Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday Thingers: Recommendations

This week we have another interesting topic from Boston Bibliophile for the Tuesday Thingers group:

Do you use LT's recommendations feature? Have you found any good books by using it? Do you use the anti-recommendations, or the "special sauce" recommendations? How do you find out about books you want to read?

OK, once again, the short answer to the first question would be, "No, I don't." And until today, I'd never even looked at the anti-recommendations. Is that the "unsuggester"? And I'm not sure what the "special sauce" recommendations are, or how to get to them, so I guess that means I haven't used that feature either.

But even though I've never used it and don't really understand how it works, when I looked at the "unsuggester" this morning, the first title it "unsuggested" was Shopaholic Ties the Knot, by Sophie Kinsella. And since it's probably a safe bet that that's one of the last books I'd ever read, I guess maybe the unsuggester works pretty well.

As for finding out about books I might want to read, that's never really been a problem for me. I want to read everything! No seriously, I do usually have the opposite problem – finding too many books that sound really interesting.

I stay pretty tuned in to the book publishing world, so I get recommendations from all over. I read several "professional" reviews – primarily the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, and the Times Literary Supplement. I also get suggestions now and then from the New Yorker, although they seem to be much more political than literary these days. And I've used the recommendations at Amazon.com, as well as their "Listmania" feature – I love making lists and reading lists made by other people.

Of course, I also love browsing bookstores and libraries. Libraries are an especially good place to find new titles and discover new authors. And there are a few discussion groups I follow on Yahoo, mainly for whodunits. Oh, and I also check Shelf Awareness every few days for recently issued titles and other book news.

But I think lately I've started relying mostly on reviews I find on the various book blogs I read. I'm finding more and more these days that my fellow bloggers do a much better job of telling me what I want to know about a book than the "professionals" of the reviewing world. I suppose that's why so many of the pros are so negative about the blogging phenomenon. They may think they see the writing on the wall – and they may be right.


  1. I'm with you--other people to whom I relate are my best recommendation-creators. I stalk my friends' newly added and newly reviewed books on LT for ideas, myself.
    BTW, I think the books thekoolaidmom's mother might have been thinking about were probably Mary Daheim's B&B books. Just in case you really wanted to look into a new cozy, humorous mystery series.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree that other readers are the best source of recommendations...provided that you find and connect with other readers whose taste is similar. My good bibliophile friends have rarely led me astray...but I'm still trying to forgive them for making me read the Twilight books.

  3. I agree with you. I'd much rather read a book recommended by a blogger. You get a more honest opinion when the person isn't being paid to sell someones book.

  4. This is why I love (and simultaneously despair at) having a whole network of book bloggers. So many recommendations! And usually they're good. I've added so many books to my TBR list since I started putting my blog "out there" and really paying attention to others'.

  5. I love the network of book blogs for recommendations as well!

  6. By the way, I've nominated you for a blog award here!

  7. I think it is obvious where I get most of my reading suggestions -- YOU!

  8. The Unsuggester would be truly helpful if it could warn us off from books we might consider reading. That's probably too much to expect out of technology though. Wouldn't it be nice that when we pick up a dog of a book if there was someone one out there who shouted, "No! Put that book down! It's a waste of your precious reading time."?

    I wholeheartedly agree that blogger recommendations are the best.

  9. I think LT got rid of the 'special sauce' recommendations feature. I'm with you on getting recommendations from fellow bloggers. The problem with that is, I can't ever read fast enough to keep up with all the great books they suggest.

  10. I'm finding more and more these days that my fellow bloggers do a much better job of telling me what I want to know about a book than the "professionals" of the reviewing world.

    My sentiments exactly. I the the "pro"s have agendas that they are pushing. If something or someone doesn't fit in their little sandbox, then they stomp it down. Many of the "reviews" I've read are either beatifications or condemnations, not real reviews. I think with a fellow blogger you might not get the masters-degree-in-writing wit as from the pros, but at least you get honesty.


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