Matching books (and a movie!) with their readers

literary matchmaking

The details on this ongoing project, and the factors I’m taking to heart.

Readers told me 3 books they loved, 1 book they hated, and what they’re reading right now. In turn, I’m choosing 1 mainstream pick, 1 eccentric pick, and 1 YA/memoir/nonfiction pick for each reader. (Or more, if I can’t help myself.)

This week we’re choosing books for Kelty, Anni, and Katherine.

I’m going to start by recommending a movie for all three readers. Kelty loved What Alice Forgot, and Anni and Katherine both loved The Time Traveler’s Wife. Both books rely on time trickery to throw light onto the relationships of the main characters. The fairly new film About Time does the same thing, and does it well.


Love: What Alice Forgot, The Help, Under the Banner of Heaven
Hate: Gone Girl
Last read: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (Munro)

My picks: 

Mainstream: The Last Letter from Your Lover, JoJo Moyes
Eccentric: A Study in Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (99¢ for Kindle)
Memoir: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Last Letter from Your Lover has just enough in common with What Alice Forgot and The Help to make it a good pick. The Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet is a stretch–Kelty didn’t indicate that she’s into older books, or mysteries–but its subject matter makes for an interesting follow-up to Krakauer’s nonfiction narrative.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (also an excellent film) will make you reevaluate your relationships with the ones you love and live with, a quality shared by Kelty’s fiction picks. 


Love: Pride and Prejudice, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Girl in Translation
Hate: Great Expectations
Last read: Longbourn

My picks: 

Mainstream: Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
Eccentric: North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs

Rules of Civility has the sweeping feel of The Time Traveler’s Wife, the pacing (and class struggles) of P&P, and is set in the same era as Girl in Translation. North and South is the easy pick here: it’s known as “Gaskell’s Pride and Prejudice.”     

I chose Jane Jacobs because place plays a key role in all 5 of Anni’s chosen books, and Jacobs addresses all its aspects in this classic. (Don’t worry, it’s not boring. I promise.) 


Love: The Time Traveler’s Wife, Here Be Dragons, A Severe Mercy
Hate: Beloved
Last Read: The Glass Castle

My picks: 

Mainstream: What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty
Eccentric: The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton
YA: A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L’Engle
Memoir: Chasing Daylight, Eugene O’Kelly

What Alice Forgot isn’t a read-alike to The Time Traveler’s Wife, but I’m recommending it for the way both novels play with time. (Recommending A Swiftly Tilting Planet for the same reason.) The Forgotten Garden is interesting historical fiction, though it’s not set quite as far back as Here Be Dragons.

A Severe Mercy brought Chasing Daylight to mind, which is similar, but not so similar as C. S. Lewis’s works, which seem too obvious to recommend.   

How did I do? What books would YOU recommend to Kelty, Anni, and Katherine? 

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  1. Jennifer H says:

    I loved the Time Traveler’s Wife and What Alice Forgot, and I just watched the trailer for that movie and I now feel I have to watch it as soon as possible – thanks!

  2. I absolutely love the way you recommend books. It’s discouraging to me when I look for recommendations and I can only find books that are carbon copies of the one I just read. You seem to pick out the driving forces and nuances of each book that make them enjoyable and then find a suitable partner. Awesome.

  3. Meredith says:

    I haven’t seen the Time Traveler’s movie, but really enjoyed the book. I like all of your suggestions here, what a great idea 🙂 I like memoirs too, so glad you included a few of those, I will have to peruse them soon.

    • Molly says:

      I saw the movie first and later read the book. I love them both. The biggest difference between the two is that the book alternates between viewpoints whereas the movie seems to have a plot mostly from his point of view (although we do get to see some of what was going on with her in the Now when he was gone).

      • Meredith says:

        I wondered how they were going to do that in the movie. Sometimes the book moved back and forth to a point where I was like, Huh? and, Then oh yeah it’s this now… Thanks for this 🙂

  4. Kelty says:

    So excited about these picks. Funny you mention “About Time”. We watched it Friday night. I did not expect to like it as much as I did. I LOVED it. My husband (who is not sentimental at all even remarked that he teared up in spots.) I had actually been pondering its similarities with “What Alice Forgot” but more along the lines of how both stories made you think about cherishing and tending your most important relationships. I hadn’t even thought about the time-play in the story lines as being similar, or the common thread that I generally tend to enjoy stories that mess with time. I’m excited to have that new idea now to evaluate future reads!

    I do love mysteries (especially mystery series) and used to read a good bit of Sherlock Holmes in my post college years. Actually, I used to listen to them on tape as I drove places. I don’t readily remember the storyline of A Study In Scarlet, so I will have to go back and re-read that one. Good call on that, even with little evidence from my picks.

    I have not yet read any JoJo Moyes nor have I read “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and I’m excited at 2 very new books and authors to try. So, yay! Thank you!!

  5. Anni says:

    Thank you so much! I’m really looking forward to checking these all out. I’m so excited! I love this method of book recommendation.

  6. It’s not really a YA novel ( though it has a seventeen-year-old protagonist), but I’d recommend it to everyone. It’s I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. It was written in England in the 1930s (?), and it’s delightful and moving and quirky in places and really captures the pangs of first love. It’s one of my desert island books, for sure.

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