One of the best things about the bookish community—whether we’re on Twitter, Goodreads (Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction did a wonderful post just a couple of weeks ago), blogs, or other social media—is that we can recommend books to one another. But there are some pitfalls, too, so I thought it might be fun to discuss!
Imagine the following two scenarios.
Friend A: So I absolutely loved this book. You should read it.
Friend A: Because it’s soooo incredibly. I love it so much because -reasons here-
Friend B: This book you like makes me thing of this other book. Have you heard of it?
You: No. What’s it about?
Friend B: -describes book-
Which do you prefer?
Both of these have happened to me (the first more often than the second) and, personally, I like the second situation better. This is because the first situation isn’t relevant to me. Friend A doesn’t tell me much about the book, or why I would like it. Friend A tells me why Friend A likes the book—and it’s great that Friend A does love the book so much.
In a world where reading is subjective, though, and reading tastes differ, Friend A’s recommendation isn’t helpful to me.
Friend B, however, comments on similarities between a book that is has been established I enjoy and xir book. This suggests that I might enjoy the book Friend B is recommending to me, where I might not enjoy Friend A’s recommendation.
Now, you might see this as splitting hairs. That’s very possible. However, I have enough experience with bad recommendations that I’m picky. I take recommendations from most people with a grain of salt and completely ignore some people’s recommendations. There are very, very few people (I can count them on one hand) whose recommendations I trust implicitly.
Recently, I asked for recommendations on goodreads, partially to test whether I would get good recommendations and partially because I genuinely wanted those types of books to read. Three people responded; one recommended a book I was currently reading, one recommended a book I had noted I owned already, and one recommended a book that I’d never heard of and which sounded really interesting. I consider exactly one of these a helpful recommendation.
Now, I can’t say what the thought process was beyond these particular recommendations. I don’t expect people to research my shelves and see what I like and dislike, but I found it frustrating that I received a recommendation for a book I was already reading. To me, recommendations should be for books that one does not already possess (unless you’re trying to convince someone to pick it up ASAP) and which one has not already read.
To me, recommendations should be ways to discover books you haven’t heard of or wouldn’t read otherwise.
I try to employ this when I recommend books to someone, and I’ve been known to refuse to recommend something to someone without parameters. I want to recommend something I think you will like, even if I didn’t enjoy it myself. That’s part of why I would recommend every book I read to the right person. It isn’t about me—it’s about the person receiving the recommendation.
As a sidenote, Epic Reads did a wonderful video on unhelpful recommendations, as well. Check it out here~
What do you think?
Are you picky about book recommendations, too?
How do you go about recommending books?
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