This post is inspired by my recent impromptu decision to pick up a book that sounded exactly like the kind I would hate (maybe even mock) because I needed a new eBook, it happened to be available to check out without a waiting list, and a colleague whose recommendations I trust gushed about the series. And wow, am I loving it. The premise and the cover completely turned me off (I know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but come on, we all do it), but I’m so glad I decided to give the book a chance. Thank you, fellow librarian!
One of my favorite parts of being a librarian is reader’s advisory, or talking with a reader about books she liked and recommending similar titles or authors. I’d like to think everyone gets their favorite recommendations from their librarians, but I know that’s not always the case.
The most common source I’ve heard others cite for recommendations is friends and family members. That’s probably true for me, too, though my go-to people to ask for suggestions of what to read next are my co-workers (friends and librarians). After that, people often turn to online sources, either because they don’t want to talk to a librarian or they don’t have the time to go to the library. (Though we’ll do reader’s advisory via an email form, chat, or by phone at my library.) I’ll admit to using these other sources sometimes, too. If you have a Goodreads account, you can see recommendations for books you might like based on the books on your “read” and “to-read” shelves. Usually these are books I’ve already got on my radar, but the more suggestions I see for a certain title, the more that title will stick with me. Amazon (which also owns Goodreads) has a similar “frequently bought together” feature if you search for a certain book, though I find this to be the least helpful recommendation source. It’s particularly frustrating if you’re looking at a book that was made into a movie, because then Amazon will just recommend a bunch of other books that were also made into movies, with little (if any) filter as far as genre, writing style, pacing, etc.
A fun tool I use that I think doesn’t get the recognition it deserves is NoveList Plus. This is a database that my library (and I think most public libraries) subscribes to that allows you to search for genre keywords; title, author, and series read-alikes; themes; target audience; and more. They recently added a feature for audiobooks so you can search for recommendations based on narrator preferences and even the length of the book. I use this a lot to tackle reader’s advisory questions when the patron asks about an author or genre I don’t read a lot of.
I’m curious, though, where do you get your recommendations? Do you have certain go-to people or websites?