I have a really hard time with book recommendations.
Sometimes, I’ll be reading a book and I’ll immediately think of a person. I think this has happened to me about twice in the past five years. I recommended City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg when I was reading it to a friend who is from New York culture and is obsessed with 1970s punk/zine culture, and I recommended Sweet and Low by Rich Cohen to a Jewish friend from New York. So basically, when I’m reading about niche New York cultures, I think about people from those niche New York cultures.
Other than that, I have a hard time. I was trying to think of books the other day for a middle school reader who likes fantasy/science fiction that would give him experience with older writing styles. At first I thought of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, but he’d already read all of them. I was able to think of three more: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (which I think is too easy), Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory (which I don’t think he’ll like), and Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis (which I don’t think fits any of the criteria). For all the books I’ve read, I was at a total loss.
It’s tough for me to recall books after I’ve read them, unless they make a very big impression. It could very well be that I’ve read ten books that are perfect for him, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. What fantasy author writes like Jane Austen?????????? These are the struggles.
I am going to become better at recommendations. I have decided.
From now on, every time I finish a book, I have to think of at least one person to recommend it to, and I have to know why. This rule only applies to books I personally like. And I will begin this rule after I finish Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, because for the life of me I can’t think of anyone I know who would be all about Joe Hill’s NOS4A2. Hm. Yeah no. Little too much kidnapping and murder I think. And mild, unaddressed misogyny. Meh. I’ll think about it.
Anyway, mad props to anyone out there who can organize their reads in their head automatically. Because I sure can’t.