Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Ups & Downs of Recommendations: Part 2

So I started talking about how scary it is to recommend books back in May (read it here), and now I want to talk about taking recommendations.

Taking recommendations from others is never as nerve-wracking as giving them, which is why I'm always open to hearing about new books to check out.  I've been pretty lucky so far.  Almost every book that's been recommended to me (that I've read) has been a great read.  Sometimes, the book has been so good that it's now one of my favorites.

Of course, I also have to take into consideration that one of the reasons why these recommendations have worked out is because of who's doing the recommending.  I've had books pushed at me from multiple directions, but the ones I actually follow up on are usually from people that I trust, people with similar taste, or people who know me.

I suppose if I were to read more of the random recommendations I've gotten, there'd be a greater chance of being disappointed with a book.  For example, if I just started reading all the books that says I'd like, I'd probably have a lot more negative reviews than I currently do now.  So while I'm always open to recommendations, I'm more likely to listen to the ones from people that know me, or at least know my preferences.  A great example of this would be two emails I received recently concerning review books.  One publicist took the time to look through my blog to see if the book she was sending would be a good fit for me (my review is coming soon, I swear), while a second publicist's book was completely outside the outside of my comfort zone.  Just knowing that you know my taste a little bit helps me decide whether I'll follow up on a recommendation.

Recommendations That I've Loved

  • John Green's novels - Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars
    • Recommended by:  My brother
    • Why I loved it:  I don't read a lot of contemporary YA in general, so I was a little skeptical of these books.  But they're so amazing.  TFIOS is beautifully written, heartbreaking, and quotable.  I love Augustus Waters.  And Paper Towns was different, unique.  It has great character development and a good story.
  • The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
    • Recommended by:  My brother
    • Why I loved it:  I love fantasy; it's my favorite genre.  I also love satire, sarcasm, and humor.  This series embodies both.  Pratchett wrote great fantasy adventures with wizards and dragons and assassins.  But they are filled with mocking references to pop culture.  This combination was the perfect fit for me.
  • Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
    • Recommended by:  My brother
    • Why I loved it:  I like science fiction as well as fantasy, and this book is a combo of both.  But I was nervous at first because it seemed like it could be a little too... gross.  I ended up loving the book.  Yes, it had some moments that I thought were a little icky, but it was never more than I could handle.  It's a really interesting story that I thought was original and exciting.  And there aren't a lot of "science-y" details to slow down the story.
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
    • Recommended by:  My sister
    • Why I loved it:  I love Greek mythology.  Ever since elementary school, I've been studying and reading pretty much every book of mythology I could find.  This book (and the whole series) is amazing because it's a fun, modernized version of the Greek myths told from the POV of an 11-year-old with a great sense of humor.
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
    • Recommended by:  My mom
    • Why I loved it:  Mysterious, creepy, and romantic, this book is the definition of modern Gothic.  And I love Gothic novels.  I was on the edge of my seat, practically biting my nails the whole time I was reading it.  I love novels with a lot of suspense and a great antagonist.  Rebecca definitely has both.
  • For One More Day by Mitch Albom
    • Recommended by:  My aunt
    • Why I loved it:  Besides being very well-written, this book was so beautiful and sad and emotional; I was a wreck after reading it.  But I loved it because it made me grateful that I have such a great relationship with my mom, and it also made me think.  If you hade one more day with a loved one you'd lost, how would spend it with them?  What would you talk about?  Definitely a tear-jerker, but so worth the tears.
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Recommended by:  One of my BFFs
    • Why I loved it:  My friend and I have pretty similar taste when it comes to books, so I can trust her when she gives me a recommendation.  This book is fantasy (favorite genre), it has a dragon (I LOVE dragons), and it has a great concept.  It's got a few sections about sailing that drag a little, but for the most part, it's an awesome story about power, temptation, and knowing yourself.
  • The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
    • Recommended by:  A good friend
    • Why I loved it:  This book is really a great parody of traditional fantasy ideas.  It pokes fun at what people expect to see in epic fantasy.  I was laughing so hard throughout the book.  Plus, there are griffins.  Really cool, kind of quirky griffins. 
  • The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey
    • Recommended by:  Two of my friends' moms
    • Why I loved it:  In case you didn't get this already, I love, love, LOVE dragons!  I think they are the coolest fantasy creature ever, and would probably read almost any book containing them.  Besides the dragons, the books also have great characters, interesting stories, and amazing world-building.
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer
    • Recommended by:  A coworker/friend
    • Why I loved it:  My coworker read this and told me it was WAY better than Twilight, so when I saw it on sale, I thought "Why not?"  And she was right; it is so much better than Twilight.  It's a great romance; it's well-written; there's no sparkly vampire; and the sci-fi aspect isn't overwhelming.
Now what about you?  Do you read everything that's recommended to you?  Or do you only trust certain people's recommendations?  What are some books you've loved that were recommended?  What are some books you would recommend to someone else?

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