On Recommending Books You Haven’t Read

An interesting concept when you think about it. Why would someone recommend a book they haven’t read themselves? Wouldn’t that be misleading? And what is the basis for their recommendation?

As a librarian I get asked for recommendations all the time. I even am asked by family and friends what some good books are because outside of work everyone knows how much of a giant book nerd I am. The thing is though, depending on their interests, I might not always be able to recommend a book I’ve read myself. In that case, I either have to hand the patron over to one of my co-workers who does read in that genre or base a recommendation off what I do know.

Take historical fiction for example. I don’t read it at all. However, my best friend does, so I will often make recommendations for historical fiction novels based off what my best friend has read. Or for some other categories, like adult crime or horror, I’ll base recommendations off of what my other friends/family/co-workers have enjoyed. Is this wrong at all? No, I don’t think so. I’m basing my suggestions off books that have been read by people I know and trust, which is no different than me recommending them myself… in my opinion anyway.

In the past I’ve used recommendations from my co-workers and given them to my best friend, who has ended up loving every single suggestion. Just as well, I’ve used the books she’s enjoyed and recommended them to patrons with similar results.

The thing is, whether I recommend a book based off of what I have read or someone I trust has read, it doesn’t guarantee the person I recommend the book to will like it. We all have different tastes and what one person loves, another will hate. That’s just how it works. So I think making recommendations based off of what I know my family, friends, and co-workers like isn’t a bad thing and I’ve never gotten any backlash for saying, “Well, I don’t read historical fiction, but these are some books my best friend loves…”

So what do you think? Is making recommendations based off of others’ opinions a bad thing? Do you ever recommend books that you haven’t read, but someone close to you has?

4 thoughts on “On Recommending Books You Haven’t Read

  1. 24hr.YaBookBlog says:

    This is something I’ve been thinking about recently, especially as someone who keeps up with the newest YA! The more I think about it, it seems odd to talk about/recommend books that aren’t even released yet, but in the end I’m doing it because I love talking about books. Also, like you said there isn’t anything wrong with recommending things you haven’t read b/c its all based on your opinion & personal recommendations! Fantastic discussion ✨

    Liked by 1 person

    • Genie in a Novel says:

      Oh yeah, that’s a good point too with books that aren’t released yet. And thanks! It just hit me one day when I was telling a patron about a book that I knew one of my friends loves, so I thought I’d share that thought 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Belle says:

    I’ve never thought about recommending books I haven’t read before, partly because I’m hesitant enough recommending books I /have/ read and liked 😅. It’s nice when people value my opinion, so it’s a bummer when a book bombs for them haha. That’s great that you accommodate for different book preferences by asking your coworkers and friends though! I think if someone close to me was also into reading, I would feel comfortable recommending books they liked to someone else 🙂.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Genie in a Novel says:

      I definitely get that! I hate it when someone doesn’t like a book that I enjoyed because it makes you hesitant to recommend another one to that person.

      Yeah, it becomes almost second nature after we’re discussing books 🙂 And it’s great working with people who like all different genres, but once in a while we’ll all like one of the same books! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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