Botching a Book Recommendation…

Posted by Steph on May - 9 - 2013

I could kick myself for what happened the other day.  Have you ever been asked “What should I read next? I like to read everything.”? Typically it’s more of an “I like ‘such and such’ genre” and you pull out one of the old standby recommendations for the particular genre.  But when someone says they’ll read anything and you actually have options….that’s exciting.  However, I got overwhelmed…and then ended up recommending a book I hadn’t even read.  In my defense it is on my TBR list. It was a book I had heard good things about from others and it had won awards so I figured it was “safe” choice. I guess I was afraid of recommending a beloved book and then have them not enjoy it.  That’s the worst.  It’s nothing personal, but it always stinks when you LOVE a book and the person you recommend it just…doesn’t. It’s hard not to take it personally. 

Some of the books I wanted to recommend weren’t “in” the library at the time, but of course after the patron left I thought of a billion titles I could have told them about that I’d actually read.  Ugh, lesson learned: Keep an arsenal of recommendations on hand in case a similar situation ever arises again.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed when someone asked you to recommend them a book? Or has someone ever despised a book you recommended them?

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13 Responses so far.

  1. Briana says:

    I’ve definitely had people hate books I was sure they would love (people I know personally!) and even ones I’ve bought for them. It’s hard for them even to be polite about it when we’re Goodreads friends and I can see them give my gift 2 stars! It’s important to remember reading is a subjective experience, I suppose.

    • Steph says:

      It still hurts your heart a little when someone doesn’t share your love for a book 🙁 I’m always hesitant to read books others recommend to me too because I’m afraid I won’t like it and I’m really bad at lying (and now I have a blog and Goodreads account) so there’s really no way of not hurting their feelings…because they WILL find out.

  2. I always feel nervous recommending books! The other day, I met a Middle-Grade boy who loved to read (he was reading Lemony Snicket) and he wanted book recommendations from me when he heard that I was a book blogger. I managed to recommend Carl Hiaasen’s MG books, but my mind totally went blank on what other good MG boy-narrator books there were because I don’t read many of them (of course I could think of more once he left). But when you do get a recommendation right, it’s the greatest feeling! 🙂 Great post!

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

    • Steph says:

      Thanks! I feel like I should make lists for every possible reader recommendation situation like that…Then you could just whip out the list and voila you’d never “go blank” (that always happens to me when I get excited about making recommendations!). I suppose a list for every type of reader is, alas, unrealistic, but it may be a fun project when there is free time…(You’ve given me ideas! lol)
      Carl Hiaasen is a good recommendation in that situation though! And you’re right, hearing someone say they loved a book you recommended is so awesome 🙂 One of my favorite parts of the job!

  3. jennpower says:

    One tip I find works is recommend books by the same author or from the same time period.

  4. Charleen says:

    I rarely make personal recommendations for just this reason (though I suppose if I was a librarian it would be hard to get around that). I’ll write my reviews, and send them out into the world. I try to say stuff like, “This would be good if you like X, Y, and Z.” If someone asks, “What did you think of such-and-such?” I’ll tell them. But reading is SO subjective, I just get so squirmy about recommendations.

    • Steph says:

      Agreed…I’m terrified of making personal recommendations. Even if it is a book I absolutely love, I typically tell people “I’ve heard good things about this one…” or something to that effect so no one feels obligated to “like” it just because I do or unable to tell me it’s something they’ve already read and hated (that’s happened and then you can move on sooo much easier).
      Unless I’m recommending to kids or teens, then I will shamelessly tell them how much I love a book because sometimes that’s the only way they will read something.

  5. Yes, I find it difficult to know what someone will like. And like you, I have 20/20 hindsight when it comes to recommendations. 🙂

    • Steph says:

      At least I’m not the only one! It stinks when a particularly great one will pop in your head right after someone has left…

  6. rqpanda says:

    I always find the hardest recommendations to be when a parent asks for you to recommend a book for their child to get into reading. Sometimes the kids don’t have any preferences, so you have sort through their favorite topics (dragons? dinosaurs? basketball? tinkerbell?) for possible book ideas. Just as you described though, normally I think up a whole bunch of possibilities right after they’ve checked out the book I had just recommended. 🙂