Today I’m doing some personal shopping–for books.

Today I’m doing some personal shopping–for books.

literary matchmaking, personal shopping for booksFirst: 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 pick for each reader. (Or more, if I can’t help myself.)

Literary matchmaking

This week we’re choosing books for Natalie, Robin, and Beth.


Love: Flight Behavior, TerrierThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Hate: Naked Lunch
Last read: Jitterbug Perfume

My picks: 

Mainstream: The Girl You Left Behind
Eccentric: The Uncommon Reader, The Engagements
YA: The Age of Miracles, Princess Academy (by Shannon Hale, author of Austenland), The Search for Delicious

The Girl You Left Behind, by JoJo Moyes, incorporates elements from the books on Natalie’s Love List: mystery, World War II, and shifting personal relationships. The Engagements is a wild card here–it’s the Pick Most Likely to Flop. The Uncommon Reader is a charming novella that seems perfect for any Guernsey lover, and  The Age of Miracles is an obvious companion to Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver’s novel about butterflies, climate change, and finding your way.

I can’t help throwing in Princess Academy, which is on my to-read list, and The Search for Delicious, one of my Kid Lit favorites. And I would highly recommend The Poisonwood Bible and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to any reader who enjoyed Flight Behavior. 


Love: What Alice Forgot, DivergentMaisie Dobbs
Hate: Gilead
Last read: the Bess Crawford series, by Charles Todd

My picks: 

Mainstream: The Rosie Project (still $1.99!)
Eccentric: The Likeness
YA: When You Reach Me (still $4)

Robin’s picks tell me she wants pageturners, not literary fiction, and that she likes mysteries. What Alice Forgot readers are likely to love The Rosie Project. (Plus, both books include mild language and a few racy scenes, so I’m comfortable with that recommendation.)  The Likeness is part of Tana French’s  fabulous but gritty Dublin Murder Squad series. It’s a psychological thriller that you can’t put down. (Serious language warning.) When You Reach Me has a strong plot, good characters, and sci-fi and mystery elements.   


Loved: Pride and PrejudiceGaudy Night, Crunchy Cons
Hate: Wicked
Last read: The Fault in our Stars

My picks: 

Mainstream: A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes), Elizabeth Gaskell
Eccentric: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, A Jane Austen Education
YA: Code Name Verity 

Beth is happy reading old books and nonfiction. I chose Sherlock Holmes because it’s a classic mystery, appealing (I hope!) to Dorothy Sayers fans. Plus, Sherlock is hot right now! And Elizabeth Gaskell is a solid choice after Austen. Miss Pettigrew (which I can’t stop recommending) is a 1938 novel that’s likely to appeal to P&P and Sayers fans. A Jane Austen Education is one of my favorite memoirs–a nonfiction pick since Beth named Crunchy Cons as a fave. Code Name Verity is a good YA companion to Sayers’ crime writing.  

What books would YOU recommend to Natalie, Robin, and Beth?

(Last week you all left a wealth of recommendations in comments! Check them out here.)

PS. Grown-ups shouldn’t finish books they’re not enjoying, and the 5 possible reactions you can have to any book. 

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16 comments | Comment


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  1. Natalie says:

    I’m definitely going to have to read all of your recommendations for me (even the one Most Likely To Flop). I have read Uncommon Reader, The Poisonwood Bible, and Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (I’ve read a lot of books, what can I say) and loved them all, so I’m going to assume your other picks are just as good for me. Thanks!

  2. Katie says:

    I guess my comments are still lost in cyberspace. (Perhaps permanently?) And I can’t engender what books I listed. But this is so much fun and I’m adding so many books to my TBR list! Thank you, Anne!

    It’s also interesting to see people’s different taste in books. Some like and hate the same skirts of things I like and some love what I hate and hate what I love. But the interesting lists are where I love both the books they love AND the ones they hate (or vice versa). It really helps me think about what it is about certain books I like and how they’re similar and different. I love this series of yours. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      They’re not lost, but they’re not on the blog. I’ll manually restore if I have to. 🙂

      And yes to everything you say about the interesting bits. 🙂

  3. Robin says:

    Thank you, Anne! I’m reading The Rosie Project right now based on your previous comments about it (and loving it!). I’ll definitely try the others too. When I told my husband about your post, his first comment was, “Did you say you hated Life of Pi?” Apparently I was vocal about my dislike of that book, but then totally forgot about it!

  4. Beth says:

    I love my suggestions- thanks! Many are on my mental “to read” shelf already, but happily, I have not yet read any except the Conan Doyle!

  5. Molly says:

    Someone else hates Life of Pi? I am not the only one?? Yay! Everyone I know who has read it thinks it is the greatest thing around. I only finished it half hoping the kid would crash and refused to see the movie.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I am loving this series. I keep writing down any recommendations you give that I haven’t read already. I am sorry to see Robin hates Gilead, though I hate popular books sometimes too. I bought it long ago because the cover was a color, robin’s egg blue, that I am openly a sucker for anytime. I tried to read it and gave up quickly. Than a favorite professor of mine a year later mentioned her deep and abiding love for the slow moving but important book. I tried again and fell in love.

    • Anne says:

      There’s so much I love about this comment. 🙂

      Interestingly, I don’t mentally categorize Gilead as “popular.” (I guess it is?) But it definitely falls under my self-coined category “gorgeous novel.” The thoughtful, meditative, slowly-developing storylines that are beautifully written and rarely page-turners.

      I love how you picked it up again because a favorite prof said she loved it. That’s a great way to find a book. 🙂

      • Robin says:

        Maybe I’ll have to try it again. I didn’t hate it, so much as found it slow, so I quit reading. I really couldn’t think of a book I didn’t like at the time. (Guess I should have just asked my husband!)

  7. Alexa says:

    Thanks for the tip on The Rosie Project being only $1.99. I had been trying to decide whether to read that one for a while.

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