On Recommending Books

September 17, 2006 | 1

In the Contra Costa Times, librarian Julie Winkelstein pens a thoughtful little column about the challenges of recommending books and receiving recommendations from others.

I also realized that although I have come to accept that my recommendations aren’t always taken, I still find it difficult when I don’t like a suggested book. It makes me feel guilty, somehow, as if I didn’t try hard enough. And it is not easy for me to simply say it wasn’t right for me.

As one who is thought of as a book expert – thanks to this blog and my former job as a bookseller – I’m often asked to provide recommendations, and it’s pretty rare that they hit the mark. After all, it can be hard to pin down someone’s taste in books.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.

One comment:

  1. I feel your pain. I think I do best when the person I am recommending to is someone I know intimately, ie, my husband, my mom, my best friends. I think recommending books is an art and by practice, one gets better at it.

    I am a grandmother and this month I am starting "Grandma Judy's Book of the Month Club" for my three grandchildren, aged 8, 5, and 1. It gives me a chance to get familiar with lit for kids and I am going to make up a little reply form for them with questions like, "What did you think of the book? Great, good, ok, boring, really bad." They will just have to check off a box. (Of course, Mom will have to help with the two younger ones.) And I will ask them to tell me what was their favorite part of the book and maybe draw a picture, because they are all great artists.

    But seriously, as a book recommender, one needs feedback. And as someone receiving a recommendation, one should give feedback without guilt, because it helps the recommender hone her skill.

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