September 6, 2013

Recommending Books to Friends

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

About a month ago, my incredibly clever blogger friend Amanda wrote a post on why she's striking the term "must read" from her vocabulary. I obviously agree with this point, mostly because everyone I know is so incredibly different and even though I think a book is made of brilliance, I GUARANTEE you I can find at least five people in my life who don't agree.

Now, I don't think that's because those five people don't like YA. I mean, they might not. But, guys, a story is a story. If it's really good, or really suits a person, it doesn't matter if the main character is 13 or 30 (I think Jennifer Garner proved that one to all of us when her character was both 13 and 30 in one movie and you really did care at both ages - DON'T LIE AND SAY YOU DIDN'T).
So instead of shoving my most favoritest YA books at them, I'll ask these five people a couple of questions.

1. What have you read recently that you loved?
Like Nicholas Sparks? Perhaps you'll like Sarah Dessen, or maybe Susane Colasanti. Hell, you might even like these two authors BETTER. (Because I know I do.) Did you enjoy The Hunger Games? Divergent by Veronica Roth might work for you.

2. Haven't read anything recently? What TV shows/movies are you watching?
Do you like Sliding Doors scenarios? Maybe try Parallel by Lauren Miller or Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young. Like Criminal Minds? Well there's this book called I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga about the son of a serial killer! How about the news? You're into current events, right? Well, Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley is based on the Elizabeth Smart abduction. 

3. Maybe your/my friend is particularly difficult and also doesn't watch TV (not that I really want to know what this person does with their free time anymore)? Now is the time to figure out what their general likes and dislikes are.
Like Greek Mythology? Here, have some Percy Jackson. Do you like controversial books/being in the know? Obviously not reading everything by Stephanie Meyer/Cassandra Clare is a big mistake - get in on the conversation and do it knowledgeably, please. Are you a major feminist? Not reading everything by Tamora Pierce is a HUGE oversight on your part.

At this point you'll probably have a tower stack of books to drop in front of your friend who quite possibly didn't actually ask for a recommendation - you're just making trouble because that's what you do as a bookish person. Please note, these hand-picked recommendations might not be the most popular books. They might be books you disliked - maybe even books you haven't read yet/have no intention of reading. But THAT'S OKAY. I mean, better to not recommend Harry Potter if you KNOW they're gonna hate it and you're gonna have to stop talking to them, right?
Or just give whoever you're recommending books to a copy of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan and call it a day. (I don't CARE if you don't like it, it's too important not to read so sit down, shut up and read the freaking book.)

Hopefully you all agree with Amanda and I about MUST READ books not existing. Otherwise you probably hated this post. But if you DO agree, be sure to tell me what tactics YOU use to help your friends pick books in the comments below!


  1. This is the perfect companion post to mine, Gaby. I love the questions you ask before giving recs--they're similar to mine. <3

  2. So, I'm a public librarian, and I am often asked to recommend books to kids and teens. It's called Readers' Advisory. I do usually start with "What books have you read recently that you liked?" It gives me a starting place. Sometimes the kids just shrug their shoulders, whcih definitely makes it difficult. But then I'll ask what types of books they like (I usually don't use the term genre, because they usually haven't learned that one yet), and I'll work from there. I do have some staples that I recommend a lot. Percy Jackson is always a crowd pleaser, whether they're a wonderful reader, or a reluctant reader.

    But, yes, I agree, some books I love to pieces, whereas other people don't care for them.

  3. I agree, although I do like to share my favorite books with people. But yes, why bother giving them a book you know they won't like? It's only going to make you feel miserable and the other person read a book they hated. On the other hand, I don't have to recommend books since nobody around me reads :p

  4. Ah, I just did a post similar to this! It is so hard recommending books to people, especially non-book friends. Everyone's tastes are so different and I ask my friends the same leading questions, too. What did you just read and like? What do you like to read about? And then I think of book that will be more generally appealing to people.

    But I agree with the 'must read' comment TOTALLY. There would be no need for ratings or opinions if we all LOVED the same things. If that were true I wouldn't have such a deep hatred for all things Twilight when I know a good amount of my friends would tell me Twilight is A MUST READ FOR EVERYONE. Not true. Just like I believe The Mortal Instruments are amazing, but I know that they are not for everyone. Same with Daughter of Smoke and Bone books. Different strokes for different folks.

    LOVE the post Gaby! :) :)

  5. This is exactly what happens at the library so I totally understand! Could you imagine me just recommending my favourite reads to all of our customers? Our teen shelves would disappear :P!

    But not everyone likes the same things so it's best to get a good handle on the person before you recommend them things! Like, my best friend and I are so different in our reading but I know what books I could recommend her - or buy for her, because I know what she does like to read!

    Great post as always Gaby! :)

  6. I'm side-eying some of your recommendations, but in theory I am right there with you. I think another crucial element is finding out what makes someone enjoy a book. Are they in it for well-fleshed out characters? Ornate writing? A unique setting? Non-stop action? Gore? Humor? That's crucial too. I mean, sure, they loved The Hunger Games, but maybe they actually really liked the love triangle, and so they would hate Divergent you know (among the many reasons to hate Divergent)? Or with Nicholas Sparks, maybe what they liked was the forbidden love angle, so you should be giving them Lurlene McDaniel, not Sarah Dessen.

    Ahem, but, yes, I agree mostly. Just if you recommended me Divergent because I liked The Hunger Games, I would not trust you anymore. *shudders* *kicks Tris*

  7. I'm ATTEMPTING to strike out must read from my vocabulary, as I know that some people just don't feel the same way about certain things as I do. I enjoy your system for recommending books to friends though, as I think it's spot on. This way, the recommendation is tailored to them specifically!


Hey there! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment. Also, if you have a blog, be sure to leave a link so I can go check it out!