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Is there a genuinely good book recommendation system?

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I'm fucking awful at finding new stuff, but I am obsessive once I'm off and running


For a bookstore at heart, Amazon recommendations are completely hopeless

 

I've failed at every turn to find some genuinely interesting method of having something recommmended to me that is different, but likely to have the characteristics that will appeal to me

 

Is there a site or a tool or something people can recommend that might help?

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I’ve tried it, seems really old fashioned and manual, didn’t click with me through any of the recommendations 

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Familiar problem - I've always kind of put it down to books being especially subjective, but now that I actually consciously think about that I'm not entirely sure if it's even true.

 

I tend to just keep a long wishlist based on recommendations from books of the year lists and posts on here, but it's fairly hit and miss. I certainly don't have the same hit rate* with books as I do with other forms of entertainment. I agree that Amazon and Goodreads are pretty unreliable, though both have their uses. 

 

* I find that hit rate much higher with non-fiction than fiction. This feels completely natural to me, though again, now that I think about it I'm not really sure why. 

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19 hours ago, Naysonymous said:

Well, there is this thread on rllmuk  :ph34r:

trouble with that it is features nothing I've read and know I like

 

any time I've read an award winner I usually don't get on with it

 

the problem is I like James Clavell, John Le Carre, John Grisham, whose contemporaries are mostly utterly fucking dreadful, like when I made the mistake of telling Amazon I'd enjoyed The Girl On The Train

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2 hours ago, linkster said:

trouble with that it is features nothing I've read and know I like

 

any time I've read an award winner I usually don't get on with it

 

the problem is I like James Clavell, John Le Carre, John Grisham, whose contemporaries are mostly utterly fucking dreadful, like when I made the mistake of telling Amazon I'd enjoyed The Girl On The Train

 

In that case I just say read Catch 22. It's incredible. 

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4 hours ago, linkster said:

trouble with that it is features nothing I've read and know I like

 

any time I've read an award winner I usually don't get on with it

 

the problem is I like James Clavell, John Le Carre, John Grisham, whose contemporaries are mostly utterly fucking dreadful, like when I made the mistake of telling Amazon I'd enjoyed The Girl On The Train

 

I'd definitely suggest The Lies of Locke Lomara from the list. 

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8 hours ago, Timmo said:

Any list that contains Mein Kampf can not be taken seriously, if you take away the offensive subject matter, the book itself is so poorly written it makes 50 Shades of Grey look like a literary masterpiece. 

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I guess the answer so far then is no, which I must admit given the breadth of the Internet is really surprising 

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On 01/03/2019 at 16:48, OogyBoogy said:

Maybe Goodreads is something for you to look at?

I’ve downloaded the app, hopefully that will help me make better use of the website - thanks

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On 02/03/2019 at 14:53, linkster said:

trouble with that it is features nothing I've read and know I like

 

any time I've read an award winner I usually don't get on with it

 

the problem is I like James Clavell, John Le Carre, John Grisham, whose contemporaries are mostly utterly fucking dreadful, like when I made the mistake of telling Amazon I'd enjoyed The Girl On The Train

 

I know what you mean, and think that recommendation engines (as they currently exist) don't seem to work at all, or not for me anyway.

 

Most recommendation engines seem to be based on some kind of objective criteria like genre or theme, rather than the more subjective whether I thought it was any good or not.  If I like a sf book that I thought was good, it doesn't mean I like all sf books, it means I like books that I think are good.  Obviously that's really hard to measure or pin down what it is I like, but (genre * user ratings) is definitely not measuring what I happen to like about a particular book and what I want more of.

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I wish Amazon had a "I already read/own this book" feature so it can stop recommending those to me.

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1 hour ago, Ste Pickford said:

 

I know what you mean, and think that recommendation engines (as they currently exist) don't seem to work at all, or not for me anyway.

 

Most recommendation engines seem to be based on some kind of objective criteria like genre or theme, rather than the more subjective whether I thought it was any good or not.  If I like a sf book that I thought was good, it doesn't mean I like all sf books, it means I like books that I think are good.  Obviously that's really hard to measure or pin down what it is I like, but (genre * user ratings) is definitely not measuring what I happen to like about a particular book and what I want more of.

 

They are not stupid though, it must be a solution that works for the majority of people

 

Take "don't judge a book by its cover" - walk through Asda, look at the aisle that has books, observe the photo, font - the title and author is irrelevant, you know immediately what it is and who it's for, suggesting people will stick with what they know and buy more of the same

 

It just defo doesn't work for me. Or you.

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There's something almost doomed to failure in the way current systems seem to be set up.

 

I like Dark Souls. I like it because it's a fucking masterpiece.  I've put many, many hours into it, on PC, which is recognised by Steam.  I often get games recommended to me by Steam which ape Dark Souls, or have a similar graphical theme.  I'm not interested in any of them.  I'm specifically not interested in anything that's copied Dark Souls because it's almost certainly going to be nowhere near as good.  I don't like Dark Souls because I like that graphics style. I don't like Dark Souls because I like games set in a medieval fantasy world.  I don't like Dark Souls because I like clunky control systems. I definitely don't like Dark Souls because it has online PVP (I specifically hate online PVP in every game except Dark Souls).  I like it because it's a fucking masterpiece.  Please recommend other masterpieces to me, Steam.

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19 hours ago, OogyBoogy said:

I wish Amazon had a "I already read/own this book" feature so it can stop recommending those to me.

 

Amazon don't even stop recommending me books I have literally bought from them.

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I was thinking about this a bit yesterday. I have a teeny tiny insight into what Spotify (and similar) does, basically through what they've talked about in blogs and interviews plus a friend of a friend worked on/led what became Discover Weekly. They're making so much data out of what songs you like, outside of genre and artist there's tempo, lyrics, different instruments and no doubt the list goes on for ages. People will listen to hundreds of tracks in a week and all of it will feed this massive database, as will linking to what your friends/other influencers like and if you usually like their recommendations. Onwards and onwards. 

 

Whereas for books you have author, genre, maybe age, and people will generally read a lot less as it takes much longer than music to get through one. Is anybody out there databasing them for things like punchy dialogue, lavish descriptions of scenes, many people re-reading passages as they go for whatever reason, etc etc? Maybe there's an opportunity to do something better. I think right now it's more "you like Reacher books is it? Well, here's some other books where the publishers tried to get in on the trend, hooray!". 

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On 03/03/2019 at 11:08, linkster said:

I guess the answer so far then is no, which I must admit given the breadth of the Internet is really surprising 

 

Indeed. Goodreads is shite (at least for me).

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10 minutes ago, alex3d said:

 

Indeed. Goodreads is shite (at least for me).

It's defo not all I would want but it did at least find my most recent two reads having given the app a decent go ..

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Well, I've added about 30 books to my shelf there and still most of the recommendations I get don't excite me.

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It's something I've puzzled about for years now. There's no real discovery system for books. You'd think that there'd at least be big visble review sites for genre fiction but all I've ever found is small stuff

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I pick up a fair few leads from newspapers, for example the Guardian's Review section on Saturdays. Admittedly it does tend towards the worthy, so if you don't like the award winner types, it might not quite chime with your tastes, but at least some level of whittling down has occurred (as presumably publishers only send their better books for review, and editors only publish reviews of the more interesting ones).

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These days I mostly find new books to read by browsing the next 90 days coming soon catagories at Amazon or reading the SFX review pages.

 

Amazingly there's no way I can find to be notified that an author I like has a new book coming out. Amazon don't do it even if you follow the author and the mainstream publishing industry don't have a clue how the internet works anyway.

 

It's even harder for the indie authors who have the same visibility problem devs on Steam have. An avalanche of shite with the gems finding it hard to surface.

 

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Amazon has been choked with self-published crud. The Kindle store is full of nonsense with names like "The Sergeant McGonigle Chronicles Book 7: Touching The Cloth of Evil: A Pulse Pounding Page-Turner" where they've just typed as much as they can into the title box to try to get eyeballs.

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