or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Resources for Book Suggestions

   February 14th, 2008

Last week's Reference Question was about me finding a new source for suggesting good books for patrons - the Mass Book Awards.

Liz's comment on the post was a good one, and I thought it warranted a bit of research and a full post devoted to answering it. She said:

There are a few websites which allow you to enter some of your favorite bands and it pops out suggestions of similar bands you might like - wouldn’t it be awesome if they had a site like that for books?...

Here are some resources I found that let you search for a book/author you like, and then link from it to similar books:

  • WhatShouldIReadNext.com - search for a book to see recommendations
  • reader2.com - search for a book to see recommendations; also shows tags associated with each book
  • AllReaders.com - search for a title or author, and similar books are listed at the end of each book description; also allows searching by plot, setting, or character
  • StoryCode.com - lets you search for a title or author and suggests similar stories (based on user data); also has other features
  • LibraryThing.com - offers book suggestions based on user-entered tags; you can also browse tags for books on a certain subject, or use their unsuggester to find books unlike a particular book
  • GoodReads.com - seems a lot like LibraryThing, but puts more emphasis on recommendations of people in your friends network rather than cumulative data
  • NoveList - the old standby, but you probably need to go through your local library for it
  • Amazon.com - it is Amazon, so it's primary focus is to sell book, not recommend them, but it does offer suggestions based on what people purchase and search by topic (as it were)

There are lots of other sites devoted to book suggestions. A few others I found that didn't fit above but that are also useful are:

  • Listal.com Books - search (hidden in upper right corner) for books and link to others via tags (seems to focus more on social connections)
  • FictionFinder from OCLC - offers Subject cloud (like tag cloud) to find similar books; also allows searching, and each book has links to see other books with the same subjects, genres, characters or setting
  • Find a Good Book from Hennepin County Library - search for an author to find recommended reading lists where that author's books appear (plus links to other listings and resources)
  • Staff Recommendations from the Skokie Public Library - search for a subject to find books their staff has reviewed and recommends

And here's a few resources that are list-based - you click the subject you like, and you browse the list of books in that subject:

I'm sure there are tons of others - even my library also has a readers advisory webpage. If I missed one of your favorites, please share it with a comment below.

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5 Responses to “Resources for Book Suggestions”

  1. Diana Tixier Herald Says:

    Great list. Thanks! Just wanted to let you know about Reader’s Advisor Online. It is an elegant tool subscribed to by libraries providing reader’s advisory but has a free blog for anyone to visit. http://www.readersadvisoronline.com

  2. Liz Says:

    Wow – I’m nonplussed. Not only is there one, there are over a dozen! Well done you. It always comes in handy to know a good reference librarian. ;D

  3. arya Says:


    You have a great blog here. I would like to recommend a good resource for useful information on book reviews:

    URL: http://www.book-worm.biz
    Title: Bookworm.biz
    Description: An independent site dedicated to

    recommending page turners.Get the

    best reviews for all the must-reads.

  4. Zane Says:

    Hey Brian:

    Thanks for putting together such a thorough list for us read-a-holics.

    Here’s another one to add to your list, http://www.juicespot.ca. Came across it last week. Readers share and compare comments and recommendations on books (or as they refer to it on the site as—the juice.) Just click on a cover and up comes the comment string.

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