Books That Pick You!

Screen shot from the website.

An acquaintance of mine, a fellow “tweep,” recently asked for book recommendations via Twitter. I gave her a quick list: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese; One Amazing Thing and Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni; My Ántonia by Willa Cather; and Watchers by Dean Koontz.

These were the first books that came to my head, but I have many, many more favorites. So the question kept me thinking, and as I perused the Web and mulled the idea over, I found, “A new way of choosing what to read next.”

The site has 12 scale bars by which you can choose the qualities you’d like to see (or not see) in a book. You only get to choose along a spectrum of four the qualities out of the 12 (I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s a compromise between speed and higher database complexity), but if you play around with it, you can get a variety of outcomes by which you can then narrow your search.

I first tried it out with these parameters: closer to “safe” than “disturbing” (the only disturbing books I like to read are those by Dean Koontz, because beneath his horror-style writing is a strong belief in goodness, in good reigning over evil); in the middle between “larger than life” and “down to earth”; far on the bar to the left for “gentle” versus “violent”; and far to the right toward “unpredictable” rather than “expected.” I wasn’t really pleased with the list, even though one of the books that did come up was by a favorite author (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Vine of Desire, which I have already read).

So, I tried again, with “unpredictable,” “safe” , “no sex,” and “larger than life.” Guess what? Another book by Divakaruni! This one I haven’t read: Queen of Dreams. It’s now on my reading list.

I tried one more search and was also pleased with the results, which included The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi, a sequel to The Icarus Girl (what an interesting title!). Check and check — These two are now on my list as well.

As you may be able to tell, this site has gotten me even more excited about reading. Even if it’s just a jumping off point for you — for finding books you wouldn’t have thought of, or for more of the books you already like — it’s a great way to get your mind going in the right direction.

About Gem

Writer, photographer, editor, wife, friend, sister, dog mother.
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