You've Gotta Read This!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Here’s what I think it comes down to: no matter how many interesting reviews you read or how many ads you see, what most often gets a book into my hands is a real person telling me, “You’ve just got to read this.”
That’s exactly the premise behind the Flashlight Worthy book recommendations web site, which has as its mission recommendations of “books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime.” The site’s creators are Peter Steinberg (who handles the books part) and Eric Mueller (the tech part) I love the name, with its image of when staying up to read a good book was a daring act. (Just one more chapter. Pleeeeze.)
Peter explains that he started Flashlight Worthy because finding quick, concise online book recommendations was hard.
“Amazon reviews are massively long. Google is too robotic, and while I love book bloggers, it's hard to find one who shares your reading tastes. And if you do, they usually don't read much faster than you do so you don't have a whole lot of choice in what they recommend.”
At Flashlight Worthy, readers can add their own “recommended” lists, that are categorized so that it’s easy to find just what you’re looking for, from “testing the waters of sci-fi” to “baseball by the numbers: the best books on baseball stats” to “great books for strong girls in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade.”
Peter and Eric invite you to visit and add a list of your own. Oh, and one more thing: they have a little problem they’re looking for help with. Seems that the blog’s name tends to confuse Google into grouping them with suppliers of flashlights. So they're hoping book-lovers will add the site to their own blogrolls to keep the recommendations coming.
Another group of book recommendations--these are for children's books--comes from my friend Deborah Sloan at her site, The Picnic Basket. Her readers are teachers, librarians, and just plain lovers of children’s literature who post reviews of new books. When I read it, I always find myself making lists of books to give as gifts. One that’s on my list right now is “Buying, Training & Caring for Your Dinosaur” by Laura Rennert, which sounds like fun for my favorite young dinosaur-lovers.
Picnic Basket readers were probably among the first to know about “Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith,” by Deborah Heiligman, a book that’s just been nominated for a National Book Award.
Deborah’s decision to set up a blog for book recommendations underscores my impression that our favorite book choices often come from other readers. Deborah quotes Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, saying, “Nothing influences a person more than a recommendation from a trusted friend.”
What books would you recommend?