Don’t Know What To Read Next? Ask Anne!

November 20, 2014 Uncategorized 25

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 I received a free trial of Anne Knows Books in exchange for my feedback and honest review.

When I was invited to a free trial of Anne Knows Books, I was intrigued. The idea of having someone take the time to learn your tastes in books and recommend books for you personally seemed very fun and kind of decadent to me. Honestly, it’s not a service I would have tried had I not been offered a free trial. I have a very hard time saying no to ARCs, so I typically accept as many as I can, which means paying to have another book to read every month didn’t sound like something I needed. However, I enjoyed the service enough that I’d like to share it with you since I think some of you might really enjoy it.

Here’s how it works. For $3 per recommendation, you can get a recommendation once every 1, 2, or 3 months. When you join, you fill out a questionnaire about the things that you take into account when you choose a book. Some of them are multiple choice, but there are also a number of short answer questions that I felt could do a good job of capturing most of the things I take into account when choosing a book.

My first recommendation was The Shoemaker’s Wife. This seemed like a perfect fit in a lot of ways. I’ve been loving historical fiction lately and I can’t get enough of dual narratives.  The description included the phrase “star-crossed lovers” which is something I usually avoid because I find things nearly working out in books very frustrating. On that count, I was wrong to be worried. The star-crossed-ness of the lovers was fine; however, there was an element of insta-love I disliked. Although the book was in part recommended to me for the beautiful writing, the writing style didn’t entirely work for me. I found the descriptions overwrought, slowing down the narrative without showing truly beautiful use of language. This isn’t a book I’d have picked up on my own, I haven’t seen it reviewed very often by other bloggers, and it was published in 2012.

I think my experience illustrates both the perks and dangers of having someone else pick out a book for you. It’s hard to write down everything you know you like or dislike in a book. For instance, I didn’t think to put “star-crossed lovers” in the box for things I avoid in books. You can also, of course, have different taste then the person recommending the book, as in the case of the writing. Fortunately, there is an opportunity for feedback with Anne Knows Books. Whoever recommends your book shares why they recommended it and you can let them know what you liked or disliked about their choice when you’re done reading. This means that you can continue to update your list of things you like and dislike and as the person recommending the book learns your tastes, I anticipate that recommendations would get better.

The good thing about having someone else pick out a book for you is that it might push you to pick up something you wouldn’t usually and you might find that something that usually bothers you (like star-crossed lovers) can be something you enjoy. I also think it could be a great help to readers looking for backlist titles to enjoy. I know a lot of blogger reviews focus on the newest books, but if you want something you can get from library without a wait, older titles can be the way to go. If you’re looking to branch out and try a new genre, you could get a recommendation in that genre or if you’re someone who has a hard time finding a book you like, this could be a good way to enlist some help. While I don’t think I’ll be using Anne Knows Books myself (at least not until I have a shorter to-read pile!), I’m hopeful some of you might find the service helpful. If you’d like to try it out, I’m excited to share with you a promo code for one free recommendations. Just enter “doingdewey” when you sign-up!

25 Responses to “Don’t Know What To Read Next? Ask Anne!”

  1. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    This is such an interesting service! It is interesting to try and think concretely of the things I look for and avoid in books. I think I would rather like to be a recommender receiving the service though because I love thinking of books my friends might like. And I have so many books I need to read already. I love the idea of this though, so I might check it out some time.
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy recently posted…Review: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess BrideMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I feel the same way! I like the idea of the service and I think I’d have a lot of fun trying to come up with book recommendations for people, but I don’t need more books to read myself.
      DoingDewey recently posted…In TranslationMy Profile

  2. Emma @ Words And Peace

    I’m puzzled though: why would one pay for book recommendations when librarians do a fantastic job for free? and if you are connected to lots of other readers through blog, goodreads, twitter or just emails, etc, you can get so many good recommendations from friends.
    even many library catalogs have now a recommendation section at the bottom, such as: when you enter the title of the book, it gives you other ideas similar to that book.
    there are also lots of automatic online system, and some are actually quite good
    Emma @ Words And Peace recently posted…Book review: Bed of Nails. I love France #123My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I tend to agree with you, for myself at least. I get plenty of recommendations from friends and other bloggers. I do think these recommendations would be better than those from automatic systems, but I’m not sure if that’s enough for people to pay for the service. I definitely think the target audience isn’t bloggers, who are part of a connected community of people recommending books and who read a lot and therefore have a lot of experience figuring out which books they’ll like. I do think it could potentially be useful to non-bloggers who read less. I know I sometimes have friends who are trying to find something to read next. While personally, that blows my mind since I always have a stack of books I wish I could be reading, perhaps people in their situation will be willing to pay for recommendations. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out!

    • DoingDewey

      I felt the same way! I was excited to try the service to see what they’d recommend and I felt like it was reasonable to do so since I’m happy to promote them on my blog in case some of my readers could use their recommendations. It’s not a service I plan to use myself though, because my TBR doesn’t need any help!

  3. Charlie

    Interesting idea but I’m thinking similarly to Emma; we’ve blogs, librarians, etc, and there’s bibliotherapy which offers a more specific and offline recommendation as well as a conversation. If free I think it could be fun to try out, but that’s quite a bit of money on top of the price you’ll possibly already have to spend for the book itself.
    Charlie recently posted…What’s In A Name – 2015 Sign-Up PostMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I feel the same way! I think if anyone is going to be willing to pay for book recommendations, it’s likely to be non-book bloggers who haven’t found a bookish community to swap recommendations with. I’ll be interested to see if the service succeeds.
      DoingDewey recently posted…In TranslationMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, yeah, I feel the same way! Next year, I’m planning on doing fewer challenges and only picking the ones I really care about, so the reading from your TBR pile challenge will be at the top of my list.

  4. Naomi

    I noticed this service for the first time a few weeks ago, and like everyone else, I don’t need it at all, but it does make me curious to see what they would recommend for me.
    I just finished reading The Shoemaker’s Wife, and agree with your assessment of it. I question the insta-love, but the missed opportunities didn’t really bother me, because I thought the best parts were the historical parts and the immigration experience. I did like it overall, for a book that I wouldn’t normally have picked up.
    Naomi recently posted…Obasan by Joy KogawaMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I think that’s a good way to put it. I enjoyed it pretty well for a book I wouldn’t usually have picked up on my own. The fact that I would only give it 3/5 stars and my own rating average is 4/5 stars makes me feel like I can picking out books myself, but I also think the recommendations from this service would get better over time, so the biggest thing stopping my from using it is definitely my TBR pile!

    • DoingDewey

      I really like the idea too! Since it’s not a service I need, I think I mainly feel excited about it because I enjoy giving recommendations too 🙂 I hope you have fun trying this out and end up with a book you like!

  5. Jennine G.

    Interesting. Although, as a reader, I have no problem finding books to read! It seems this might even be geared toward people who aren’t big time readers? Although, I’m not sure they would pay for a recommendation.
    Jennine G. recently posted…#BookishThanks November 15-21My Profile

    • DoingDewey

      That does seem like a Catch-22 kind of problem the idea. I agree, the target audience is probably people who aren’t bloggers and don’t read enough to know what they like, but I’ll be interested to see if that audience is willing to pay for the service.

  6. Briana @ Pages Unbound

    I’ve never heard of this service! While it sounds interesting, I think I would question its viability from a business perspective. The problem is that only avid readers are likely to want a service like this–and yet avid readers are precisely the population that knows how to get book recommendations free: from friends, Goodreads, bloggers, librarians, etc. Maybe I’d pay $3 for a book recommendation if I were 100% guaranteed to love the book…but obviously I’m not.
    Briana @ Pages Unbound recently posted…“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” by Geoffrey ChaucerMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Yeah, I tend to agree with you. I think the target audience is probably people who read occasionally, not enough to have a great idea of what they like, and who aren’t already part of a bookish community where they can get recommendations and I’m not sure these people are going to be willing to pay for recommendations. I know because of paying for the personalized recommendation, I was hoping to get a book that blew me away, but I ended up feeling like I’ll always know myself better than someone else and am more likely to pick a great book on my own.

  7. Anya

    Oo, this sounds cool and I hadn’t heard of it already! I skimmed a bit (sorry, children running around distracting me D:), but do they have a way of making sure they don’t recommend you something you already have on your TBR?