What do I read next?

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One of the most common questions in any library, second only to “How do I use the photocopier?”, is “What do I read next?”  There are many ways to find the next best book to read.  We’ll look at three ways to get an answer to that question.

Perhaps the best is to ask a friend or develop a network of friends who have similar reading tastes as you and ask them what they like.  Your friendly neighbourhood librarian can be part of that circle.  The more they get to know you, the more accurate they will be with their recommendations.  You can also subscribe to a network like Goodreads, Librarything or Shelfari.  These are all networks of folks who catalogue what they read and you can develop friends lists to keep tabs on what others who have similar tastes to you are reading.  People rate books and write reviews and most of these sites compile lists of books around prize winners, best sellers, genres and themes.  I hangout at Goodreads.  If you go there, look me up!

Another great resource is Novelist Plus.  This is part of our online database package that we subscribe to at St. George’s.  This is a database of all sorts of information about books.  You can pull up author profiles, award winners and genre lists.  If you enter the title of the last great book that you read, you will get information about the book, the author and other books that the author has written.  In the right sidebar, you will also see a list of “read-alikes.”  These are other books that Novelist thinks are similar enough to the book you read that you might just like them.  If you are accessing Novelist from off of the school property, make sure that you get the appropriate login information from the library before you get started.

Finally, a cool tool that I discovered today is LiteratureMap.  This nifty little piece of web based software allows you to explore connections between authors.  Type in your favourite author and see who might also be interesting to you.  I entered Cinda Chima, our guest author next week, and found that Alexis Morgan, Laura K. Hamilton, and Brandon Mull are very similar to Chima in some way.  There is no published rationale for how LiteratureMap determines these links, but I think that it would be a fun way to explore authors, especially once I’ve finished reading all of Chima’s books!

Exploring authors and their work is not an exact science, nor should it be.  That would take all the fun out of the exploration.  No tool is going to guarantee successful recommendations but each of the tools above can help you with that journey.  Now, go!  Explore!  And let us know how the journey is going.


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