team member. In this first installment, Kenzie dreams of playing roller derby, but she has to put together a team of at least five in order to even try out.
Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding
In YA and romance author Amy Spalding’s second novel, 2013’s Ink is Thicker Than Water, Kellie feels out of place in her family, but a job at her stepdad’s tattoo parlor might help change that.
This book is indispensable in my kitchen! The dry seasoning recipe alone is worth the price of the book, and there are dozens of other amazing recipes for meat, vegetables, and desserts.
Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking by Cheryl Day
Rioter Susie Dumond told me about this book, and it’s now the one I turn to, even for recipes I already had a go-to version of. (Chocolate cake? Hers is richer. Cornbread? Perfection.)
The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis
This is more than a cookbook; it’s a history of Palestine and a window into the food, which is, of course, the culture. I’ve only cooked one recipe from this book, but I’ve read it like I would read a memoir or anthology.
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Happy reading, from my shelves to yours!