Recs for Recs: Where to Find Flawless Book Recommendations

Monday, February 19, 2018
by Kate Stericker

a large bookshelf

Seeking out reliable book recommendations is the strategy that has most transformed my reading habits in recent years. At some point between the first year of high school and the start of university, my interest in books seemed to drop off and I found myself reading a lot less. However, my problem wasn’t a disinterest in reading, but a lack of material that I was excited to read. My attempts to get back into reading would start with picking a random book off the library shelves, meaning that I often wound up slogging through stories that seemed cool at first but couldn’t hold my attention. However, once I started soliciting reading suggestions at every opportunity, I began finding books that aligned with my interests and made me intensely curious to see how the story played out. As my list of fascinating future reads grew longer, I found myself looking forward to my next reading session in a way I hadn’t for years. See below for three ways to find compelling recommendations and get hyped about reading!

Let an Algorithm Help

To begin with the least romantic option, I’ve found that online recommendation engines do an incredible job of crunching data about your reading habits to output perfectly tailored book suggestions., “the world’s largest site for readers,” is the most effective tool I’ve found for generating quality recommendations. After you make an account on the site, you can rate books you’ve read in the past and create a list of your favourite genres. Based on this information, the site’s algorithms create lists of books you might like. As you accept or reject recommendations, the suggestions get even more closely aligned with your preferences. Best of all, if a book catches your interest, you can add it to a ‘Want to Read’ list so that you always have options available when you’re in the mood for a new story.

Screenshot of the Goodreads Recommendations page

Draw Inspiration from Your Favourite Writers

Famous writers tend to be extremely valuable sources of reading material. Due to their appreciation for the written word and involvement in the publishing industry, authors often have extensive knowledge of brilliant classics as well as exciting new releases. Plus, if you love the work they produce, it’s likely that there’s some overlap in your preferences!

If you’re interested in picking up some recommendations from successful authors, there are plenty of round-up articles about the favourite books of both canonical and contemporary writers, such as these three from Mental Floss, Bustle, and Publishers Weekly. Alternatively, you can look up interviews with specific authors or check to see if they have a webpage where they connect with their fans.

Ask Friends and Family Members for Suggestions

I’m particularly fond of this technique because it’s not just a means of finding a compelling new book; it’s also a fantastic way to deepen your relationship with an important person in your life. One of the first things my now-girlfriend and I did after striking up a friendship was to read each other’s favourite books. Her book of choice was a quality read that I wouldn’t have stumbled on otherwise, and, more importantly, the exchange gave us insight into each other’s personalities and provided a jumping-off point for conversation. 

In addition to recommending books that are personally important to them, your friends and family can offer suggestions for books that they think you’ll particularly enjoy. After all, not even the most advanced algorithm knows your tastes, interests, and sense of humour as well as the people you’re close to!

Whether you’re looking to revive a lapsed reading habit or just on the hunt for your next read, hopefully these suggestions will help you out. (And, of course, you can always check out our weekly #FictionFriday posts to get recommendations straight from the Writing Centre’s current co-op team!)