Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Book Seer

Having trouble finding a good book to read?

There is an interesting site on-line in which you type the name and author of the last book you read (that you enjoyed) and it will provide a list of books you might like to read.  It is called the Book Seer, and may be found at

It actually just gave me some interesting authors and books to try.  But not everyone is enthralled with it, apparently, as comments on the Guardian imply.  However, they do go on to bring up some interesting thoughts regarding  how we choose what we're going to read next??

It would be wrong, however, to aim too poisoned an arrow at what is an entertaining application. A little digging reveals that Book Seer isn't, as might have been expected, an affiliate marketing program for Amazon, but a harmless enough publicity-getting project launched earlier this month by a design and marketing company. Winningly, Book Seer also suggests you visit your local bookshop or library, and includes links to directories of both. It has posted some data relating to searches carried out so far here, which you can parse at your leisure. The dominance of Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling seems predictable enough at first glance, but less so when you consider Book Seer's function: don't most readers of Meyer and Rowling just read more Meyer and Rowling?
Fun as it is to hunt down the anomalies – try as I might, short of both having been filmed I can't see the link between The Da Vinci Code and Notes On a Scandal – Book Seer prompts a question above and beyond the functionality of its algorithms. Namely: what methods do most people actually employ to move from one book to another? Is it the "if you liked this, try this" suggestions of online retailers such as Amazon? Or perhaps newspaper and journal reviews, a bookseller's expertise, serendipitous browsing or the opinion of friends? Could it even be, flying in the face of the maxim, a book's cover?
For most people, I suspect, the answer is likely to be a combination of all the above.

But I don't want to look too deeply into my motivations or methods for choosing a book....I just want one that will hold my interest, not pablum feed me with stunted vocabulary, and hopefully tickle my brain matter somewhere on a continuum from teasing to enthralled.  I don't ask for much, just something more than a plot I can figure out in the first 20 pages, or a biography by someone who really has nothing valuable to say, or a non-fiction book that should have been just a pamphlet.   I can only imagine how many people I might have just offended, but we each have our own preferences.  That's why there are so many books!

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