Keeping Up With The Penguins

Reviews For The Would-Be Booklover

Where To Get Book Recommendations

One question I’m frequently asked is where I find all these books on my shelves. With between 500,000 and one million books traditionally published each year (four million, if you factor in self-published titles), the choices can feel overwhelming. When you find a source of book recommendations that sends a constant stream of five-star reads your way, that shit is more precious than gold. If you’re looking for resources to narrow down your search for your next great read, here are my suggestions on where to get book recommendations.

Where To Get Book Recommendations - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Podcasts

I’m a podcast junkie. It’s one of the few trends I jumped on right at the beginning. Back in the days when you had to search the iTunes store on your computer, download a few episodes of a podcast, manually transfer them across to your iPod (with a cord!), and listen to them with headphones connected by wires? Yep, I was there, and I was lovin’ it.

Podcasts are a goldmine for book recommendations, even if you don’t quite know what your tastes are or they’re very broad. If you find a few podcasters you vibe with, who post episodes regularly, you’ll have book recommendations on tap. Of course, taste in podcasts varies as widely as taste in books, so the best way to find ones that work for you are to sample as many as you can.

Personally, I get amazing book recommendations from Chat 10 Looks 3, What Should I Read Next, and (mostly) The To Read List Podcast. Seriously, The To Read List Podcast is the best (or worst, depending how you look at it) thing to happen to my own to-read list in a long, long time.

Check out my recommendations for more great book podcasts here.

Email Newsletters

I know, I know – no one likes a cluttered inbox! But if you’re judicious with your use of the “subscribe” button, it’s a great way to get book recommendations.

Firstly, you want to choose outlets that won’t email you too frequently, or will let you decide how frequently their emails come through.

Secondly, you want to look for outlets that are recommending books that will work for you.

The good news is, if you stuff up either of these steps, it’s easily remedied: just press “unsubscribe” and try something else.

If you notice there’s a particular imprint who publishes a lot of your favourite books (look over the spines on your bookshelf for regularly-occurring logos), head to their website and I can all but guarantee they’ll have an email newsletter you can subscribe to. If there’s a news site you regularly visit, see if they have a Books or Arts section newsletter.

Some of my best book recommendations come from Penguin, Buzzfeed Books, Book Riot, and Publishers Weekly.

And, not to shamelessly self-promote, but the Keeping Up With The Penguins email newsletter is pretty great!

Book Reviewers

Speaking of shameless self-promotion: book reviewers are one of your best sources of book recommendations.

Why? Well, we read and review books for that exact purpose.

And there’s no shortage of them! No matter your tastes, no matter your interests, someone out there is reading and recommending books you’ll love on the internet.

Now, being as I am a book reviewer myself, I get my book recommendations from dozens and dozens of wonderful readers in this space. It feels rude and mean to recommend just a few! So, I’m going to satisfy myself with giving just The Uncorked Librarian as an example – because Christine has been so wonderfully kind as to feature a lot of my own recommendations in her book lists!

#Bookstagram

Just about every social media platform has a corner carved out for readers, so you could find a group on Facebook or a list on Twitter to give you book recommendations easily enough… but #Bookstagram is uniquely addictive. It’s a treasure trove of beautiful pictures of wonderful books, all produced by some of the most dedicated readers you’ll ever encounter.

Of course, there are 81 million (and counting!) posts tagged #Bookstagram, but it’s not hard to narrow down. Try searching tags specific to your taste – #RomanceBookstagram and #HorrorBookstagram are more manageable, for instance – and make sure you Follow anyone who posts about books you think you could love.

Check out my recommendations for #bookstagrammers you should be following here.

Bookish Besties

Of course, all of these online options are wonderful, but when it comes to book recommendations, nothing can really replace the one-on-one. Your bookish besties know you, know your tastes, and (if you’re lucky) are happy to forward book recommendations to you as they encounter them.

One of my bookish besties is Cathal, local bookstore achillean and true saint among men. He frequently sends me photos of books that have come into his store, asking if I might be interested in them because they sound like something I might like, or screenshots of blurbs and titles that belong on my wishlist. He’s even been known to simply drop books in my lap! If you can find a friend like that, readers, never let them go. (And I hope it goes without saying that I return the favour whenever I can!)

If your IRL friends aren’t particularly bookish or don’t share your tastes, don’t fret! You could connect with fellow readers on a platform like Goodreads or TheStorygraph. Don’t let anyone tell you that online friends “don’t count”, especially when it comes to book recommendations!

(By the way, remember how I mentioned email newsletters a minute ago? Goodreads has a pretty good one!)

Bookstore/Library Browsing

Don’t underestimate the merits of the browse. At your local bookstore or library, you might just stumble over your next favourite read – no recommendation necessary!

Of course, if you don’t want to leave it up to chance, check for a Staff Recommendations shelf (or ask a bookseller or librarian yourself – they love the opportunity to recommend books to patrons, you’ll make their day guaranteed!).

Another under-used resource: the local authors section. Not every bookstore or library has one, but if yours does, it’s well worth checking out. If you find a great book, there’s the bonus of perhaps running into your new favourite author getting coffee or at the post office!

Keep an eye out for author events or book clubs run through your local bookstore/library, too (that’s where those email newsletters come in handy again!). I’ve found a lot of great book recommendations through events I attended out of simple curiosity or boredom.

And, finally, use your library’s app or your bookstore’s website if you’re in a pickle. Sometimes, it’s 2AM and you need a book recommendation but all the stores are closed. The internet is your friend! I get my audiobook recommendations almost exclusively through my library’s app, no in-person browsing or chit-chat required.

8 Comments

  1. Yay!!! Love the shout out and agree with all these sources. Also I forgot how we all used to listen to podcasts on iPods—that takes me back!

    • Sheree

      November 14, 2022 at 12:20 PM

      Bahahaha right? The idea of carrying around a WHOLE SEPARATE DEVICE to listen to music and podcasts seems so quaint now 😅

  2. Great recommendations! For new releases, I peruse the ‘hot pre-order’ section of Booktopia and do usually get a few hot leads from there.

  3. Love your ideas. My faves have to be Goodreads, my friends are SO reliable, and for example, some answer my series questions all the time. Like what to avoid at what time to avoid spoilers. My email subscriptions are great, but Bookriot was a bit of a flop for me. I havent done podcasts, yet. My audiobooks chew up every sprae minute. Enjoying your blog 🙂

    (By subscription, of course)

  4. I am the QUEEN of the secondhand bookshop browse for picking up titles I’ve never heard of. I rarely leave a secondhand bookshop with less than half a dozen books. 😂 And I count you as one of the (few) online book recommenders I trust!

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