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 Whichbook.net, “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.