Monday, April 18, 2011

What should I read next?

If you're like many of the avid readers who contribute to this blog, that's probably a question that comes up regularly.

I know I've asked friends and coworkers for book recommendations regularly, and am sometimes stumped for an answer.

Well, I've found a solution.

What Should I Read Next? is a website that allows readers to input the name of a book or author they enjoyed reading and receive recommendations from a database of 1 million users for something similar to read. The website says it works based on collective taste: When books are entered into the same list, they become associated with each other. The more often particular items appear on different lists, the stronger that association becomes. It's an interesting experiment in mass opinion, and rather fun to play with.

For example, I typed in "The Catcher in the Rye." My suggestions included the following:
  • "1984" by George Orwell
  • "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • "The Shape of Things" by Neil Labute
  • "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett
and many, many more.

Each entry on the list of suggestions has a book icon next to it, that, when clicked, brings you to an search for the book so that you can learn more, read reviews and even purchase the book if it suits your fancy. Some of the suggestions were books (and even plays, including the works of Shakespeare) I had heard of and forgot I wanted to read them. Some were works I'd never heard of. In any event, I had a lot of fun experimenting with the search feature.

After you search for a book, you can register to be a part of the What Should I Read Next? database. According to the website, you can build a list of all the books you've read and run searches with any combination of books and authors for better, more detailed results.

I think there are several kinks that need to be worked out on the list. For example, I saw the same books by both Truman Capote and Capote Truman in one search. But it's still an interesting experiment and kind of a fun way to get a quick and easy book recommendation.

--Danielle Capriato



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