Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Girls Don’t Cry: No, I Don’t Know What You Should Read!

Posted by

Book Girls Don’t Cry is a feature where we will discuss/vent/advise on a bookish topic. This feature is co-hosted with the lovely Amy at Book Loving Mom.


Readers Against Recommendations!

I am not a fan of recommending books to others – strangers especially! I know, it should come with being an avid reader, and especially a blogger, but I hate it. Don’t get me wrong. I love giving my opinion on books I have read. I love telling everyone to read this book I just read and loved. I even love back and forth “hey you should read this” chats with other bloggers – which happen on Twitter regularly. But that’s not what I mean. I mean in the cases where I’m asked to select books for others to read. Like, I will get a random inbox message from a past co-worker I haven’t spoken to in years who’s asking me what book they should bring on vacation. Or a new Goodreads user who emails me with “what books should I gift my 16yo niece?” (I swear this happened!) with no hints on what kind of reader they even are. Wait.. what am I? Your magic crystal ball? I swear, this happens at least once every couple of months. It’s as if people on my Facebook/GR think I will know exactly what they will love because I read a lot. Well, nope! One problem may be that I read a lot of genres – I can jump from paranormal to horror to contemporary in the same week. But I completely blank out when someone asks me straight up, to recommend them a book.

Now, you ask me what kind of books I would recommend if you loved The Hunger Games. Ok, at least that gives me some kind of clue to what books you like and I’ll throw you a few links your way. But even then, I could recommend you 50 books easily, so picking only a few and hoping they’re the right ones for you? WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME!! Honestly, most times I will just send them a link to my Goodreads shelf (and then they’re like… but which one is the best)? O_O *twitch*

For friends who I do know enough to send a few personalized recs their way, I still dislike it. Because what if they don’t like the book I recommend? What if they hate it? Where will we stand as friends if they do?? (that last one is a joke… kinda) But really, I could be responsible for making them waste all those reading hours they will never get back! Oh and if we talk about the opposite there for a minute. I’m always nervous reading a book that was highly recommended to me – or gifted – by a good friend of family. Gah!

Yes, I know that taste differs and no one should expect to love everything everyone else love – lord knows I’ve been the black sheep enough to know this, but still. When someone wants me to tell them what books they should bring on vacation (this was the most recent rec question I got), I cringe!


How do you feel about recommending books to strangers, or friends?

Questions about blogging or anything book related?
Have topic suggestions for future discussions?
Leave a topic suggestion or ask a question via this form!
You know you love me!
XOXO, Book Girl

The following two tabs change content below.
Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

Latest posts by Giselle (see all)

37 Responses to “Book Girls Don’t Cry: No, I Don’t Know What You Should Read!”

    • Giselle

      Right? I’m always like O_O and recommend something obvious like THG or Harry Potter lol! Not many of my local friends read, so when they DO decide to actually read a book once every 3 years they think I’m going to know exactly what they love.

  1. Valeria @ A Touch of Book Madness

    Lol! This is so true! How do people expect us to guess what they would like? We are not fortune cookies. It is so hard for me to even recommend books to close friends. Because I’ve been wrong before, even if we enjoy most of the same books, and it sucks! I know what I like, but that doesn’t make me an expert in everyone’s book tastes, right?

    It’s funny and awkward how sometimes people don’t think this stuff through.

    Although, I have to admit, nothing this random has ever happened to me.

    • Giselle

      Recommending to friends is the worst bc I think – what if they hate it?? Plus I can have pretty different taste than the majority sometimes. I do get tons of random questions it’s so odd. I must attract the weirdos!

  2. Carrie

    I’m with you on this. I don’t like it. A close friend is different when I already know they’re reading preferences, but like the examples you mentioned above, I don’t like it.

    I had a co-worker who said and I quote… “my wife is looking for something to read, and hey you read a lot, what should I tell her to read next?” Seriously? How the bloody h@!! should I know? I barely know the woman!

    Nope, not a fan!

    • Giselle

      Bahaha questions like the wife one make me cringe. As if we know exactly what everyone should read bc we read a lot? Umm no. Give her 50 shades of grey and they might not ever ask again! Lol!

  3. Ashley

    This is EXACTLY why I started my book blog. I had so many friends who knew how much I read and when they were at B&N they would call or text me and ask what book I should read. Haha. I loved it, personally. But it got so difficult keeping all of my books that I’ve read straight, so I told them I would make them a book blog. They can read all of my reviews and pick from those. Lol.

    The most frequent question I still get is “what is the most recent book you read?” And that one is a lot easier. They just want something and don’t usually care what it is. They just want to read.

    But yeah, I can see how this gets annoying as hell. Lol. Great, great topic, lady!

    • Giselle

      I do like how I can just give them a link to my blog or Goodreads read shelf and say “pick one you think you’d like!” it’s convenient for that! The most recent book I don’t mind at all. Or if they ask me the last book I loved. Bc that’s my opinion so if they don’t love it also, well too bad bc I didn’t tell them to read it >.<

  4. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

    It doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers you, but I do see your point. I often think when I read something amazing that EVERYONE should love it, which I know is not necessarily true! I actually have the opposite problem that you do. My friends who know I love to read think THEY can recommend books to ME, and they never even come close to recommending something I’d be interested in. In fact I have friends that give me books, saying “Oh you love to read, you’ll love this.” It’s like they don’t even bother to read my blog to see what types of books I normally read! It drives me CRAZY. OK, now I’ve gone on a rant in a different direction, sorry!

    • Giselle

      Oh you know – I very rarely get recommended books by my friends. I should start asking THEM what they’d recommend just to see if they even know my reading habits >.< Probably not lol!

  5. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Dude, I’ve gotten these random emails asking me for recommendations too! I don’t know you, how on Earth do you want me to recommend books to you! Ugh. I tend not to recommend books to specific people, but I do recommend them in my reviews because I’m petrified of the idea that a person I recommend a book to won’t like it. It makes me feel guilty and sad. It happened to me recently. I’ve been pushing a book on a friend of mine for months now and she finally gave in and read it only to not love it.
    So yeah! I’m with you. I don’t like doing recommendations very much (although I did tell you to go read Rites of Passage yesterday! But I promise you I’m doing it for selfish reasons. I need the author to write a companion novel and she’s only going to do it if her book sells well! 😛 ).
    I do like getting recs for books from close friends though!
    Great post!

    • Giselle

      Right? Strangers on Goodreads think we know what they will like O_O I don’t get it. Unless they just want a few titles of the most hyped books but I’m usually the black sheep on those anyways. And it’s the WORST when you bug a friend to read a book and they hate it. It happened to me once, too, I felt terrible! But when they love it as much as you do it’s worth it! Maybe I need friends with better taste lol!! And you know, I mind much less when it’s recs from other bloggers bc I know that they know it’s not my fault if they hate it or vice versa >.< So keep the recs coming, lady! Plus you and I often agree on books, anyways! I do have Rites of Passage from EW so I'll bump it up! (You made it sounds awesome, too!)

  6. Lola

    I only giving recommendations if I really know that person’s reading tastes really well, which actually is only the case with my sister and boyfriend. In most other cases I just find it too difficult to adequately predict which book someone will like or not. I once had a friend of mine who doesn’t read a lot ask me for recommendations and I just told her that I couldn’t give her any as I didn’t know her reading tastes well enough. Giving recommendations is really difficult.
    When I recommend a book to someone I also feel kinda responsible for them liking the book. It just feels like it’s my fault if they don’t like it as I didn’t give them a right recommendation.

    • Giselle

      Same here. I only recommend books to Jenni bc I know her taste and how they are compared to mine. Anyone else, if I must recommend specific titles I’ll just go with what’s popular in general since that’s safer >.< And those who don't read a lot it's even worse bc if they read like 10 books a year, I don't want to give her one she'd hate you know. Choose those 10 books very carefully!

  7. Ren

    I’m the same way. If they have Twitter or a goodreads account I’ve even found myself stalking that while they’re reading to see if they’re liking the book I recommended or not. I think I’m worse when it’s one recommended to me that I ended up not enjoying though since I never want to hurt the persons feelings when they ask what I thought.

    • Giselle

      Haha I do the same with stalking but more on GR than on Twitter (if they update their statuses). Hating books that were recommended to me is annoying, too. And even worse when it’s a book that was gifted. I had one once where my friend loved it so much she bought me a copy and I ended up giving it a 3 star and I felt so bad (even though 3 is not that bad). First world problems! 😉

      • Ren

        Haha Exactly. It’s bad though because they spent money on it & you want to love it, but when they ask it turns into one of those “it was really…something” moments.

  8. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    The question I hate more is ‘What is the book you’re reading about?’ by someone who doesn’t even really read. I used to read during my lunch every day at works and someone always had to ask me what I was reading. I ended up reading in my car…

    I have books that I think most people would like that I would recommend like The Sea of Tranquility. They might hate it but that’s okay…
    I don’t think I’ve been asked this question though.

  9. Lauren

    I get this question a lot too and it’s always hard to answer unless I really know the person well or if we’re in the middle of a big books discussion and they mention loving a book that is similar to one I loved. Can’t believe strangers on GR asked you for gift recs – so weird!

  10. ShootingStarsMag

    I often get asked about recommendations at the library, whether it’s for books or for movies, and it’s so horrible. Even with an idea of what they like, I find recommending things to people kind of difficult. I LOVE picking out gift ideas, but books/movies are a bit more difficult.

  11. Dreams

    I don’t recommend nearly as much books as I want to for those reasons. Normally I’ll namedrop while my book club girls and I are discussing books. If I get any bites, then I’ll talk more about the book. If not, I’ll sit alone with my feels.

    But as far as people asking more for recommendations, I get very few of those, so I’m able to just coast by when I do get one.

  12. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    Oh Giselle I can totally feel you. I hate when strangers ask me what books they should read if they loved book X. Like dude, don’t do that to me. I’m okay with recommending my friends books because I do find it easier, even though I really hate it when they say “Anything” when i ask them what genre. Last year, someone looked at me as if to say “what does genre even mean?” lol.

    Fabulous post, loverly! <33

  13. Pili

    Oh Giselle, I agree completely!!
    For my friends, I can read a book and think that it’s one they’d like and be totally up their ally, if I know them well enough! And I usually gift those on birthdays and such.
    But for people I don’t know well enough like co-workers or the like?? How should I know??? I know what I like and what I think it’s an awesome book, but I have no bloody clue if you’re gonna like it or not! EVEN MORE, I read mostly in English as of late, so most of the books I read are not translated to Spanish yet!

  14. Kristin@Blood,Sweat and Books

    I feel your pain. Not only is it frustrating trying to limit books down to recommend (because let’s face it I could recommend a library if you let me) but I can’t magically transport myself into the mind of the reader and know what they like. For example: Two people could both say they like Historical Fiction but one hates when it is Romance based and the other only likes Pre-Civil War Books with lots of action. I recommend something and because they left those details out instantly my choices are bad. Now make those book recommendations gifts and then I have to hear about how so & so hated it for an eternity all because the original person failed to leave out some crucial details. In conclusion, I very rarely recommend books face to face unless I know for damn sure it is something the other person will enjoy.

  15. Savannah

    I don’t recommend books to people unless they ask. Usually I’ll get, “Is there anymore books like (Insert popular book here) and I’ll pass on a few recs. But not to total strangers.

  16. Jasprit

    Me and my best friend have quite similar tastes in books, so I can usually recommend her a book without having to worry about it. I don’t think I would feel the same way about a stranger though. I do however get the urge to encourage a random person to give a book a go when they pick it up in a bookstore (especially more so when I’ve loved the book). Great post Giselle!

  17. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    It’s SO hard to give a recommendation on a vague request. I need more information about the things someone like before I am able to give them a recommendation. If someone loves romance, I don’t think they would care for one of my Dystopian recs. I really don’t mind helping someone out I don’t know, but at least give me something to work with.

    I sometimes push my sister into reading something and it’s almost always a success, because I know her. I wish there were more people I could help in real life, but I don’t have other book loving friends.

  18. Katie

    I don’t usually mind giving recommendations, but I do see your point. I’ve also never gotten messages like the ones you described – those would be difficult to answer!

  19. Alexa

    It can be really hard to recommend a book to someone. Especially because I read a lot of different genres and I read middle grade, YA and adult. What I read when I was 16 probably would be shunned by most mothers if I recommended to have their 16 year old girl read a slutty adult romance book lol.
    It is really hard to rec books but I will do it from time to time if I find something amazing that I think that person will like if I’ve known them for long enough.

  20. Marni J

    I don’t like giving one on one recommendations to others because my taste in books may be so different than theirs. I don’t request recommendations either because of the same reason. I’ve had people totally fawn over a book to find myself wondering why, after reading it. I’ve also really liked a book to see others not liking it, and than I try not to second guess myself. I’ve come to the conclusion that books are like anything else, some will like them and some won’t, and that makes everything seem so much better.