Have you checked out the 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards nominees for Best Romance? This year there are 20 books nominated as the year’s best romance book of 2023. The fate of those nominees is left up to readers as to which title will be crowned Best Romance. While there are several amazing books nominated this year, I think a few stellar reads were left off the list. In today’s episode of the She Reads Romance Books Podcast I’m discussing the best romance books of 2023 that got snubbed by the Goodreads Choice Awards. Tune in to see if you agree with me!
Episode 15: 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards Snubs: Which Books Should Be Nominated for Best Romance But Weren’t
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Books Mentioned in this Episode:
- Fourth Wing
- Iron Flame
- Divine Rivals
- Check & Mate
- The Right Move
- A Long Time Coming
- Love, Theoretically
- Practice Makes Perfect
- Things We Hide from the Light
- Yours Truly
- In the Likely Event
- Pucking Around
- The Long Game
- Happy Place
- Behind the Net
- The Graham Effect
- Out on a Limb
- How to Say I Do
- Queen Charlotte
- Exes & Os
- Highly Suspicious & Unfairly Cute
- The Love Wager
- Right Man Right Time
- Done & Dusted
Episode Show Notes:
It’s mid-November so you know that means that it’s time for every reader to come out of the wood work to vote and share what they really think about the Goodreads Choice Awards. And this year just like any year, the Awards, especially for Best Romance, are kicking up some controversy and I wouldn’t expect anything less.
I for one think it’s great that there is even an award for best books. Authors work really hard on their craft so I like that the Goodreads Choice Awards can recognize that effort. But of course, nothing is ever perfect and politics, money and influence always have to ruin things or taint things so it’s also a toss up about what to really think of them because they can’t ever make everyone happy.
But before I get into that and the romance books that I think were snubbed in this year’s list of nominees for Best Romance I’m going to take a look at the list overall.
At first I was like WTF where is Fourth Wing?! Of course it had to be nominated since it’s been a bestseller for weeks so I took a breath and realized that it was nominated in a brand new category for this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards and that is the category for Best Romantasy.
It’s up against not one, not two but three books by Jennifer L. Armentrout including A Soul of Ash and Blood and Fall of Ruin and Wrath and a lot of other great books so check it out there or on my list of the 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominees for Best Romantasy on the blog.
I actually like the creation of this category because there are so many books that can fit into it and I think it’s only going to be a category that continues to grow, so kudos for this move Goodreads. Yet I can understand how some readers think it’s a bit much to have three fantasy categories, especially when they decided to remove other categories like children’s and middle grade novels, poetry and graphic novels. We will see how that all plays out.
Interestingly enough, Iron Flame won’t be eligible for the 2024 Goodreads Choice Awards since it was released just days before these awards went live making it only eligible for this year but I’m sure we will get another book in the Fourth Wing series that might make an appearance.
Divine Rivals was another book that I was upset not to see on the list, nor was it on the Best Romantasy list but alas it is on the Best Young Adult Fantasy list. Phew! I already put my vote in for that one.
And then I was happy to see that Ali Hazelwood’s latest release, Check & Mate was nominated but you’ll find that in the Best Young Adult Fiction category. So search around folks, that’s the message here because you can find books anywhere if they cross categories.
I was initially concerned that those three books were snubbed but nope, just in different categories.
As for the actual list of nominees for Best Romance – I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I have read 9 of the 20 nominees and am currently reading two more (The Right Move by Liz Tomforde and A Long Time Coming by Meghan Quinn).
Five of the nine books I read are include on my own list of best romance novels of 2023 because they are 5 star reads for me and those include Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood, Practice Makes Perfect by Sarah Adams, Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez, Things We Hide from the Light by Lucy Score, and In the Likely Event by Rebecca Yarros. So, I obviously don’t take any issue with those nominations and from their Goodreads ratings it seems like others really liked them too.
Now one book on the list I will admit that I put Pucking Around on my DNF pile and The Long Game I did finish but really didn’t enjoy so I was surprised to see them on the list, especially the later since it’s Goodreads ratings really weren’t that high. Which brings me to question, how are the nominees really selected anyway? This has always been a mystery to me especially when I see books where my first reaction is Huh? How did that one get on there?
Who really knows? I’ve got to say. If you click on their link for rules and eligibility (which I do because I’m a nerd and want to know) All they share is that they “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. Plus they give dates that a book must be published between.”
All those limited words tell me is that other than publication date parameters and a rating of at least 3.5 it’s a mystery as to how these books make the list. Because if it’s really about popularity or most liked books, I’d think books with a high overall rating plus a high number ratings and review numbers would dominate the nominee list because those indicate that a lot of readers liked it, but that’s not really the case with all the nominees this year.
Of course, Emily Henry’s latest, Happy Place, deserved a spot because its ratings are off the charts high with an overall rating of 4.07 and 545,386 total ratings. So, yeah no brainer to see her latest release on the list yet again as they are every year.
So if we were to look at other romance books of 2023 that had high ratings, some snubs that come to mind are Behind the Net by Stephanie Archer which has over 52,006 ratings or even Elle Kennedy’s latest, The Graham Effect, which is gaining popularity, has a 4.12 rating with 22,392 ratings and that’s for just being out less than a month before the awards went live. I haven’t read either of these books but I bring those up because they have more ratings than at least two of the books on the nominee list.
The big issue though with this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards and pretty much every year is the lack of diversity. Where are the authors of color, the diverse storylines, the indie authors, you name it.
I think this is an important issue to raise as diversity can always be done better. I really think that one of the biggest snubs for this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards was Hannah Bonam-Young. She is an indie author whose books really appealed and did fantastic with readers, so much so that her books have been picked up by a publisher I believe.
Her latest release, Out on a Limb, would have been my choice as a nominee given the great storyline, terrific writing and the diversity of characters with limb difference. It has a 4.42 overall rating with 26,791 ratings and almost 5K reviews which is pretty impressive.
Another author I would like to have seen or who I think deserves more recognition in general is Tai Bauer. He’s a male romance author who writes the best gay romance and this year his release, How to Say I Do made my list of best romance novels of 2023 though I get why it didn’t make this list as it only has about 5K ratings.
I actually expected to see Queen Charlotte by Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes on the list of nominees even though I haven’t read this book given the popularity of the book and the show but nope. There is a complete lack of historical romance on this year’s nominee list as well as authors of color.
I didn’t read Exes and Os by Amy Lea but that book was on my potential nominees list as even that book had more ratings than some of the nominees and would have improved the diversity of books and authors for this year’s awards. Talia Hibbert’s Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute was nominated in the Young Adult Fiction category at least.
Other snubs that I thought would make the list is Lynn Painter’s adult romance, The Love Wager. It is a super cute romance with over 42K ratings about Hallie and Jack who have a one night stand but she escapes their hotel room the next morning without a word. They end up meeting or finding each other again through a dating app and decide to become friends and help each other out with their dates while of course falling for each other.
I was happy to see that Meghan Quinn finally got some recognition because she’s been crushing it lately and really churning out the books. She could have had two books nominated if you’re going off reader ratings because Right Man, Right Time has a rating of 4.12 with a total of 55,149 ratings and over 4K reviews. Pretty impressive but I’m sure she’s super psyched with her nomination for A Long Time Coming. Her books have been hit or miss with me lately but I really enjoyed Right Man, Right Time which is a fake relationship with a strong heroine and hot hockey player in her Vancouver Agitators series.
Neither of these make the list more diverse however I do recognize. Lastly another book that seemed to be super popular this year on #Booktok and came in with high ratings is Done and Dusted by Lyla Sage. It was just OK for me personally but this could have upped the indie representation plus it has an overall rating of 4.0 with 41,523 total ratings and 6,358 reviews. I can understand if Sage is feeling a bit snubbed.
To appease readers and potentially help increase diversity, I wish that Goodreads would bring back the ability to write-in a nomination. They stopped that last year but I loved the opportunity in the past because it definitely gave other books a chance and it truly felt like it gave readers a voice. And let’s face it, if the entire goal of the Goodreads Choice Awards is for readers to pick the best book of the year, then the readers should be able to truly express their opinion, including voting for books that they think were overlooked. So Goodreads, please bring that back for 2024.
I’m going to wrap up the year highlighting my own list of best romance books of 2023 so stayed tuned for that episode in just a few weeks but if you have an opinion on the 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards list of nominees or have a book that you felt was snubbed this year, share in the comments below. I’d love to hear it.
In the meantime, if there is a nomination that you loved, go and vote! The opening round of voting ends Nov 26 with the final round running from Nov 28-Dec 3, and the winner announced on December 7.
Thanks for listening to my thoughts and opinions. Happy reading!
- Best Romance Novels of 2023
- 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominees for Best Romance
- 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominees for Best Romantasy
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