Weird and wonderful websites, people you follow on Twitter who always have fire recommendations, bookstores with miraculously well-curated selections, incredible librarians whose tastes align perfectly with yours, megacorps whose algorithms you have to admit sometimes surface some great stuff you wouldn’t otherwise have seen — what are some of your go-to ways for finding out about amazing things to read?
One that’s been pretty fruitful for me has been podcast recommendations. Probably driven by there already being solid interest overlap for me with regard to the book recommender if I’m going to commit to listening to them talk for an hour?
+1 on emphasizing recommendations from people you already admire shared across the various mediums–twitter, podcast interview, or otherwise. I also wanted to say Goodreads, but after some brief reflection, I can’t remember the last time I visited that site.
For sure! I think Twitter is pretty high for me personally, good mix of people I actually know + also easy to follow various really smart people in different fields. I’m not huge on podcasts but a similar thing I really like is personal email newsletters…seeing kind of a renaissance lately with Tinyletter, new platforms like Substack, etc. A nice personal medium so well-suited to sharing / recommending stuff! Robin Sloan comes to mind as someone who’s really good at this.
I do use Goodreads a bit but mostly just for things like their annual reading challenge, tracking what books I own, and other list / data things. Their social features seem pretty half-assed and I haven’t really found it great for discovery, though (as with Amazon) maybe I’ll get lucky on occasion with something surfaced by the algorithms.
In general I think my favorite way to discover new books is just browsing bookstores. Usually when I’m at a good bookstore I might end up buying a handful of books, but will keep a note on my phone when browsing and usually jot down a couple dozen titles to look up later and add to my antilibrary list!
I love when people post their book lists. I bookmark pages like this:
But! The thing that has made the most difference is not keeping a list of books to read - but keeping a list of books to read along with the context of where I found the book.
I maintain this page: https://tomcritchlow.com/wiki/books/books-to-read/ on my wiki which is a list of books to read where almost every book came from somewhere which really helps me figure out what book to pick up (and remember to thank the source when I’m done).
Thanks Tom! Good idea and something I haven’t done at all consistently. When I find cool things in bookstores (as mentioned above) I note in my list what store a given batch came from, but I haven’t really tracked other sources like recs from friends, newsletters, Twitter, etc. Could definitely be an interesting piece of metadata to try collecting and adding to entries in my antilibrary (http://www.antilibrari.es/books/). Though at this point I have so many on my list already sans source/context I don’t know if / when I’ll get around to it.
Awesome reading lists from people’s personal sites is absolutely one of my favorite genres of webpage Here are a few other really good ones from my bookmarks:
One of the best ways for me was always the ‘Bibliography’ or ‘Recommended reading’ sections in the end of some books. Articles on Wikipedia sometimes have them too! If you want to explore some topic in more depth, that’s one of the surefire ways of finding great resources.
Similar to @nbaksalyar, I find myself looking at Wikipedia’s “References” section a lot; I’ve actually found some great books that way.
I do use Goodreads enough to also get very good recommendations, but I’ve slowed down on that recently because I have more than enough books in my “want to read” list
Otherwise, I like the simple art of walking into a bookstore and judging a book by its cover. Even if I don’t like it, well, I feel good supporting a local bookstore.
Re: Twitter recommendations –
Here’s a list of reads from a rad person I follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/justinmduke/status/1108379228754579457
Includes popular and lesser known works across a wide range of topics. Great fodder for a growing antilibrary.