9 Websites To Help You Find the Perfect Book
Around 175,000 books are published by traditional publishers every year. Countless others are being self-published every moment. Of those thousands, how many books can an individual read in a year? Twelve? Twenty? How do you decided? Even if you aren’t an avid reader, and you read only a few books a yer, selecting the right one might be even more critical.
“Discovery” is the term the book industry uses for the process readers go through in choosing a book. The internet is a great place for book discovery. Other than reading customer reviews on your preferred online bookstore, the web has several excellent websites to help focus your book search. The sites are listed alphabetically
Bookish offers book recommendations and previews. They have extensive book lists and articles (such as “The Sexiest Non-Sex Scenes in YA”), and author and book pages. It’s “editorially independent” but founded by Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster.
Gnooks is an interactive engine that allows you to enter information about your literary preferences and offers a new author to try. The recommendations can be jarring. For example, I typed in the names of three contemporary, award-winning children’s authors and was recommended to read books by Charles Fort. I’d never heard of him. He’s a scholarly writer of “weird and anomalous tales” for grownups who lived from 1874 to 1932 . Hmm. I clicked “I don’t know him,” and it recommended award winning YA novelist Matthew Tobin Anderson. More like it.
The granddaddy of the book discovery sites, GoodReads has a community of thousands who contributes reviews and rankings. You can entre the titles and genres you like and recommendations will appear. The site also has a large social element. It’s easy to see which members are online. They also offer GoodReads Choice Awards every year.
Kirkus Reviews started in 1933, providing book descriptions to librarians, booksellers and publishing professionals. Today, their website now is full of everyday readers actively searching great books. You can also sign up for their email newsletter.
They call it the world’s largest book club, with comments on more than 82 million books. Readers can catalog the books they’ve purchased online and review them. The social power is strong here, it’s like Facebook for avid readers. The Zeitgeist section is fascinating, you can scroll lists of top books, top authors, lowest rated authors (Karl Marx is one), top tags (i.e. thriller, autobiography) and more.
Shelfari calls itself “a gathering place for authors, aspiring authors, publishers, and readers.” The site is about connecting readers in online chats about books. Here you can build a virtual bookshelf, rate and discuss books, and join groups that talk about literature. Shelfari is owned by Amazon.
The Staff Recommends
Who knows more about books than people working in a bookstore? That’s the theory behind The Staff Recommends. John Warner, Publishers send books they wish to be considered to The Staff Recommends. If the staff likes it, they’ll allows the publishers to pay the site to have their book featured here. So the reviews are paid for by the publishers, but not every publisher can play. They call themselves an “adverterorial publication.”
The website promises Staff Recommends “Makes sure you’ll have a dud-free reading life.”
What Should I Read Next
This site starts by asking a visitor to type the name of an author they like. A list of titles and authors appears with a button that allows you to get more information or purchase the book.
Do people just like “mysteries” or “romances” or do they like books that address “bad luck and trouble” or books that are “short an sweet”? Whichbook allows people to explore books based on all kinds of criteria. The site offers interactive sliders that allow you to set preferences on elements such as “beautiful” versus “disgusting” and “no sex” versus “lots of sex” as well as criteria for characters, plots, and settings.