Reading is a gamble.
Anyone who has suffered through the plodding romance novel or the muddled mystery knows not all books are a good fit to their reader. What you don’t read in your limited leisure time is as important as what you do.
One website literally lets you ask the question, “What should I read next?” Put in a book you loved, and it gives you a list of rcommended titled. Here’s a list based on Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and another based on Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key.
Slightly more complex are Your Next Read, which lets you add your own recommendations, and Whichbook, which gives you choices: “happy” versus “sad,” “easy” versus “demanding,” and “no sex” versus “lots of sex,” for example. Some of theses services connect to social media sites, including Facebook or book-specific Goodreads. (Goodreads, which connects your profile to other readers, offers recommendations and lets you recommend books to people on your friends list.)
Immensely popular Amazon.com, like other web-based shopping services for books and ebooks, offers recommendations. Of course, services that use an algorithm based on a customer’s buying history require some maintenance; that romance novel you bought for your mother’s Christmas stocking or that cookbook you bought for your brother could throw everything off, unless you venture into your browsing history and delete them.
The world of new media offers other, slightly less expected sources of quality suggestions. Its fast pace suggests otherwise, but Twitter is a great place for quality suggestions. Explore hashtags, such as #fridayreads or #bookrec. Following the feeds of libraries, publishing houses, and authors can also yield interesting and diverse recommendations. Popular reviewers share their lists, too: The New York Times, The New Yorker, and NPR, for example.
Of course, the human element remains an enduring source of discovery. When in doubt, ask a librarian!