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Recommending Books Vs. Providing Books

Discussion: Recommending Books Vs. Providing Books

Recommending Vs. Providing Books

So I have this new fear of recommending books. At one point I was always super excited about recommending my latest love to everyone that I met. Then I started worrying about what would happen if they didn’t like it. As book bloggers we read lots and one bad book probably isn’t going to put you off from reading someone’s reviews (many differences of opinion, sure). However, my friends in real life don’t read as many books as we do, and I’m worried they will judge my taste more harshly if they don’t like something I recommended. I really want to be known as a person to get fantasy and sci-fi recommendations from, so I’m especially worried about losing that reputation with my real life bookish friends (I don’t have many of them to begin with either D:). Is the answer to stop recommending books at all?

No! I found a solution that eases my mind :D. I have lots of books I haven’t read in addition to books I love and want people to read. So instead of pushing one book on a friend looking for a new book to read, I invite them over to persure my shelves. Instead of recommending a book to them, I simply provide books for them to choose from and read. While they are looking through my shelves and picking down books they want to consider, I also pull books that they might like and make a little collection on the carpet. My visitor then generally goes through several rounds of culling the books that they picked down and that I picked down until there is one (or two) book left. This way, they pick their final book to read, so it’s not my fault if they don’t like it, haha. I get to encourage my friends to read books I think they might like, but the pressure is totally off if the book doesn’t work out :D. There is also usually a pile of “next time” books that they are looking forward to borrowing when they next want a book to read, so I just encouraged their book habit as well, mwahaha.

Do you worry about friends not liking books you recommend? Have you ever done the “home library” method of book lending/recommending? Do you have another strategy to get books into your less bookish friends’ hands?

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -Anya

© 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. Actually, I think I’m quite the opposite. My friends aren’t readers at all, so I suggest book to them confidently, because whatever they read will feel new and original, you know? They usually like the things I recommend, but then again I have trouble making them actually get into reading.

    As to making them borrow my books, I have no problem with that, aslong as they will keep it neat. The last time I borrowed a friend my book it came all bent and part of the spine was cut, so I was pissed. Aaah, the things I do to get people to read.. :P

    • Excellent point! It is nice to recommend books to people who aren’t as jaded as we obsessive readers when it comes to trends, hehe. Oo, that is quite a sacrifice, though I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t lend to that person again D:

  2. Mel@thedailyprophecy says:

    I wish I could recommend books to friends/family, but I’m actually the only passionate reader over here (one of the main reasons I started my blog). I got my sister into reading some more books and she really liked the ones I recommended her so far :) and I even got my boyfriend hooked to some series I absolutely loved, so I guess I’m pretty good at predicting their taste. But I still find it scary – what if they dislike a book I dearly love? I see that on some blogs and it absolutely shatters my heart, haha. So I love the method you are using! :)

    • Sounds like you’re doing an excellent job of converting the normal people :D With my boyfriend the problem is more that I have to reel him in otherwise he won’t even bother. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon his love of zombies that I was able to get him to actually read fiction!

  3. Miss Mimz says:

    This home library thing sounds like the perfect solution! In fact, I’d adopt it right now if I hadn’t developed a fear of lending out books in the recent years…due to people not returning them ways back o_O My real life friends who read don’t have exactly the same tastes as me but I’m usually fairly good a gauging what type of books I’ve read to recommend to them based on what they’ve enjoyed in the past. I have been wrong a few times though and then I get really bummed out haha. With one of my friends we usually make a book-browsing date, equipped with both of our Goodreads mobile app! She tells me what she’s reading, I recommend similar reads, she scans the bar codes, and looks them up again whenever she wants/feels like shopping! I have kind of adopted a technique similar to yours, but only with books I’m getting rid of cause I know I’ll never re-read hehe >.< Thanks for sharing your clever tricks with us ♥

    • Shame on them! Though I really shouldn’t talk since I still owe my mom and friends several books that I haven’t read yet >.> But if they asked for them back, I know right where they are (on the “borrowed” shelf, hehe). I think I’m just lacking a book skill when it comes to figuring out what people will like, or I’m just too scared xD

      Oo that date sounds awesome! I love the GR app soooo much, especially since it holds on to your scanned books list :D

  4. Oh that is brilliant! I only have two local friends that are as book crazed as I am. They come over and peruse my racks often but I don’t feel scared to rec them books because I know what they like so well. I don’t feel scared to rec books because I only rec the ones I SERIOUSLY love. The only book that has failed me on this front is World War Z – I love it – but two people I’ve rec’d it to did not. They story style of changing characters each chapter they did not like. So now I know next time they can’t handle multip perspectives.

    I wish we lived closer! We could share libraries! haha

    • Oo my boyfriend is reading World War Z and he likes it, so there is one positive :D I have so much trouble remembering what my friends liked I have to admit, such bad memory xD

      Omg me too! Mail swaps are always an option though too :D

  5. Ya, I don’t like pressuring people to borrow things, because people have very particular tastes in books sometimes and just because I think something is amazing, doesn’t mean they’ll want to read it (even if they’ll probably really love it anyways haha). I don’t really recommend books that often to actual friends, because none of my friends are big readers. They just do their own thing, and I just do mine (which is devouring books one by one haha).

    • Exactly, I’m realizing that more and more as I try to figure out my own tastes, and even that is hard D: How am I supposed to figure out what others like??

  6. What an AWESOME solution, Anya! I love it! Just let them choose, and sort of guide them based on what you liked best or think they would like best from the pile. Great idea!

    As for me, I basically don’t have anyone to recommend books to aside from my husband. I mean, my book club doesn’t really count since I get to choose a book one every several months and they all HAVE to read it. :P

    • :D Thanks! Book clubs are awesome like that, hehe, I’m jealous though since I’m not in one and so can’t force my reading habits on others *sigh*

  7. I worry a little, but not very much. Probably because when it comes to friends I actually recommend books to, there’s, er, only one of them. And that’s my roommate, who pretty much gets access to all the books I own anyway. Sometimes opinions have differed where I’ve thought a book was good and she didn’t, or vice versa, but for the most part, I don’t worry about making recommendations. Usually if we have a difference of opinion, it leads to some good dicussion anyway, which I love (I don’t get to talk about books with enough people, in my opinion).

    • Hehe, that’s fair. I keep trying to ninja recommend books to get people around me to read more >.> I’m acquaintances with a woman who mentioned she loved The Hunger Games, so I brought her a couple more YA to try to get another YA fan around me ;-)

  8. Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads says:

    I worry about it. Especially when I really love a book. So far it has been okay though and when I’ve recommended something, they enjoy it. It takes awhile for me to start recommending though, I want to get to know someone’s tastes before I do. I have a group of online moms (who are awesome) that I had my daughter the same month as and they are always asking me for book recommendations. So that’s kind of cool.

    It’s always scary that they won’t like it and I would feel bad for recommending something they didn’t really like. I like your idea of providing more than one option (which is what I try to do when they ask, I give a list, rather than just one).

    • I do like to get to know someone’s tastes, but I’ve often run into the problem that they have read books that I’ve never heard of and they don’t know any of my go to books, so we can’t even communicate about the subtler aspects D:

      • Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads says:

        Sometimes I’ll go on Goodreads, if they said that there was a book they loved, and look up the book and check the suggestions based on other people who’ve read the books. It really helps :)

  9. sadly…even my dearest friends are horrible about borrowing books and not returning them. Or if they do return them, the covers have been torn, pages are falling out, food is dropped in between the pages, etc. They no longer get to borrow my books. lol

    But yes, I, too, am wary of recommending books to people. I still do it though if I really really loved the book and I know that they like books in the genre.

    • Oh no, that’s horrible! I would do the same thing, a little wear is okay, but you have to at least try to be nice to the books D:

  10. I know exactly what you mean. I read so many books that reading just an okay one doesn’t bother me and won’t change my opinion of whoever recommended it. But my friends don’t read as much as I do and I’m afraid they’ll think I read crap if they end up not liking books I recommend. Your solution is wonderful! One of my friends came over and wanted book recommendations and I asked her to tell me what books she loved and we sat in front of my shelf and figured out what books she’d like.
    I found it helps to kind of explain the synopsis a bit so they’ll know what they are getting into.
    I’m so glad I’m not the only one fearful of recommending books to real life friends.
    Honestly, the best way I’ve gotten people to read books is when the movies are coming out. I don’t know if people feel pressure to read books before their movies come out or what, but I have about 4 people reading The Mortal Instruments series and I didn’t think most of them would actually like it. For that, I just referred them to the movie trailer.. if you like the concept.. read the book. Simple. And then I feel less responsibility for their opinion.

    As always, you wrote a wonderful and thought provoking post!!

    • Yes! I’m so afraid of being judged by “normal” people for my reading tastes >.> I should probably work on that, hehe.

      It is nice when there is a movie trailer that people can watch, as long as the movie is going to be fairly similar to the book, ha. My boyfriend is reading World War Z because of the movie, but they aren’t actually similar at all! Oh well, he’s still enjoying himself ;-)

      Thank you so much :D

  11. I think you are only going to know a handful of folks in your life that you know their reading likes/dislikes really well. The rest of the time, all you can do is tell folks what worked for you or didn’t work for you. Some things that you adore about a book may be pet peeves for me and vice versa. So, i particularly like how you do your reviews with strengths and weaknesses. If the strengths are on my top lists of things that make me sing a book’s praises and the weaknesses aren’t anything that particularly annoy me, I am likely to give it a go. If the weaknesses, or even the strengths, are things, a single thing (depending on how strongly I feel about it), that completely turns me off, I will pass it by.

    So, in short, your reviews are set up perfectly to help me decide. I assume that you chat to folks in person somewhat the same way you blog about the books too.


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