Testing “The Awesome Author Recommender” Tool

I was scrolling through Reddit this morning and discovered a neat little link called “The Awesome Author Recommender.” Similar to sites like WhatShouldIReadNext, it is a site that recommends you authors based on previous ones you have read. The site claims to use real people, not a computer formula, to recommend an author to you.

Excited to try it out, I first put in Marissa Meyer, the author of one of my favorite YA series, The Lunar Chronicles.

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Well, I suppose Marissa Meyer isn’t the most widely read of authors. For the heck of it, I also tried Ernest Cline, whose books are certainly selling quite a bit at the moment.

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Oh well, we’ll keep trying.

How about a YA romance novelist who has been writing and publishing a multitude of books for years now?

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I do like that the site at least gives me a brief description of the author, even if it can’t make any recommendations to me.

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Hold that thought; no recommendations or even a description of J.K Rowling? Perhaps I’m pushing this a little far, but isn’t she British? This is a British website. Yikes.

Figuring I was being a tad unfair by choosing the previous authors, I tried Jane Austen, in honor of my current read, Pride and Prejudice. Surely something will come up.

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Oh dear. That’s a problem.

In a desperate attempt to get the website to make any recommendation to me, I just started searching random authors. Classic ones, modern ones, anything. I also tried ones it automatically began to suggest to me as I typed.

Thankfully, I did get some recommendations, including for Karen Thompson Walker, one of my favorite authors, who has only written one book. Why she is in there but not Jane Austen, I am not entirely sure. Nevertheless, I am certainly intrigued by the site’s sole recommendation to me.

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Lauren Oliver. I clicked “View Books”, and this is what it gave me:

Screenshot of LoveReading's Lauren Oliver page.

Screenshot of LoveReading’s Lauren Oliver page.

Below this was more of her featured books, as well as other books by her, which can be sorted by paperback, hardcover and audiobook.

For fun, I tried out the “compare prices” tool that the site offers on her book, Rooms.

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Gotta love loading symbols.

After several minutes of waiting, I decided to try a different book to compare prices with.

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5 minutes later, I was still looking at this picture.

Oh, boy. I really, really wanted to say something good about this site. For the sake of this experiment, I kept the tabs loading, and even tried them in other internet browsers. Nada.

As other reddit users are saying, the idea of this tool is great. It is unique and pretty close to the experience you’d get asking a librarian for recommendations, yet with a wider scope. Ideally, at least. But there are far too many holes in the site’s author database, and too little recommendations given when you even find an author that is in the database. (For example, I was given just one recommendation for Karen Thompson Walker.) Perhaps in a few months, or however long it takes to add more authors to the database, this will be a fun and worthwhile tool for readers. But at this moment in time, I just don’t think it is ready.

Try out the site for yourself and let me know what you think and/or find! If it were more complete, would it be a useful tool to you? Comment below!  http://authormachine.lovereading.co.uk

P.S If you saw my tweet on twitter, I redid my Tumblr page and am now posting on it again! Hooray! Give it a follow for some cute bookspiration!

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4 Tips for Reading Books Faster!

So many books, so little time. It’s the phrase that runs through readers’ heads as they stare, er, glare down their overflowing TBR piles. How are you supposed to read all of those AND the books you want to read AND the books other people are going to ask you to read AND still have a life? While I can’t give you any scientific tips on how to make your eyes move back and forth faster (that’s just weird), I can give you some tips on making sure you finish those books so you can keep on moving.

  1. Read in a distraction-free environment

If you’re distracted while you’re reading, it’s going to take you longer to finish the book. Or, even if you keep reading, your mind is going to be drifting off to the quesadillas that await you at dinner tonight and not your characters who oh-so-desperately want your attention. If you’re reading at home, turn everything off so you can keep your attention at 100. That’s right; turn off those phones, tablets, computers, everything. Can’t do that? Flip your phone over so you can’t see the push notification light and make sure the sound is off. Those things drive me insane if I don’t respond to them. If your home is too loud and distracting, move to the library or the park, where it will be quiet and you can focus on the task at hand. Bonus points if you go to the library and return only with the book you’re reading.

2. Try audiobooks

This point could go both ways. For me, audiobooks are longer than the amount of time it would take me to read a book in one sitting. However, audiobooks allow you to read at times that normally aren’t times you can read, such as in a long car ride, train ride, or walking around town. Just put in your headphones (unless you are driving; I know some people listen to audiobooks while they drive, but honestly I think it’s safer keep your eyes and ears on the road. Stories can be immersive.) and listen to a book of your choice. You can actually get audiobooks free through your local library, both in physical CD form or in digital format that you can download such as through Overdrive. Ask your librarian about such services!

3. Read books you WANT to read

The fact is, if you don’t like the book you’re reading, you’re probably not going to schedule your life around finishing it as quickly as possible. If there’s a list of books you need to read for school, try and alternate so you can fit in books you want to read as well to prevent getting into a reading slump and thinking of all reading as boring.

4. Read shorter books

The trick that works for readathons also works for your year-long reading goals! If you’re trying to read a large amount of books, Infinite Jest may not be the one you want to choose right now. (Unless your goal is to read it, then of course, read Infinite Jest.)

Comic books work too, especially as in-between books like I described in point 3.

However, I’d say that as far as reading goes, quality trumps quantity. It’s not about who read the most books in a month or year or how fast they read them, it’s about reading good books and enjoying them. Of course, setting a goal for the year can be motivating too. So have fun, go read and of course, let me know when you finish your Goodreads reading challenges!

The Literary Canon and Being a True Book Lover?

Last Tuesday marked the first day of my semester’s literature course. I consider myself to be a bit of a voracious reader, seeing as I spend a large chunk of my time in the library, reading or finding books, and then talking about them. Totally excited for the class, I sat down and waited for the rest of my classmates to trickle in.

I was sandwiched between two people, both book enthusiasts like me, of course. But as I overheard their conversations, my heart started to sink. They were throwing around names of novels I’d never read, fervently discussed exactly which Kurt Vonnegut novel was his best, and I found myself completely left out of the conversation because I had not read even two of the books they were discussing. I’d read one of them, in high school, but I couldn’t quote what was on page 15 and say it changed my life like they could. For a minute, I felt like a “bad” book nerd. What was my favorite book? It wasn’t written by Geoffrey Chaucer or Shakespeare. It was a YA novel, and is probably the same favorite book as throngs of other teenagers.

Later as I sat in the library and browsed, I started to think about what truly made someone a book nerd or a voracious reader or a book lover. And that’s when I decided upon my personal definition- someone who enjoys reading books.

It’s that simple!

You don’t need to memorize Shakespeare and read elevated literary fiction and have pretentious discussions on the use of allusions in Hemingway’s works in order to be a book enthusiast. You don’t need to feel bad about reading YA or comic books; whatever you read is awesome! Reading is awesome. If you read books, we’re best friends. Besides, you should enjoy what you read. Don’t read because someone else makes you- find a book YOU enjoy, and read it. Have a good time!

One good thing I did get out of this experience, though, was exposure to books I’d never considered reading before. For a while I’ve been waffling about trying more adult fiction, but I didn’t know where to start. I think when I was younger I told myself that I couldn’t relate to older, married characters with children in novels so I shouldn’t read books about them, but really, you can read whatever it is you want. This got me to start a book called The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, which I currently adore.

It was wildly popular when it came out a few years ago, so I imagine many of you are nodding your heads and going, Yeah! I know that book! There’s a reason so many people bought and read this book; it’s moving and beautifully written, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on it with you once I complete it and get all my emotions in order.

This post is all serving as an announcement of sorts that I will be beginning to review some more “literary” fiction in addition to the usual YA on this blog. We read quite a bit for my literature course, and I figure why not tell you guys about some of those in addition to what I’m reading for leisure?

Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject down in the comments below! Also, be sure to give me any recommendations you have because I am truly lost in terms of where to start with Vonnegut (besides Slaughterhouse Five) and other popular adult authors of our day.