What shall I read next?

What Should I Read Next? is a website where you can enter the titles of your favourite books (you get help) and then you get a suggestion of something else you might like to read.

I tried a reverse approach and entered the titles of four books I don’t like (The White Hotel, Life of Pi, Norwegian Wood and Ulysses) and it came up with:

Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
Armistead Maupin, 28 Barbary Lane – A Tales of the City Omnibus
Douglas Coupland, Microserfs
Douglas Coupland, Girlfriend in a Coma

This is worrying. I would have put Microserfs and Maupin on my favourites list, and I suspect Amy Tan is OK. I doubt I would like Ray Bradbury – that’s science fiction, isn’t it?

I then tried it again with some favourite books (you can have it store your list with your email address, but I didn’t do that): The Blue Flower, Tales of the City, The Remains of the Day, Kitchen, American Psycho, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Adult edition! – but the text is identical to the children’s edition, after all).

I was excited to see if I got more good suggestions than before, but at first there was a bug in the script (it’s in beta). I kept trying and got:

Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus!
Arundati Roy, The God of Small Things
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Mikael Niemi, Popular Music
Ian McEwan, Enduring Love

Of course, it’s hard to judge the ones I don’t know, so maybe this is good. I can’t say The God of Small Things is my favourite Indian novel (I preferred A Suitable Boy), and the last McEwan I read was a disappointment – possibly over my head, although that one set in Venice was good.

(Via Random Acts of Reality)

14 thoughts on “What shall I read next?

  1. Hi Margaret,
    Amy Tan is awfully boring, I’m afraid. I tried a couple of her books…there’s not enough vomit on this planet…I’d give Bradbury and Huxley a try.
    Since I’m curious, I’m going to try the website myself.;-)

  2. I may have an Amy Tan lying around somewhere – I will have a quick look and then throw it away. Thanks for the comment.
    I should have read Huxley by now, of course.

    Of course one immediately assumes that English-language novels are meant. No chance for the Oxford Companion to Food or Thornton’s Legislative Drafting.

  3. Yes, it seems to me one might just as well look at amazon.com for ‘People who bought this book also bought:’
    OTOH I could take a tip from your favourites. I like three of them, but I don’t know Barney’s Version.

    Of the recommendations, I liked Pale Fire a lot, but the others I don’t know.

    Do you think this Stapledon bribed them? I got a lot of Douglas Coupland recommendations, which I don’t mind, but I don’t intend to read his collected works.

  4. Hi, I got here through Isabella Massardo’s blog… This is a great place to be!
    As for book recommendations, I can tell you that Ray Bradbury is a great author: he wrote incredibly realistic sci-fi back in the 1950s, when space travel was still merely a dream! If you give it a try, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
    anyway, I decided to play the ‘what should I read next’ game too, and the results have been quite unexpected: I tried with ‘Perfume’ by Patrick Suskind and ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins, with the following results:
    – War and Peace (L. Tolstoy)
    – Anna Karenina (L. Tolstoy)
    – The Mayor of Castelbridge (T. Hardy)
    – Things my girlfriend and I have argued about (M. Millington)
    – Empire of the Sun (J.G. Ballard)

    Well, apart for Tolstoy (whose books I’d like to read sometime), I’m really puzzled about the other results… Any idea whether these books are worth a try? Thanks!


  5. Sylvy: I will have to look at Ray Bradbury, but I have done that before and I never feel like reading sci-fi.
    I must try with older titles. All my titles were 20th century. Perhaps the machine thinks if you like Wilkie Collins you can take anything from the 19th century!
    The Mayor of Casterbridge was my favourite Hardy, but I haven’t read it since about 1966. It starts off with Michael whatever-his-name-is (Henchard?) auctioning off his wife, which is memorable. I think I read The Empire of the Sun – is it not non-fiction?
    I think this system is a bit badly programmed, though.

  6. So do I, Jez, so you’re in good company.

    I tried it from Random Acts of Reality too. I think it must be temporary. I got a couple of pages like that while I was using the site, but this is the first time I’ve got it when attempting to access the top level!

  7. Margaret, Barney’s version is a wonderful book, I highly recommend it, I was ROTFL the whole time. I myself might give A Suitable Boy a try, if you say it’s worth the effort.

  8. Is it true that Roy was a chronic alcoholic for much of his time at Oxford and that he only ever published two articles during his entire academic career?
    If so he was fairly typical of the Oxford Law Faculty throughout the 60s and 70s.

    • Hmm. The Times link doesn’t work any more. Google does reveal a couple of personal tributes, including one about a project that started in a bar under Hertford College: ‘We have never previously admitted it, but the journal judicial Review was born in the basement bar under Hertford College, Oxford. It was thirst which had driven us there that evening, in late 1994. But it was thanks to Roy Stuart that we were there at all. Roy was a tutor and an inspiration.’
      Not much evidence. Perhaps if he had died in 2012, the internet would have revealed more.

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