The Pros and Cons of Book Recommendations

06/01/2016 Discussions, Reading 22

The Pros and Cons of Book Recommendations

Seen as I don’t have all that many bookish friends in real life, it isn’t very often that I either give or receive book recommendations (outside of the blogosphere), and in some ways I’m quite glad about that. There’s a certain level of pressure that comes with both offering or receiving a book recommendation unless it’s someone you know very well (eg. a sibling, a partner or possibly a very close friend), although it can lead you to some amazing books as well.

Therefore I thought I’d do a little pros and cons list (I do love doing those!) about book recommendations, and I’d love to know if you like recommending or being recommended books, or if you feel like it’s too much pressure!

Pros of Recommending 

  • You get someone to talk to about a book you love: So you read an obscure book and have no one to discuss it with? Well recommend it to a friend and suddenly you do!
  • You may get to introduce someone to a book they will love: It is just so satisfying to have recommended a book and have the person love it as much as you do. Plus you managed to spread that book you like to more people, so well done you!

Cons of Recommending

  • If you ask them about it and they didn’t like it, then it can be all kinds of awkward: “So what did you think? It’s just amazing, isn’t it?”, “Well, honestly…I didn’t really like it.”, “Oh…right. OK.”.
  • You may end up arguing as you try to convince them of its awesomeness: People can be defensive of things they are fans of, and it really is so frustrating when you think something is great and just can’t seem to convince someone else of that fact.
  • Their criticism of it may effect your own opinion: If someone whose opinion you respect starts picking apart your favourite book and pointing out flaws you maybe missed then it could make you lose that rose-tinted view you have of it and spoil it for you (to an extent this is what often happens to me when I read negative book reviews of books I really liked – you’re suddenly like, oh…I had never noticed that annoying thing about that character, or that gaping plot hole!).

Pros of Receiving Recommendations

  • You might discover a great book: Particularly if the recommendation is by someone you know well and who knows your taste, there’s a reasonable chance you’ll find a book you really enjoy through a recommendation.
  • As soon as you finish the book there is someone to talk to about it: Because they read it first you don’t even have to wait for them to finish it to discuss it.

Cons of Receiving Recommendations

  • If someone recommends a book to you you may feel as if you have to read it even though it doesn’t sound like something you’d like: I think we’ve all been there, whether it’s about a book, or a film, or a band, or a place – someone insists ‘oh you’ll love it’ when you’re really thinking ‘I have no interest in that at all’, but they insist that much you feel as if you have no choice.
  • If you didn’t like the book you have a dilemma: Lie and pretend you liked it and have to invent reasons why, or say you didn’t like it and have to suffer the potential awkwardness.
  • They may be a little offended if you didn’t like it: Ok, so you’d have to be a bit of a sensitive person to be offended that someone didn’t like a book that you did, but us bookworms are pretty defensive of our book babies!

Well I’d love some opinions! Do you find recommending books to people easy, or hard? And how’s your track record with other people’s recommendations?

22 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Book Recommendations”

    • Laura

      Oh yeah, that’s the worst! I have leant out a few books in the past (plus a lot of other things) and never got them back 🙁

  1. Pamela Nicole

    The most awkward of the cons for me is getting a book rec I’m not really interested in reading. I normally manage to quietly not read it, but I still feel bad!

    However, I do love book recs because most of the time because, like you say, it allows me to discover amazing beauties! It was through a book rec that I discovered the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta, which has become one of my favorite series of all time!

    • Laura

      Quietly not reading it is probably the best course of action in that situation. It just gets awkward when they suddenly remember a couple of months down the line and ask if you’ve read it 🙁
      As you say though, book recommendations can lead to awesome books, and I’m so glad you discovered one of your favourite series that way. I guess a lot of it depends on the person doing the recommending and their familiarity with your taste.

  2. Blaise

    I actually recently did a post on book recommendations as well, so it was really cool to see another post about it so soon after! I think it’s particularly interesting that you took it so far as to assume people were reading the books that were being recommended, because that would not have occurred to me. There There are There are so There are so many books I want to read, and most readers Readers readers I know readers I know on readers I know on the Internet are the same way, that it can take a really long time for me to get around around to around to a recommended book.

    • Laura

      I’ll definitely have to check out your post and read your thoughts on book recommendations!
      Although it does always take me a long while to get round to all the books I want to read, I try to read recommendations pretty fast to avoid the awkwardness of the the recommender asking if you’ve read it yet and you having to say no. That possibly isn’t a situation that would make everyone awkward though, so maybe it’s just me!

      • Blaise

        First, I am so sorry about the repetition in my last post o.o I have no idea why/how that happened–except maybe mobile freaking out on me.

        Most people who recommend books to me don’t tend to follow up on whether I’ve read them or not, so I don’t tend to experience that awkwardness. Boo for lacking bookworm conversation Dx I can imagine how it might get awkward, especially if it happens more than once, though.

  3. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

    I somewhat recently had a less-bookish friend ask for a general book recommendation, and that was far too stressful! I didn’t even know what kind of books she likes, but I didn’t want to disappoint, and ugh, no. Lol. But I’ll offer recommendations offhandedly to other bloggers if they mention something and I know a book that relates that I think they might like. That way just feels like a very no-pressure method for both people since it’s more like a, “Hey you should check this out if you haven’t heard of it,” rather than a, “I command you to read this now!” But every time I recommend something I throw in a “if you do decide to read it” kinda phrase. I never like making people feel obligated to do things!

    • Laura

      I can imagine that was a pretty stressful situation when you’re not even sure what kind of books she likes. That’s a lot of pressure to just pick something you hope she likes. I hope she liked your recommendation in the end! 🙂
      Casual recommendations, especially amongst book bloggers, are the best kind in my opinion. There is less sense of obligation if you’re just like ‘oh if you like that, you may like this other book’, so it feels less like you’re being forced to read a book you might not like (plus if it’s like a book you enjoyed, chances are you will actually like it!). Your way of recommending definitely sounds like a low pressure method!

  4. Silvara

    I pretty much only recommend books to my Dad, since we have similar tastes in fantasy and sci-fi. I used to recommend books/series to one of my best friends, but stopped long ago. For some reason, if she gets recommended a book, that immediately puts it on her “never read” pile. Which I totally don’t get.

    One of my Uncles is always recommending books to me. But I feel kind of bad since only maybe 10-20% of what he recommends sounds like something I would actually want to read. It’s made worse when he actually buys the book/series and gives it to me as a gift. I have a few of those books in the back of my TBR shelf. Maybe they’ll appeal to me one day? And if not, I pass them on to Dad so at least someone in the house reads them!

    • Laura

      That’s so random that your friend immediately discounts any books that have been recommended! It’s great that you and your Dad can recommend each other books though, and I imagine with someone as close to you as that you can at least be honest if you didn’t like it without it feeling awkward.
      That does sound kind of awkward with your Uncle though, especially if he buys you them (although at least if your Dad will read them, someone will)! That has happened to me before where people have bought me books that I haven’t really had much interest in reading, and you just have to cross your fingers that they never ask you about them! 🙂

  5. Carey

    I too don’t have a lot of bookish friends in real life. My daughter reads a lot, but we tend to have opposite tastes in books. Plus she can get real defensive. So I’d hate to recommend something to her and her hate it. Plus I read a little more adult topic books and that’s just a little too awkward still with my nearly 19 year old.

    I’d love to receive book recommendations, but can see where it would be awkward if it were something you didn’t like. I find it extremely difficult to give recommendations. It’s hard to know what they like and then there’s always the fear they will hate it.

    Great post!

    • Laura

      I guess it’s hard recommending books if you have opposite tastes, and I can totally see why it would be awkward with your daughter if you read books that include more adult topics.
      That’s entirely my problem with recommending stuff too – it just feels like so much pressure as you have to basically guess what they might like, and I somehow feel like it will be like a negative judgement on me if they don’t like it (which is a bit ridiculous really – people just have different tastes!).
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    • Laura

      Yeah, spreading the book love is definitely not a negative thing, even if there is some potential for awkwardness!

    • Laura

      I think book recommendations from close friends are usually good, but it does get pretty awkward when you don’t know the person very well!

  6. Jackie

    I don’t run in to this that often because no one I know reads books. More often than not, I’m asked to recommend a book for someone’s kid or teenager (because if reading ever comes up in conversation, I might mention that I’m a fan of YA novels). I haven’t run into many cons with this scenario luckily!

    • Laura

      I’m glad you’ve not found to many cons with book recommendations so far! That scenario definitely doesn’t sound too awkward though, if you’re just suggesting books for people’s kids.

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