• The Bossy Bookworm

Six Book Recommendations from Smarty Librarians


Finding Your Next Great Read

Although my to-read list is interminably long, having an endless TBR list brings me cozy, safe feelings, so I greedily, greedily, and continually search for books to add to it and to jump the line to must-read-now status.

During the early months of the pandemic, I was in the mood for a solid dystopian, postapocalyptic read--although in hindsight that was an interesting impulse for mentally escaping that particular situation. Anyway, I wanted new, fresh ideas for titles in that vein that I might like. And I wanted a trusted recommendation. Then someone, somewhere online (who and where were you, wonderful stranger?) mentioned library programs in which librarians tailor book recommendations to patrons, and I was hooked on the idea. It was going to be magical! Books chosen just for me me me!

Programs like our local Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's Find Your Next Read involve answering a few questions about your tolerance for violence, rough language, and adult content; desired time period for your book (I thought that was an interesting one); a few titles or authors you've read and liked; a few titles or authors you've read and disliked; preferred setting (domestic or foreign); and a few other matters. (The system is similar to that used by Anne Bogel on her popular What Should I Read Next? podcast, which I love.) After a few days you receive multiple personalized reading recommendations in an email. Voila!

I found this whole process incredibly satisfying. In fact, now that I've gushed over it, I'm planning to submit another request soon. What shall it be? Books with curmudgeonly, unlikely heroes? Mystery series with strong female protagonists? Do librarians find such specific requests charming or just irritating? I have a guess!

If you're a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library member--or if your local library system offers a similar feature of personalized recommendations--I hope you'll give it a try!

Through Find Your Next Read, a librarian recommended The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers, which I recently read and reviewed (it was a winner for me). Three other titles suggested to me as promising adult and young adult science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian reads were some I had already read and enjoyed, so the recommendations were spot-on: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (which I mentioned in the Greedy Reading List Six Fantastic Dystopian and Postapocalyptic Novels), and Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.

The final two recommendations I haven't yet read but plan to: The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi and Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman (which somehow I still haven't read).

Have you taken part in a program like this? What did you think? And have you read any of my Personalized Recommendations from Librarians, hmmm?