Monday, August 22, 2011

How to Find Good Books to Read [Recommendation Sites]

Never judge a book by its cover, they say, but there is no other way when you are at a book store. You read the title, glance at the name of the author, flip it over and read the blurb on the back cover before deciding on whether to take it home or put it back on the shelf. Picking books using this method will always be a hit or miss affair. It’s disappointing when you discover, after spending money on a book, that you don’t like it at all.

Here is how you can avoid that by using these book recommendation and review websites to discover great books to read.

My Top 3 Favorite Book Sites


Amazon is a good place to start. Books are categories by subject and each subject is further divided into specialized sections. You can pick a subject you are interested in and browse through the available titles. If you find a book that gets your attention, read the book description and the reviews left behind by the readers. Give attention to the ratings by the readers, and the number of reviews the book has attracted which indicates the book’s popularity.


The most useful section is "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" that offers suggestions based on what other customers have ordered. This works as a very good recommendation engine often introducing you to books and subjects you’re not aware of.

Aside from book recommendations, you can check out different lists such as the Best sellers’ list, Best books of the month, Best of the year, Best selling books and Editor’s picks. But sellers and popular books are rarely great books. So don’t expect to find a gem among these ones.



LibraryThing is not just an online catalogue of books, but it’s also a social networking site for book lovers. You can connect with other readers, share your reads, contribute tags, ratings and reviews and get recommendations. If you don’t want to get involved, no worries. It has an amazing book recommendation engine that anybody can use. Just enter the title of a book you enjoyed and LibraryThing will suggest you books on same or similar topic.

LibraryThing’s incredibly good suggestions come from an extensive user base of over a million book lovers.



Goodreads doesn’t recommend you books, per se, but shows you lists that includes the book you searched for. These are not questionable lists prepared by one person, but compiled with the inputs of thousands and thousands of users. Lists of best nonfiction, historical fiction, adult novels, war stories, books that everyone should read at least once, best books of the decade and other interesting lists. Hundreds of lists encompassing thousands of books. It’s totally addictive.

You can also explore titles by new releases, reinvent reviews, most reads, and popular books, but it’s those lists that make Goodreads an excellent resource for book lovers.

Other Book Recommendation Sites

Shelfari – Powered and run by Amazon, so you get the same recommendations, but it has a community.

WhatShouldIReadNext – Very small collection and limited to only popular titles. Recommendations aren’t great either.

YourNextRead – Powered by amazon engine.

Book Review Sites

New York Times

Washington Post

San Francisco Chronicle

Boston Globe Books

Village Voice Books

Book Brothel

The Complete Review – Links to 250 book review sites.

Related: 21 places to swap used books and DVDs


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