What Should I Read Next? Suggestions based on books you enjoyed


Based on the screen shot, it looks kinda random to me.

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No matter what books I put in they keep recommending something called “Little Brother” by some doctor.


Nice idea, but I prefer it built into things I’m already using. Don’t want to have to maintain multiple lists of what I’ve read .So Goodreads is pretty good. Then again, my TBR virtual pile is huge (just shy of 300 books) so I don’t really need new suggestions. Also, rather than a random list - I do like Boing Boing’s book recommendations and Scalzi’s Big Idea or recommendations from friends who know my tastes.

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I plugged in a book published in 2002, and it couldn’t be found. So it gave me a chance to look up the book by ISBN. I got this:

I don’t know how good the recommendations will be, but I think I could have a lot of fun adding books.

I put in The Story of O and the results consisted entirely of Anne Rice, with the exceptions of what appears to be a Christian romance novel and Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Weird.

I enter: “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo.
Site recommends “Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride” by Kate DiCamillo.

Now don’t get me wrong, my kids enjoyed DiCamillo in 4th grade, but her picture book about a pig riding in a car is a bit of a stretch from 18th century desolation, incarceration, hubris at the barricades and redemption at the hands of a kindly bishop. Maybe Mercy Watson is a Christ figure and I’ve been missing it all along!


I get frustrated by recommendation algorithms. For example, on Netflix if I watch a great movie with an African American lead, the algorithm assumes, “you are black,” and then I end up with a whole list of crappy movies with African Americans in them. If I watch a great show targeted to teens, algorithm says, “you are 14,” and I get recommended to watch the entire CW catalog. I watch a show with a female lead, I get “Movies with a strong female lead” as a category and a whole slew of bad movies with women in them.

Here’s the deal - yes there are genres you can skip - I’m okay with spelling that out to a machine - but I don’t really read a book about a woman because there’s a woman in it, or a book about Mormons because I’m all so interested in Mormons. I know some people like to read the same story over and over again, but I want variety in what I read.


Asked for recommendations based on “The Martian” by Andy Weir (a sci-fi survival thriller!) and got back… a lot of romance novels.

This has to be the worst recommendation algorithm ever. Is it doing anything besides matching LoC subject headings?

Did not have the same problem with Thus Spoke* Zarathustra.

* “Spake” can fuck itself.

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Got same results. Perhaps they’re recommending the books you need, not the books you want.

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I put in Mortimer Adler’s “How to Read a Book”, and it pointed me to a list of ‘Books and Reading’.
Wow; it never occurred to me.

The fundamental failure of these recommendation algorithms is that they assume that if I read and enjoyed a book, I would want to read another book like it next. When I would most likely want to read something entirely different.


What should I read next? Probably something from the ginormous piles of stuff I’ve already purchased. Tsundoku 4 Lyfe, yo.

[quote=“ChuckV, post:6, topic:50854, full:true”]I put in The Story of O and the results consisted entirely of Anne Rice, with the exceptions of what appears to be a Christian romance novel and Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Weird.[/quote]Y’know, she’s written some freaky sh!t, to put it mildly. Very mildly.


I put in Neal Stephenson and got Neal Stephenson back. I put in Margaret Atwood and got Margaret Atwood back.

I know of the Sleeping Beauty trilogy. It was just odd that the list was so heavily weighted towards her work, and the two exceptions were the icing on the cake.

James Chiles, Inviting disaster - lessons from the edge of technology, nothing. Added it in so it now shows, but with no suggestions.
Richard Poisel, electronic warfare anything, nothing.
Robert McShea, Test and evaluation of aircraft avionics and weapon systems, nothing.
Vincent Dunn, Collapse of burning buildings, “Sorry, there were no results - this is probably because your search edition doesn’t appear in many users’ booklists.”.
Barbara Moran, The day we lost the H-bomb, nothing.
Richard Thompson, Crystal clear - about WW2 crystal oscillators history, nothing. Name query offers instead Jane Heller, Crystal clear, which is something entirely different.
Bee Wilson, Swindled - the dark history of food fraud, nothing.
Trevor Kletz, What went wrong, you can guess for yourself.
Charles Harper, Handbook of ceramics, glasses and diamonds, drumrolls please, NOTHING.

And that’s the lighter stuff.

I was interested to learn that one of the first ten recommendations for Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is The Book of Five Rings. Now I can’t stop thinking of the crossover fanfiction possibilities.


A lot of these recommendation engines are only as good as the people that use them. If a book is only in one user’s book list, it will recommend the other books in that user’s book list. I never liked whatshouldireadnext for this reason. I’ve used Your Next Read a handful of times, and found it much better. Yes, it’s still going to recommend the same type of book (ie if you put in a John Scalzi book, it’s going to recommend other fun sci fi stuff), but really, how else should it work? “You like this particular genre of sci fi, here’s some more similar stuff”. It’s helped me find authors that I’d never really read much of in the past, when I’m looking for something in the same genre. If I’m looking for variety, I’ll head to some of the “best books of the year” lists in other genres, rather than trying to get a recommendation engine to recommend something to me based on one book that I give it.

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I think I can see the logic there: Ralph Ellison’s “The Invisible Man” -> “Hey, H.G. Wells also wrote a book called The Invisible Man.” -> “In The Hobbit there’s a ring that turns you into an invisible man, that’s kind of close.” -> What’s better than one ring? Five! So my recommendation is: “The Book of the Five Rings”