by Rebecca Tischler
previously published 3/20/14
The 8 Best Reader’s Advisory Websites
As librarians, we’re supposed to be familiar with all of the books so that we can make recommendations, share new books and introduce our patrons to all these new and spectacular stories. The only problem with that is that there is no time to read all of these wonderful books. So we need to find other ways to be able to make recommendations without having read the books we’re recommending. Once of the best ways to do this is to use various book recommendation websites where you can browse through the reviews and thoughts of all those people who have read the books. So to help you out, here’s my list of the 8 best book recommendation websites, whether to help your patrons or yourself to find a new book.
Good Reads is one of the most popular book review websites on the internet (and Amazon bought it because of its popularity), and is incredible for making book lists. You can see which books your friends are reading and what they recommend, and track the books you’re reading, have read, and want to read. However, this website is completely based on user reviews and recommendations, which makes it difficult to find, for example, authors that are similar to one of your favorites unless you wade through a lot of user reviews.
Fantastic Fiction is a great website when you want to look up an author’s collection of books, and it even lists the books of a series in order. You don’t have to worry that you’re missing a book in the series, or that you’re going out of order, and the website even lists new books being released by the author. Each page even includes the books that the author would recommend as well as a section that lists other authors that visitors also looked at after looking at a specific author. It is a fantastic resource, not just for library use, but also for personal use. There are only a couple of issues with this site: first, with so many sections per page, the organization can get a bit confusing, and secondly, the site focuses on the popular authors, so unless you already know the name of that lesser know but wonderful author, you’re not likely to get introduced to them on this website.
Literature Map is not only helpful, but it is a lot of fun to play with. The user types in an author’s name and the website generates a web of other authors that have similar writing styles and genres. The closer the author’s name is to another, the more alike the authors are. This can be a great tool to use when you have patrons asking for help in finding a new author to follow, or to help find similar books for someone to try. Unfortunately, the site only recommends authors and not books, so even though the writing may be similar, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be similar in the way you want.
What Should I Read Next?
What Should I Read Next analyzes the favorites list of all their members in order to recommend the best next read for any book. You can either just get a book recommendation for free by going to their main page and choosing a book title, and it will provide you a list of titles that others who have favorite it have also read. Or, you can join for free and build your own list of favorites to add to their extensive database. The analysis based on reader’s lists is surprisingly good, but book recommendations is pretty much all this website offers.
Your Next Read (USA)
Your Next Read provides book recommendations in two ways, and you can sign up and crate you own “Map” of books. To find book recommendations, you can either browse reading lists, or you can type in a title, and a web of 8 other books will appear (as well as Amazon reviews about the book you searched for). You can then click on another book in the web and 8 more books will show up based on the book you just clicked. You can also offer up recommendations of your own. Unfortunately, if you’re looking at a specific author or at a book in a big series, like Redwall, you run the risk of getting stuck in a book loop, where no matter what you click on, you keep seeing that same books over and over again.
Which Book is another fun site to play with as it helps you pick a book based on your mood, which you can do for free or sign up and create saved lists. The site provides a list of sliders, and you can choose 4 of the sliders to indicate your mood (are you looking for something more Happy or Sad, Expected or Unpredictable, Easy or Demanding, No Sex or Lots of Sex, etc…). Once you’ve indicated your tastes, it will provide you with a list that fits your mood (or you can explore their mood book lists). But if that way doesn’t work for you, you can create book lists based on character, plot type and setting. This site is great to help you find new books that you may not have thought you would like, but if you absolutely love a specific author, you’re going to have to think about why you love that author in order to find similar books.
Shelfari is a social cataloging website for books, which was acquired by Amazon in 2008. Users build virtual bookshelves of the titles they own or have read, and can rate, review, tag and discuss their books. You can also create groups that other members may join, create discussions and talk about books, or even other topics. Recommendations can be sent to friends, but the website does not produce its own reader’s advisory recommendations, it depends on its users to recommend for others. This website requires that you become a member in order to be able to do anything on their site, but it does create a community as well as a personal library for individuals that you can sort and organize based on tags and metadata, and you can even have different shelves for thing s like already read, currently reading, planning to read, wish list, currently owned and favorites. The main issue with this website is that it does require so much time and effort, although if you put in all of that time, you could end up with something really useful.
Library Thing is a social cataloging service so that you can store and access your personal library’s metadata (the metadata is imported from other libraries and Amazon stores). You can share and connect with others who share your tastes and the site will even recommend books based on your library. While this is a very in-depth system with lots of great features, it does require a lot of time and commitment.