Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On how to find book recommendations

Image result for book recommendations cartoon
Not all bookstores are as good about throwing book recommendations at you as I am.
It can be really difficult to find good books to read - especially if you don’t quite know what you’re in the mood for next. Here are a few suggestions for where you can find excellent book recommendations:
  1. Friends/family - This is the first place I would go for book recommendations. Often, your friends and family have a good idea of what you tend to like and they can offer some interesting recommendations. Downside: Sometimes, your friends and family will be into genres that you have zero interest in or they won’t be readers.
  2. Librarians - The next step up is to ask a librarian. Librarians work at libraries because they love books, so they’ll definitely have a lot of interesting recommendations. They’ll also be very aware of what books are at the library - so they can suggest a book and you can go get it immediately. Downside: While you can probably tell the librarians a few books you like and get some good ideas in response, chances are that you don’t know your public librarians well enough that they’ll know what exactly you like.
  3. Teachers - This is an excellent way to get non-fiction book recommendations. If you’re taking a class that really interests you, talk to the teachers about what books you can read outside of class for more information. Not only does it help you build a better relationship with your teachers, but they may actually own a copy of the book they recommend and they might lend it to you. Downside: If you aren’t currently in school, then this is a difficult one to do. Some schools post suggested reading lists that may help fix this problem, though.
  4. Book blogs - This can be a helpful resource if you don’t have a good idea of what you want to read. I read a lot of book blogs, and most of them offer either book reviews or lists of book to read -often structured in comparison with books you may have already read (i.e. “If you liked X, here are 10 books you’ll like”).  Book Riot is a good blog for non-bloggers to start getting book recommendations, but feel free to branch out from there. Every book blog will try to press new books on you - just find what you like and which blogs tend to suggest books you like and you’ll soon have endless recommendations. Downside: This can make your TBR explode - book bloggers recommend books faster than you can read them - trust me.
  5. Goodreads Recommendations - Goodreads recommendations page both intrigues and disgusts me. I love browsing to see what sorts of books Goodreads thinks I’ll like (based on books I previously rated), but sometimes, I don’t understand the connection. I’ll often be irritated by the recommendations it gives (“Another Stephen King? Duh.”) However, the few times I’ve read something that Goodreads suggested to me, I’ve been delightfully surprised. Maybe it’s time I started relying on this more.
  6. #Askalibrarian - I’ve written about this before, but I don’t know that I can ever fully do justice to this wonderful resource. Every Thursday, librarians respond to your tweets about what you should read. If you don’t want to ask for yourself (or if you don’t know what you’re looking for), simply browse other people’s questions and suggestions and maybe something will stand out to you.
  7. Websites - If you’re really getting desperate, there are plenty of websites out there to give you book suggestions. is a fun one to start on - you simply enter a book you enjoyed and the website gives you a list of similar books. There are a few issues though - there are plenty of books missing from their database and it’s often really flimsy connections (“These books are both humorous!”) If you want more generic recommendations, Olmenta may be for you - the website presents books to you that users recommend to anyone.
  8. Book displays - If you’re still lost after all that, you may be someone who doesn’t know what you want. It may be time to simply dive in and hope for the best. Most libraries and bookstores have book displays, where there are tables full of books within a certain theme or with a certain cover. Many also have a “staff picks” shelf (if you’re nervous to actually talk to the librarian or bookseller). I’ve found many wonderful books by picking them up from these displays. If you’re feeling more adventurous, many local libraries and bookstores do blind date with a book, where you can pick out a mystery book based solely on its description. You can also purchase a mystery book online.

How do you get book recommendations? What books would you recommend to readers who are looking for something new to read?

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