How do you find books for your TBR (To Be Read) pile? Whether you are looking for your own next read, making a library run, or buying a gift for someone, chances are that you have a favorite source. It might be a trusted local bookseller. Maybe you have a “go-to” reviewer whose taste in books anticipates yours. Or perhaps you are one of those brave souls who enjoy strolling through a shop and literally judging a book by its cover! We’ve all done that, which is why we spend so much time and love on our Ooligan book covers. Maybe you are one of the lucky folks who has a friend with opposite taste in reading, and your book list stays fresh that way.
There’s no wrong way to select reading material. However, speaking from personal experience, using the same method to choose books can get us into a little bit of a reading rut at times. Especially if an author is prolific and writes in a popular genre, it’s all too easy to get into a groove with the familiar when we reach for a book. So we have a few suggestions for using technology to expand your reading list. Say it with me . . . “There’s an app for that!”
This is the grandmama of social reading apps. It’s great for keeping lists of what you’ve read, and the reviews are peer-written and genuine. Goodreads has millions of users and a huge catalog of books. However, it has been around since 2006, and it’s increasingly being surpassed by other, newer recommendation algorithms. But if you want to get recommendations from family and friends, or to join groups that are focused on specific topics or genres, you can probably find them on Goodreads. (Some consumers choose not to use Goodreads because it is owned by Amazon; in that case, StoryGraph is a similar app that is a little more modern.)
Are you a reader who likes to align their books, TV, movies, and music? The Likewise app covers far more than books. You can follow friends or celebrities, browse quirky curated lists, get reading recommendations based on your viewing and listening preferences, and even ask the community to solve reading conundrums for you.
This is an Ooligan favorite! LibraryThing lets you scan your books to build a library, and then explore recommendations, groups, community projects and games, and many other ways to find and play with books. Forgot the name of a book you read once? There’s a group just waiting to help you figure that out! You can check out other people’s libraries, and even flip the recommendation algorithm to get lists of books that are wildly different from what’s on your shelf. LibraryThing isn’t a sleek user interface, but it is stuffed full of information, and it’s a great place to go explore.
This is the new app on the block, partially funded by Ingram Content Group (which will also provide purchasing and shipping services for the site’s online bookshop). “Tertulia” means a literary or artistic salon, and this book recommendation service aspires to recreate the informal “book talk” often heard in Spanish cafes and bars. Tertulia differs from some other sites through its combination of algorithms plus editorial curation; it pulls information from thousands of sources online to figure out what books are being talked about, but also uses the opinions and recommendations of vetted experts to curate lists. This app is a good choice if you are looking for academic and artistic conversation about books, rather than a simple five-star rating system.
This is just a small sample of the many book recommendation apps that are available today. There are many ways to find books for your reading pile. While recommendations from friends and booksellers will never go out of style, technology can help you out too. If you are looking for ways to shake up your reading, consider exploring these or others. And please comment below and let us know: What is your favorite book recommendation app?