Why Book Recommendations Are A Waste of Time (In My Opinion)

It is clear that I’m a huge kindle fan. Not just a kindle fan (even though that is my e-reader of choice), but overall an e-reader fan. Over the course of the last few years I have had issues with finding new books to read. When I ask for recommendations, I become more lost, than if I just picked something at random. So while I can’t solve the problem, I will not give recommendations, or not be offended, if the person doesn’t read it.

Each person has their own taste in reading. For me, it takes me a while to read a book, almost six weeks for an average sized novel. Mainly because I read right before bed, when I get a chance. I also have the problem that I cannot stop in the middle. I refuse to stop a book, unless it is so bad. No book has been “so bad” that I have stopped. Reading your recommendation is a six week endeavor, therefore it is a huge decision for me. For me this is the same for music and movies, however the difference is the duration of time. Four minutes for a song or ninety minutes for a movie is not a huge sacrifice. I will say that I don’t watch that many movies because of the 90 – 120 minutes that will generally be bad (read about the 99%).

There is no pandora for books. There is not 64 different elements to a book that pandora uses to do recommendations. Each person is uniquely different, and wants uniquely different books. With that said, you still need to find recommendations. Best seller lists panders to the cheapest books, and the most feel good genre. As I’m writing this, the top ten books are The Hunger Games trilogy, and the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, with the set of each series also on the list. That great book is rarely found on a top ten list.

Editor’s choices are much better, but you are clueless to whom the editor is. The editor (collectively) chooses a book that the majority of people will like. Remember the majority of readers like cheap and easy fiction that is romance based (look at the top 100 sellers). So while there are good books, usually, it isn’t that great of a recommendation engine. I want to throw the conspiracy theory that payola is involved.

Reviews have the same problem that comments have. People are so polarized when it comes to their feelings that they write very persuasively. Nobody can agree on the merit of a book, and that causes hesitation because it is a financial and time commitment.  How can you read a 4 star book?  What makes the book 4 stars vs 5 stars?  How can you read a book when a few people have said “the ending is terrible?”  Is that an appropriate review?

What one needs to do is find someone who identifies with what you read, and that is HARD. There are social reading apps, and while I subscribe to them, I haven’t used them well. You want to have more friends, but those friends make the “what your friends are reading” feature useless.  My nerdy friends are hugely into Sci-Fi, which I can’t stand.  Those same nerdy friends are the only ones who use internet based recommendation services.

My list for a book is extensive. First off, I do not like fiction. I read mainly to learn something. Fantasy worlds, or a false sense of reality, I rather skip. Conversely, I’ll read history books, which is just the opposite of what I just said. Finally when I say fiction, I’ll take a no- true story that has a real life basis.

Science fiction, I do not want to read. Mainly because it violates the first rule. I bring this genre up specifically because I have other issues with it. Sci-fi is just too long. It also is written in elaborate series. So while I’m stereotyping sci-fi, it brings up the second issue that I rather skip.

Series are great if you want to continue the story. I don’t. Series mean there are more books to read, and you MUST finish it. Obviously if the first book is terrible, you can stop there, but if you enjoy the series, you have two more additional problems: 1) You have to read all the books, and 2) you have to wait for the next book. Ask any Robert Jordan fan, and they will elaborate more on this.

As a math nerd I am constantly questioned on why I do not like science fiction. Well I’ve explained why, and the short answer of it doesn’t appeal to me, gets people upset. It also reduces my recommendation pool because being a geek and liking Sci-fi goes together.

I do not want to read young adult, nor romance.  It just doesn’t appeal to me.  Like I’ve been saying all post, I want to learn something.

Finally, I want to read only Kindle books.  I have already documented that I have to read on an ereader.  I will not read a book that is on paper.  Kindle only books also has the implication that it was written recently.  I know classics have been ported over, but classics are some person (or publishers) reformatting.  I want books that have been published specifically for kindle at the same time all the other editions went out. What I’m trying to say is that I want something recent.  That may sound obnoxious, but that is what I want to read.

If you want to see the hodgepodge of books that I have read, friend me on goodreads

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