Human Book Recommendation So Not 1984

First, this is my 200th blog posting out on THinc.  Yeah me!  hahaha.  I definitely have been trying to make an effort to be more consistent out here over the last year or two and it has paid of in the sheer quantity of postings that have resulted.  Its been a fun ride.  Over the past two years I’ve been pushing the blog more it has seen somewhere close to half a million visitors and something like 5,000 comments.

So I recently stumbled across a Tumblr that I just had to share with you all.  The Tumblr is called Go Book Yourself.  Created by Anna JamesDaniel Dalton, and Rob Goodswen, the Tumblr gives recommendations based on books you already love from a variety of genres.  The concept is so retro that its fashion forward.  Basically its a human recommending books.  Woah. But just to give this simple concept context let’s take a peek at some of the algorithm driven recommendations out there that I have done more than my fair share of playing with:

So when I stumbled upon a gorgeously designed human book recommendation service on Tumblr I figured I had to share it.  Obviously, being human based, there aren’t an infinite number of recommendations available.  It isn’t done with algorithms and analysis of keyword hits.  Someone has to actually READ all these books in order to recommend them.  I know… how boring is that?

But the format of the recommendations are what really captured my attention.  If you liked this… try this… or this… or this… or this…  Its brilliant.  For example, if you liked Infinite Jest… you might like Gravity’s Rainbow (Pynchon)


Right?  Gravity’s Rainbow by Pynchon, or pretty much anything by Gaddis?  Perfect fit.  See?  But who is this Murakahi guy?  No idea.  Maybe I ought to check him out?!  See perfect recommendations relative to other books I already know.  Let’s try again.  But this time, let’s search for Justin Cronin’s The Passage and see what we get.


Ok, Stephen King’s The Stand and The Passage is basically the most perfect correlation known to man.  Brilliantly played.  McCarthy’s The Road?  Another perfect match.  But what is this “Things We Didn’t see Coming”?!?  Or “Isobelle Carmody”?!  Never heard of either!  Fantastic-ness and bliss!

Now, just for kicks and giggles let’s try these same two searches on some of the above search algorithms.

I searched for The Passage and here were the results:

passage3At first glance I think that the search has worked, but actually the only thing has done is pulled everything with passage in the title.  “A Passage to India”, “Passage to Dawn”, “Passage Meditation”, “Passage” (Not to mention it also showed us the book we search against.)  The only one that even looks half way close as a recommendation is the book “One Second After”.  I’m guessing that is a post apocalyptic type book, which would fit within Cornin’s Passage genre.  1 for 10.

Let’s try again.  This time let’s do Inifinite Jest again, but this time over at


Ooh, look.  We have two Pynchon’s listed here as a match against David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  Much better start for  They also have a Moody match as well, which is a perfect hit.  There is no better match between Wallace than Moody.  So kudos there as well.  But who is Vollman?  Or this Coover guy?  They are both older authors, which makes me skeptical seeing as though DFW is a 100% modern (post-modern?) author.  But it would be worth a try I guess.  All in all not bad at all.

But I definitely prefer the hand crafted searches and the overall design much better of Go Book Yourself.  But of all the Pandora-esque book searches definitely What Should I Read Next is the best and is useful in the areas where Go Book Yourself still doesn’t have a comparison to make.  Happy book hunting!!