When I tossed out the idea for literary matchmaking/personal shopping for books/whatever you want to call it two weeks ago, I was afraid nobody would be interested.
I needn’t have worried–there are 148 comments on that post, not counting the ones that are floating around in cyberspace due to Wednesday’s hosting transfer. (If your comment isn’t showing up, that’s why. Don’t worry, it’s not lost forever: it’s just in the wrong place at the moment.)
People ask me for book recommendations all the time, but it’s hard to recommend the right book to the right reader if you don’t know that person’s taste. So I asked you to tell me 3 books you loved, 1 book you hated, and the last book you read.
Some interesting common themes emerged. Readers mentioned the following genres repeatedly: some loved them, some hated them:
• Literary fiction
• Historical fiction
I consider more than genre when recommending books. Your comments indicated you care about:
• the page-turner factor. (Do you want a plot-driven book, or one that’s slow and gorgeous?)
• the f-bomb factor. (Can you tolerate a little profanity, or is that a deal-breaker?)
• the zany factor. (Are you okay with off-the-wall plot lines?)
• the squeamish factor. (What topics are off limits for you?)
• the page number factor. (Does 700 pages sound delightful or impossible?)
• the loose ends factor. (Some people hate books that don’t resolve. Are you one of them?)
(I’d love to hear what you would add to these two lists in comments!)
With those factors in mind, I’m trying my hand at matching the first 3 readers with books. (Whitney, Bea, Jen–thanks for being the guinea pigs.)
I tried to avoid doing a straight tit-for-tat–Oh, you liked Harry Potter? Read Outlander next!–but take all 5 books (3 love, 1 hate, 1 current) into consideration. And to hedge my bets, I’m choosing 1 mainstream pick, 1 eccentric pick, and 1 YA pick for each reader. (Or more, if I can’t help myself.)
Whitney and I have similar taste. Judging from her picks (and even though she listed 6 “loves,” that’s still a small sample), she likes plot-driven books, enjoys fantasy, and reads a good bit of YA. Jamie Ford’s novel moves quickly and tells a great story, and the eccentric and YA picks have a lot in common with what she’s loved. No historical fiction!
Love: The Quilter’s Apprentice, These Happy Golden Years, 44 Scotland Street
Meh: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I wanted to like this book, but I think there were to many characters and literary references and I got a bit overwhelmed.
Last read: Birds of a Feather by Jaqueline Winspear (and I loved it!)
Mainstream: Gaudy Night, or any Dorothy Sayers mystery, or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Eccentric: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
YA: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley (book 1 of the Flavia de Luce series), the Betsy-Tacy series
44 Scotland Street brought Dorothy Sayers immediately to mind, and Bea’s book-in-progress supported this. I chose Gaudy Night because it’s my favorite. Miss Pettigrew is a quirky, lighthearted novel that seems to fit Bea’s taste, as do Guernsey and Betsy-Tacy. Since she loves Laura Ingalls Wilder and at least one British mystery series, I chose Flavia.
Jen and I seem to have similar taste. (I haven’t read The Casual Vacancy, but I did stare at it for 3 weeks before returning it to the library unread.) I picked enjoyable, easy-reading novels that still made you think. I highly recommend Wonder to anyone who loved TFIOS, Maisie and Attachments are wonderful picks for Guernsey fans, although for different reasons.
My current plan is to tackle these recommendations a few at a time. Got a better idea? I’m all ears.
What categories would you add to the book selection criteria? And how did I do with Whitney, Bea, and Jen–what books would YOU recommend to them?
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