Book lovers can be a bit obsessive about always having a book “in progress”. (I know because I am one.) As soon as we finish one book, we are immediately on the hunt for a new one to start, lest we face the tragic situation of having nothing to read. For those times when we aren’t able to browse the shelves of our favorite bookstores, there’s a handy website to help us out. The appropriately named WhatShouldIReadNext.com recommends books to users, based on its analysis of reader-generated favorites lists and ratings. The site is a great resource for serious bibliophiles and casual readers alike who are looking for their next fix… I mean, read. It’s also very simple to use: you simply head over to the website, type in the name of a book that you like, and a list comes up with a variety of recommendations. Easy peasy.
I’ve been playing with the website all morning, and it’s kind of addictive—both because the site gives me recommendations for new books and because it’s a way of tracking the comprehensiveness of my own reading. (I’ll admit it: I feel a little smug when I see that I’ve already read a lot of the recommendations on a list. Whatever, I’m shallow.) The recommendations, which are based on other readers’ favorites lists, also offer intriguing insight into how other people think about books that I love. For example, when I do a search for my favorite book—William Goldman’s 1973 classic The Princess Bride—the results suggest that readers like the novel for very different reasons. That a variety of fantasy writers—including C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and Anne McCaffrey—appear on the list is no surprise; The Princess Bride is, after all, a fairy tale. But other results, like books from humorist P.G. Wodehouse and children’s poet Shel Silverstein, show that it’s Goldman’s satire that appeals to some readers. The results really highlight the novel’s inherent hybridity; it would be fascinating to see how other books are similarly reflected in WSIRN’s recommendations. (The rec list also included the sex guide, The Guide to Getting it On!, by Paul Joannides. I’ll assume that either there was a glitch in the search algorithm or The Princess Bride fans just happen to be awesomely open-minded about sex).
Happy reading, everyone!
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