On Helping Someone Catch The Reading Bug + Recommending Books You’ve Never Read

I talked earlier this week about how since I’ve started blogging I’ve become a more confident recommender of books (or book pusher…whatever you want to call it) mostly because I’ve read more books and I’m really aware of everything out there. I really do feel comfortable recommending books to people based on what I know they have liked and already read, their personality or just based on a gut feeling sometimes. Obviously I love it when they love a book and come back for more. I love it even more if I really help them catch the reading bug.

I have a recent personal success story I want to share in which I’ve helped someone catch the reading bug and they keep coming back for more.

So my sister….she’s 24 and she loves the idea of reading she just really lacks concentration/motivation most of the time and just doesn’t really make time for it. She reads probably 1-2 books a year but really hasn’t read much as of recently because she has kids now and was busy with work. But when she was reading before she loved things like Twilight or any YA and Adult romance (but not bodice rippers). So recently she asked me for some books because she isn’t working full time anymore so I scoured my shelf and pick up Crash & Clash by Nicole Williams (I’d never read them but had received them for review) and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (never read that either).

Later that night I get a text saying : “Damn you. I started that Crash book and I can’t put it down.”

And then the next day I get a text saying she was done with Clash. IN TWENTY FOUR HOURS MY SISTER, WHO READS MAYBE 2 BOOKS A YEAR, JUST READ 2 BOOKS IN 24 HOURS! And then a few days later she finished City of Bones!!

My reaction?

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And then once again when my brain could comprehend what she said for real.

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And then pretty much I realized I am the best recommender of books EVER (I kid, I kid :P)

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But so I was thinking about how happy I am that I can feel confident in recommending things that I may not have read before. Before I always felt confined to the books I’ve read but now I feel very confident in going outside of my genres even and recommending books that I’ve never read. I feel like a combination of my knowledge of books and what is out there, what books are about, who liked them AND knowing the person and what they like typically yields a very good result. I mean, sure there are times when they didn’t LOVE a book but I feel like, in general, I’m ok with giving recommendations even if I haven’t read it but know what it is about and what kind of readers have had success with the book.

Questions for you (feel free to answer all or whichever one you want):

1. Do you recommend books you’ve never read? Why or why not?

2. What sort of things factor into your recommendation/ HOW do you formulate a recommendation? For me, it’s knowing what they have liked already and just their personality and then thinking about books that would fit the bill. Sometimes if I just feel like a story will resonate with them I might recommend it but preface why it might be different.

2. Do you have anyone in your life that you’ve really had success in recommending books to (besides bloggers)? Do they read in the same genre as you?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. YEAH!!!! That is awesome Jamie and .. yeah for your sister 🙂

    To answer your question, yes I do recommend books I haven’t read to people I think they might love it. I have some tough calls at work because most of my reading-workmates are male. Of coruse recomending books to them is not as easy, but whenever I stumble upon a book I think might also appeal to a male reader I go and tell them about.

    And.. I love it sooo much when they are coming back and tell me that they loved the book and if I have some new recomendations! Makes my day 🙂

  2. Who’s awesome?! You are!

    My friend reads the complete opposite of what I read, yet I recommend her books all the time. I have blogger friends like you and various others who read ALL types and I don’t mind recommending them something based on a friends review. If I trust/agree with you on books that we love and you love what I call a “non-Ashley” book I have no problem recommending that to friends.

    That being said when I love a book and they hate it, that hurts. (Of course it does!) But I generally think about personality and is it a “them” book.

  3. Thats awesome and makes me wish the people I recommend books to would actually read them ! Ive had some bad luck recommending book in the past. Just the other day I had my friend give me ChaosWalking by Patrick Ness (A series I absolutely loved) because it was too hard to follow for her. But I have had some luck in the past as well, I recommended The Hunger Games to my sister and we now bond in our obsession with the yrilogy

  4. Trilogy* haha

  5. The combination of things we have come to know as blogging readers does put us in a good position to recommend. That said my recommendations haven’t been great so far.

    I would recommend books I’d never read if I had a good knowledge of them. The factor question, what you’ve said. You’ve got to know what they liked already and think about what would work for them, rather than just saying “here’s my favourite book”.

    Here’s hoping you help your sister get into the habit of reading again 🙂

  6. 1. In the library world we are taught to suggest rather than recommend when library patrons ask us what they should read. It helps take some of the pressure off. I do suggest books I haven’t read because it has to be based on what the other person is interested in and they may be looking for something I don’t read (like a good Western or horror novel).

    2. I ask people what other books or authors they have liked as well as what they haven’t liked and why. It can also be helpful to ask what they are in the mood to read. If I am really stumped I ask what movies or TV shows they like too because that can lead to some good book suggestions (or they may not know that their favorite show/movie is based on a book which you can then suggest they try too)

    3. I’ve had success in suggesting books to my sister (The Hunger Games, Sophie Kinsella, and a few other YA titles) and I’ve also had success with library patrons and my coworkers.

    It is a great feeling to be able to help someone find the right book and I’m glad you took a chance and suggested some books to your sister. Hopefully you’ve inspired her to read more! Great post!

  7. I tend to only recommend books that I’ve read. If I’ve heard good things about a book but haven’t read it myself, I will sometimes recommend it with a disclaimer. That’s rare because I’m such an impulse nerd, if I here about a good book, I’ve generally downloaded a sample to my phone before I get to the end of the review.

    My sister was the same as yours (not really reading all that often but not opposed to the idea) and I recently got her hooked on YA with The Night Circus. She’s a set designer and so I thought the vivid imagery would appeal to her and boy was I right. Since then I’ve got her hooked on Laini Taylor and Melina Marchetta both of which I recommended based on the richness of the story and poetry of the writing. We’ve totally clicked on reading styles and talk about books all the time now, which is awesome because no one else in my outside the internet life is all that into YA.

  8. As a teacher, I suggest books I haven’t read all the time! I usually know them as good read alikes for other books or have heard good things from other teachers/bloggers. I try not to suggest just one book; instead I like to give them a stack to pick from so they can decide what sounds best. I really love suggesting/recommending books and then hearing the follow up after they’ve finished it 🙂

    I’ve had good luck recommending to most of my students and in my personal life, my sister. She just graduated college and is starting to read for pleasure again. I got her Divergent for Christmas and she really liked it, so I’ve been giving her other recs too.

  9. This is exactly what happened with my younger sister. My sis, Suzi, is NOT a reader. In fact, I believe before I told her to read The Hunger Games, she had never completed a book in her life. But she read all three Hunger Games in 4 days. And then the best thing happened, she kept on reading. Next it was Divergent and Insurgent, then it was Girl of Fire and Thorns, then it was Defiance and Graceling and so on. Turns out, she’s a faster reader than me! Not only has she discovered a new, *healthy* hobby, but not she and I are closer than ever because of our shared love for YA.

    So THANK YOU book and THANK YOU Jamie for sharing this post!

  10. I recommended a book I’d never read to a friend who never reads, and he told me that I lost all credibility in his eyes because why was I recommending something I hadn’t tried yet? I tried to explain that after hearing his reasoning for why he didn’t read and what he liked, I felt I could make a reasonable recommendation…but he wasn’t having it. Some people are just not into that. So now I’m very careful to only recommend books I’ve read…

    • That said, when I’m buying books for other people, I do end up going outside my comfort zone. I got a book for my fiance for Christmas that was one of his fave authors, so that was easy, and he’s absolutely loving it. But then I went a little outside and found him a really wacky non-fiction book, and he REALLY loved that one and has been quoting the philosophies to me ever since.

      So yeah, success! But I think you just have to be careful with who you’re recommending to.

  11. 1. I rarely recommend books I haven’t read, but if I do, I make sure to point out the fact that I haven’t read it. That way, if the book is terrible or they hate it, I can always say that I didn’t know what was in the book. If they love it though, I give myself a pat on the back. Lol.

    2. I never realized it until recently, but I don’t recommend books a lot. Not because there aren’t some books out there that I would love to share, but because most of my friends are really into reading like me, and we tend to read the same things. But when I do recommend books, I take the person’s personality and tastes into consideration. I wouldn’t tell my brother to read a mushy romantic story; for him, I’d offer books that are sci-fi or epic fantasy or satirical humor. The other thing I take into consideration is the book itself. If it’s a fantastic and well-written book that I think would appeal to a wide variety of people, I’ll recommend it to everyone, regardless of their personal tastes or reading history. One of the few books that fits this category is The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve been pushing that book on everyone.

    3. The people I’ve had the best success with are my family and two of my coworkers. My two coworkers love to read, and they tend to read a lot of different genres so I usually just lend them my own books that I love. (I also lend out a lot of my movies & TV shows; I should just start a library).

    But the most success I’ve had is with my siblings. I’m the oldest of four; I have one brother (25) and two sisters (19 & 11). My brother and youngest sister love to read, and I’ve had so much fun lending them books or recommending ones I think they’ll love. I got my brother to read The Hunger Games trilogy recently. And I just gave my sister a pile of my old childhood/pre-teen books to read after I finished reading The Lord of the Rings to her.

    But I really count my success by my 19-year-old sister. She doesn’t enjoy reading (she and my mom both love TV & movies more than books), so any time I recommend a book to her and she actually reads and enjoys it, I feel like I did a good job. A couple years ago, I read Beastly and then gave it to her to read, and she loved it so much that she actually re-read it. That was probably my biggest success with her (I don’t always succeed; I gave her Altered last month and she didn’t like it all). I also know that I can recommend books to her if she really enjoys the movie version. I’ve told her how good The Hunger Games is, but it wasn’t until she saw the movie last month that she decided she was going to read it herself (after the semester’s over). She also plans to read the Harry Potter series sometime as well.

    Wow… this is a really long response. Lol. Congrats on your success with your sister! You definitely deserve to feel awesome. 🙂

  12. By the way, I bought Crash because of that tweet! It totally convinced me 🙂
    I have a really hard time recommending books I haven’t read. I feel like if I don’t know HOW it reads (not necessarily the subject matter, but the way the book FEELS), I have a hard time telling someone they’ll enjoy it or not.
    I always get so scared making recommendations because sometimes I can be spot on and other times people will HATE the choice I made! I get so nervous when people tell me they picked up a book because of me! Haha.

  13. Jamie, girl, MAJOR kudos! That’s so awesome your sis loved the books you recced to her, and even MORE impressive since you hadn’t read them.

    I don’t think I could recommend a book I haven’t read – if I don’t know how *I* felt about it, I couldn’t really give someone my whole-hearted recommendation to read it. I might say, “I’ve heard good things about [title] but haven’t read it, so I’m not sure if you’ll like it.” I prefer to recommend books I’ve read.

    I also try to take into account how the person feels about various genres/sub-genres. If they HATE fantasy books, I’m probably not going to recommend Shadow and Bone, even though personally, I found it amazing. That sort of thing. But I am pretty confident in recommending if I know something about the person’s taste!

  14. That’s awesome about your sister! I wouldn’t say that I recommend books I haven’t read, but I do recommend authors — like, I love Neil Gaiman and recommend his work all the time, even though I haven’t read ALL of his books. I’ll also recommend books at the library if people are looking at them and I know I’ve read lots of positive things about it … usually that leads me to read the book, too!

    I don’t have a lot of readers in my life … my mom is a huge reader and I get bummed when she reads something I LOVED only to say that it was alright. Really, in general, I don’t recommend books enough. I always feel like the person who reads a recommendation of mine will hate the book and then I’d be sad. 🙁

    Great post!

  15. Wow, what an awesome story! She read those even faster than I blazed through the Hunger Games series! I LOVE that she’s caught the reading bug now! I wish I had such a success story. Actually, I think I am my sister’s recommendation success story. Well, actually…

    I got her hooked on YA when I recommended Twilight to her (I saw the trailer and thought she’d find it interested). She devoured those books so fast. Then like years later, she recommended a couple of YA books to me, and then I got hooked! Funny how it worked out that way. 🙂

  16. Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads says:

    Such a great post! I usually recommend books that I’ve read, but I think that these types of recommendations come with added pressure because then the reader knows that they’re reading one of my favourite books and they really hope they’ll like it. Just like when I start reading a book that my trusted blogging buddies have gushed about — I always start reading with the expectation that I’ll love it, and am so disappointed when it’s not the perfect book. But I think that recommending a book that I haven’t read takes that pressure to love it away. I did that once when I bought Twilight for a friend for Christmas. I’d heard a lot of buzz online about the book and read some positive reviews. (This was long before the movies and I think there were only two books out at the time). My friend was a huge Buffy fan, so I thought she’d like it. She sent me a similar text to your sister’s, accusing me of buying her crack for Christmas ;). So it worked out, but I have’t done it again since then…time to remedy that soon!

  17. I recommend books I haven’t read all the time, but usually only to two people – my brother and two of my close friends. Often I’ll read a review or a description of a book online and think that even though it’s not really my thing, one of them will like it (only ever one, as far as I know they have zero overlapping areas of interest.) Usually it comes down to having read the description and thinking of one of them, but I wouldn’t recommend until I’d read a couple of positive reviews. I know now what sort of thing would turn them off a book instantly, so I can avoid those easily.

    Knowing what interests them, both in terms of reading and other things. My brother, for example, had never read a zombie book, but was obsessed with the Walking Dead, so when I came across World War Z, I made him read it. And he loved it. Knowing what books people liked is so useful, especially if you read similar things.

    Again, really just my brother and a couple of my friends. My brother and I don’t really read the same genre since 90% of the books I read have female MCs and he has a real thing against that for some reason I don’t understand. One of my friends will read pretty much anything I read, though she has her own extra areas of interest, but the other is really fussy. Certain key words or even covers will just make her turn her nose up (which I do, too) but it’s infuriating when it’s something I loved! Still, I finally wore her down and made her read Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” last year, and she had to concede that it was great.

    Great post, Jamie, it’s actually really made me think!

  18. Hooray for being an awesome book recommender (a.k.a. book pusher)! It’s always an awesome feeling when you “score” with someone after recommending books.

    I think I have recommended a few books I’ve never read, but have heard of or seen reviews for. Sometimes, the stories are just not ones I’d enjoy… but I feel like other people would. So yes, it’s happened!

    Whenever I recommend books, I consider the person’s personality and the amount of time he/she has to devote to reading. Sometimes, I’ll recommend something a bit out of their comfort zone as a challenge though!

    I think my best book recommending successes are with Macky (my hubby) and Mela (my cousin). They’ve taken to books I’ve recommended like a fish to water – and have also recommended some awesome books to me too!

  19. Good for you! Blogging has made me much better at recommending with confidence, whether I’ve read the book or not. I have to recommend books I haven’t read — because I’m a librarian (and I haven’t read every book in the library …yet…) I think what is harder is to give an opinion about a book I didn’t really like. I’ll have kids ask me, “Is this a good book?” And that can be hard if I didn’t like it — but I try to be honest and tell them ABOUT the book, rather than my opinion of it. Also, I never LIE about reading a book. If I haven’t read it, I tell them. But usually, I can say “I’ve read a lot of reviews of it!”

  20. Yes, I do! Because I would suck at my job if I didn’t. 🙂 I agree with Annette though, if I haven’t read something I’m up front about it or say something like, I’ve heard good things about this one and you might like it.

  21. I’ve found that I can judge the books that people will like by their personalities. I’ve started to recommend more books to people and, although some people are just so stubborn and won’t try and enjoy the books I recommend, most people enjoy them. Great post! 🙂

  22. I feel pretty comfortable recommending books to people if I haven’t read them before but I always like to tell people that and let them know that I’ve had a reading/blogging friend that read the book and gave it high praise – and I also ask them to let me know how they liked it when they’re done. So I’ll know if it worked for them or not. I GENUINELY want to know if people do not enjoy the books I recommend because I try hard to get to know the reading styles of people – in real life and people that I interact with plenty online – so that helps me to be able to say OH YES THIS IS A JAMIE BOOK or OH NO, I DON’T THINK YOU’D LOVE THAT ONE, JAMIE! MAYBE CHOOSE SOMETHING ELSE? I think people appreciate knowing that you are learning and trying to remember their reading preferences too, and they take your recommendations more seriously.

    I’ve had quite a few people that I’ve had success with recommendations and I sincerely think it is all in getting to know the likes/dislikes of the reader. Do they mostly want HEA’s? Do they mostly want those crazy dystopians? Do they read mostly contemporaries? If they’re guy friends and love dystopians, they probably don’t want the ones like Shatter Me that are heavy on romance, so perhaps less romance with the dystopians? Things like that. Mad success with my reading friends. AND they sure as heck will give me all the feedback whether or not I ask for it! But I love that.

    Good for your sister! So glad she found some books that she enjoyed! From there, her reading tastes can just branch out even further!! YAY!!!!!

  23. I have a success story as well, so I know how you feel! It felt so awesome to get someone who’d hardly ever read before to read (though it wasn’t based on my recommendations, just me constantly talking about books). I’m not that great at recommending books to people but I have recommended books I haven’t read before, if I’ve read reviews about them from people I trust.

  24. That’s really exciting about your sister – good for her! I hope she’s able to keep it up. 🙂
    I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it’s rare that I’ll recommend books I haven’t read. I have at least a couple dozen books on my shelves that I HAD to buy or that I won and got for review but haven’t read yet, and I’ve loaned some out to one person whose reading tastes I know well. If I didn’t know her reading tastes and personality, I don’t think I’d be confident recommending a book I hadn’t read and couldn’t specifically say ‘this is why you’ll like it’. It’s more ‘you might like it because apparently it has this, this, and this.’

    ~Marie @ Ramblings of a Daydreamer

  25. The great thing about being in the blogging world is that you get in touch with these people with different tastes than you, and you begin to see what certain people do like. Like, I stay away from vampire books and won’t touch them with a ten foot pole. But one of my friends does like them, and I’ll probably recommend Vampire Academy to her soon – since I know how people love those books in the blogging world. Haha, thanks for writing this post, actually – I really should recommend those to her xD

  26. Yes, I do. I did it with Jennifer Weiner’s Fly Away Home which I have not read. I recommended it to the librarian and she loved it so I believe I will love it too. If I really liked the book and I think the person will like the book too I recommend it to them. I don’t really have a success story. My sister and I recommend books back and forth because we like the same type of books.

  27. I don’t recommend books I haven’t read because I’m worried that the writing will be terrible or there is some hidden theme that the description hasn’t included that someone will hate, haha! However, I love recommending books, but I have just a handful that I push on anyone that likes fantasy because that’s how I do >.>. My problem with recommended books is that there are two types of people in my life: avid readers who have a lot they are planning to read already or people with absolutely no time to read fiction ever. I love swapping books with my bookish friends, but they don’t really need my recommendations, haha!

    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

  28. I had a similar experience with a friend who has two little kids and works full time and doesn’t have a ton of time for reading. I recommended Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon because the ebook was on sale a while ago and even though it took her forever to finish she really liked it and I felt awesome–not just because she liked my rec but also because I exposed her to a book she might not have heard of otherwise.

  29. I’ve recommended a lot of books I’ve never read, just because I’ve read reviews for them and think they’re books that my friends/family might like. But I always tell them that I haven’t read the book, so I can’t endorse it personally, just that I’ve heard it’s good. BUT I definitely tend to recommend more books that I’ve read – I think I’ve recommended DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE to everyone I know. lol I also got one of my college professors to read CLOCKWORK ANGEL and she loved it 🙂

  30. You’re officially my hero! Convincing people who think that they hate to read that they just haven’t found the right book yet is practically a life goal for me. As far as I’m concerned, hitting the right two or three books can turn you into a lifelong reader.

    As for your question: I don’t usually rec books I haven’t read myself, but occasionally I’ll rec a book I didn’t like all that much because I know it’s right up someone else’s alley.

    And definitely read City of Bones! There are some slow patches, but I just finished reading it out loud to my mom (because that’s what I do to torment her when there’s a book I think she’ll like that she refuses to read…she still owes me majorly for force feeding her Harry Potter way back when). The Mortal Instruments series is a lot of fun if you like urban fantasy and if you pretend that it ends with book three. 🙂

  31. Bahaha, book pusher. I could only think of this.

    See, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend those books you gave to her for you (though I’ve only read City of Bones), but the important thing is to know your audience. Like, I feel like I know what kind of contemporaries you enjoy, though I’m less sure about fantasy things.

    I do recommend books I’ve not read sometimes, but generally they’re ones my friends have read or that I know a lot about.

    Factor in the person’s favorite reads and what they liked about them. Do they like a particular romance formula? Do they read for character, action or world building? Things like that. 🙂

    • Oh, forgot to answer the recommending books to people in real life thing. I recommend a bunch of books to my parents, and they’re mostly successes. A few they haven’t liked as much as I would have thought, but I don’t think they’ve both hated something I’ve passed to them. There have been a couple mom loved and dad didn’t or vice versa. They both read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. Romances go to mom, and dystopias go to dad.

  32. What a great success story! I had similar success recommending Gone Girl to my sis – she loved it, and she’s not a big reader either.

    I have a few recs for your sister since she loved Crash and Clash: Easy by Tammara Webber, Losing It by Cora Carmack, and Hopeless by Colleen Hoover.

  33. I love getting my sisters to read good books as well. I buy a book for each of their birthdays and Christmas. My sisters are now texting me weekly for new title suggestions. I am a high school English teacher and constantly making suggestions, sometimes even books I haven’t read and I love the feeling I get when kids come back and absolutely loved the book. Creating readers is what I’m all about.

  34. I don’t recommended books I have never read unless its to my best friend..then I just suggest them

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