So I read a lot. Like, multiple books in a weekend a lot. And one of the problems with reading a lot is that I am constantly in need of new things to read.
Like most voracious readers, I use Goodreads to keep track of what I’ve read and what I want to read, browse the Listopia lists, and snoop around on friends’ (and strangers’) pages to find out what they’re reading, and if I should read those books too.
I also read a lot of book blogs, and talk to friends and family about what they’re reading or want to read. But it’s often the case that they have different reading tastes than I do; my dad, for example, refuses to read anything but non-fiction, so he’s not the best resource if I’m looking for the next great young adult fantasy novel.
So what do you do if you’ve exhausted all of your usual resources? Take to the internet, of course. There are a number of websites out there devoted to book recommendations, and they are great places to find books you might not have heard of otherwise. Here are a few to check out:
Your Next Read. This site relies on its users to provide recommendations and determine whether one book is a good match for another, meaning that some books you enter will have more recommendations than others.
I like this site’s visual nature; the interactive map is fun to look at, and allows you to agree or disagree on recommendations, if you’ve read both books in question. Additionally, the site allows you to filter results based on genre, age level, or whether you want to include other books from the same author.
The site features a description and reviews from Amazon, as well as a link to purchase the book from that site. Goodreads users can link their accounts, providing access to more lists and more information about recommended books.
What Should I Read Next? This is a very simple site; enter in a book you’ve read and enjoyed, and you’re presented with a LONG list of other books to try. Next to each title is an Info/Buy button; this brings you directly to Amazon, where you can read reviews and purchase the book.
The recommendations are based on the collective taste of users; the more often books are listed together, the stronger their associations. I like this site particularly because of how many recommendations they offer; some of the titles may seem to have come from left field, but because of the large number of recommendations, I’m guaranteed to come away with at least a few new books to check out.
Whichbook. This site offers a different take on book recommendations; rather than entering in a title or author you like and receiving recommendations based on that information, users choose book characteristics in which they’re interested, and receive book matches based on that. Readers choose up to four different characteristics, and use the sliders to indicate, for example, where they would like a book to fall on the spectrum between funny and serious. Whichbook then offers best, good, and fair matches based on these criteria.
Readers can also look for book recommendations based on characteristics of plot, character, and setting, or browse through lists created by Whichbook staff or guests. Book recommendations come with links to purchase the book or borrow it from a library; the site is based in the UK, though, so those of us not in the UK are directed to WorldCat rather than a local library.
Bookish. This is the newest addition to book recommendation community, opening to the public a few days ago. Bookish is different from other book recommendation sites in that it was created and funded by three major publishing houses; this has both advantages and disadvantages.
Although books from more than just those three publishers are included on the site, books from smaller or independent publishers are left out. The site does have interesting editorial content, including pieces written by authors that you won’t find anywhere else; other than this, the features are fairly standard. Users can search for books and authors, read reviews, see lists featuring the book, and purchase the book via links to outsider retailers.
The recommendation aspect, though, was supposed to be superior to other book recommendation sites, due to improved metadata, the site’s own recommendation engine, and some actual influence from publishers. That being said, I was fairly unimpressed with the recommendations I received when I tested the site. Users only get four or five recommendations, which can be problematic when you’ve already read the majority of the recommendations (as was the case when I tried the site). Additionally, even when recommendations weren’t books I’d already read, they were books I’d heard of and was planning to read, resulting in no new recommendations for me.
As I said before, the site is very new, so I expect that book recommendations will improve with time. For now, the editorial content is worth checking out (and is, in itself, a way to discover authors you might like), and in the future, perhaps I’ll give the recommendation aspect another try.
So the next time you’re looking for a new book to read and you haven’t had any luck with family, friends, or Goodreads, give one of these sites a try-maybe you’ll find your next favorite book.