Opinion – Book Recommendation Sources

Growing up my siblings and I spent our lives in the library, almost literally. The librarians watched us learn how to write our names so we could get a library card and check out books. They watched me in particular, the most addicted, go through the young children’s section and then move on to other portions of the library. I remember going up to the reference desk to get the bookmarkers they had recommending books for the different grade levels. After I finished those I went on to browse the adult sections.

Obviously I received a lot of recommendations from the librarians. I also got, and continue to get, them from my mother who would faithfully take us to the library every week to exchange books. As we started to earn a little money or received gift certificates trips to the bookstores began. We were in luck with both a B Dalton’s and a Waldenbooks in my little town. Of course when they introduced their membership cards we made sure the family had one of each. The booksellers there loved their work and gladly offered their recommendations to us and spent time talking books.

I also can’t forget about my teachers. Those who had bookshelves in the back of the classroom and scheduled quiet reading time. The teachers who wanted to keep me occupied so they started bringing books. The teachers who didn’t have room for bookshelves but would let me visit the school library and recommended certain shelves or areas of the Dewey decimal system to visit.

However, things started to change. As I started going through high school and preparing for college I ended up getting most of my recommendation though the bookstore and library. The only teachers who talked about reading were my English teachers and they were focused on literature which isn’t a bad thing, just not what I enjoy reading. In college there was more of the same but college also had the internet. Unfortunately I didn’t use the internet to really look for book recommendations just titles by authors I already liked. Thankfully we had a wonderful bookstore because the library was primarily research material. I think I read their two Nora Roberts books enough times to memorize them.

After graduation and living in a non-English speaking country, the internet, ordering books on-line, and finding author websites became a lifesaver for me. That is when it switched for me from less of a face to face interaction resulting in new books to read but the more impersonal recommendations on certain well known book seller websites. A few years later I discovered that some author websites, for example Patricia Briggs, had forums. And on those forums were other people who loved books just as much if not more then I do. Finally I was back to person to person book recommendations.

Now the majority of my book recommendations come from twitter, book review blogs, or Goodreads. Sadly


I no longer have a local bookstore so my face to face recommendations are limited to my occasional treks to the big city when I can visit the used bookstore (UBS) or the remaining large chain bookstore. I have to admit that I miss the face to face interaction.

Thanks for staying with me on this trip through memory lane. Tell me, how has the source of your book recommendations changed with the increase in technology and decrease in local brick and mortar stores?

6 thoughts on “Opinion – Book Recommendation Sources”

  1. What a lovely post. I also visited the library almost daily as a kid, I loved reading ever since I learned how. The schoollibrary had little to offer me. I had no friends nor parents who liked to read, so I just browsed and browsed and read the backs of the books to see what it was about. If I liked a book by an author, I wanted to read them all of course. But I can’t remember people ever giving me recommendations, not even in bookstores. As soon as I got pocket money, I spend it on a new paperback every month. Girly books, about girls with horses, or dogs, and I discovered comic books.
    Getting older, I could afford more books and my addiction was born.
    Especially when I moved from my parents house to the big city, and I had to pay for every book I borrowed in the library, 50 cents! And when I wanted to read that book again, I had to pay again! No way! So I just bought books, and more books, and scoured all the fleemarkets looking for books. You have to consider, a brand new book in the bookstore in Holland was very expensive. I have payed up to 20 guilders for a normal paperback and 40 guilder for a big fantasy novel (translated into Dutch everything). So when I found out I liked reading in English, there were gazillions of unknown English books to discover, books that would never be translated, I was sold. English books are easy to buy online, and cheap! So cheap! I love it!
    And then I discovered sites with people talking about books! Finally, people I could relate to! That was when I got recommendations. I read reviews, and people actually came over and we talked about books for hours! And then later on, the blogging world opened up to me, and then well, to say in Dutch: the gate was opened. I am an addict, a bookshopaholic, you name it.
    Thank you bloggers everywhere for talking to me about books.

  2. Thanks :). I am so glad you discovered english books. I am in shock at how you had to pay to check a book out and then the price of new books. Apparently I was really spoiled :). We are glad to have you in the blogging world talking about books!

  3. I have to admit, I feel sad for kids these days when I think about how the reading experience has changed. I used to LOVE going to the Book Mobile with my girlfriend when it came to the Acme parking lot every two weeks. We’d get BAGS of books–but never above the red line!!–and then we’d walk home, get a big blanket and spread it out under the tree and read all afternoon.
    When my mother would send my sister and I to our rooms on Saturdays to clean, she would invariably find us a few hours later with a still messy room and we’d be laying on the beds reading and day dreaming.
    Good times. Truly good times.

  4. Yes so do I. I have fond memories of my reading spot outside. It was perfect! Not to mention the picnics at the park, camping trips all with books stuffed in every nook and cranny. We started my nephew on the path to book addiction from the time he was born so it will continue *grin*.

  5. I lived at our local library when I was growing up. I don’t remember when my love for books began. Grade school was when I got my first library card. allowance bought Trixie Beldon books. I remember my mother reading my English literature books. She didn’t finish school but she would read every book I brought home, although I don’t remember her checking out any books of her own. I.have one son and now my granddaughter who share my love of books. Thanks for this blog. I have sat in my rocking chair remembering a very good childhood.

  6. You are very welcome. I am glad I could remind you of pleasant memories. I enjoyed some Trixie, Nancy, and The Hardy Boys growing up as well. It is nice to see that you passed your love of reading on :).

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