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Suggestions & Questions > Book Recommendations question

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message 1: by Paul (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Paul Bryant | 458 comments Dear all - this has probably been discussed before, however : suppose you wanted recommendations for the best books on a particular subject - say, the best history of Vietnam, or the best biography of Dickens, or the best survey of modern physics - anything. Is there a forum on Goodreads where you could ask?

message 2: by Lisa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 8941 comments Paul, I don't know, but when I read your post I was thinking this would make a wonderful public group. Maybe you could start one? The recommendations would then come from other Goodreads users who were members of the group. Perhaps you are thinking of something more official though?

message 3: by Caroline (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Caroline | 128 comments There's a community called "What can you tell me about..?" that is for questions just of that nature (and also "I want to read Charles Dickens, where should I start?" type questions).

message 4: by Paul (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Paul Bryant | 458 comments That one's definately kind of similar to what i had in mind but for authors only, whereas I was thinking about subjects. I'll wait for more opinion about this.

message 5: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Jessica | 31 comments Yeah, this is a good idea. I think ideally I'd want something more structured than your average rambling thread -- sort of like a database where people could signify their area of expertise (e.g., "I HAVE READ TEN HUNDRED BOOKS ABOUT: serial killers/The Beatles/obscure blues and folk musicians most normal people have never heard of".), and then offerings for someone interested in the topic ("IF YOU ARE TOTALLY IGNORANT OF THIS SUBJECT AND ONLY READ ONE BOOK ON IT, MAKE IT THIS ONE: _________."; "BEST THREE BOOKS ON TOPIC: ______, _________, _________"; "DO NOT READ THIS WORTHLESS UNINFORMED GARBAGE THAT EVERYONE ELSE WILL POINT YOU TOWARDS: _________" etc). And then hopefully if a Bookster wakes up one morning with a burning desire to begin learning about butterflies, or is going on a blind date with a foresnics expert, or is being sent on a business trip to Burkina Faso, he or she can scroll down and find the expert's recommendations on an introduction to the topic.... right?

Wouldn't that be great??

I think right now you can probably do this if people are diligent about keeping good shelves. By hopping around among the "shelved as" links, you should be able to identify the experts and see what they like.

Another thing that could happen would be if there were a more direct way to put out a simple ABP to all your friends: "HEY GUYS! WHAT'S THE BEST BOOK OUT THERE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF WORKING-CLASS SPORT CULTURE IN MANCHESTER?" Or whatever.

Was that an overly long and useless enough answer to your simple question? (It's another would-be paper writing day: sorry everyone.)

message 6: by Paul (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:14PM) (new)

Paul Bryant | 458 comments Jessica has nailed the thing down extremely well, this is exactly what I mean. All except for the idea of "good shelves". My shelves are called things like "I wanted to crawl into a mouse hole and die" or "books to read whilst eating a digestive biscuit in front of the reptile house at the local zoo". So not very useful. So you could have a gradually built up database-thing of goodreaders' recommendations as Jessica says, and bolted onto the top you could have a list of yet to be answered questions. I wonder if Goodreads is able to send out a general request for info to its users along the lines "if you have a specialist knowledge come and stick it in our database" - it might be considered slightly intrusive but that way you'd get your info pretty quickly i think, rather than waiting for people to stumple onto it. That should be stumble, not stumple. Stumple is not a real word.

message 7: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:14PM) (new)

Jessica | 31 comments Yeah, um, that was supposed to be "APB." I'm a bad typer, I mean typist....

The other Web 2.0ey-type sites I've been on have had "bulletin" features where you can post a message to everyone you know, but as far as I can tell one can't do that here, except of course disguised as a book review or comment or writing. So you can do it here in a roundabout way: e.g., post a book about, say the history of Las Vegas, and then ask "Has anyone got any recommendations for a better book on this topic?" But there's no generic format for asking everyone something, which I kind of understand, because that kind of thing can degenerate pretty quickly into sublet announcements and tiresome spammish activities. Still, there've been times I've wished we had it here. The advantage I think this has over the idea of a database is that it builds off the strength of the social networking angle, and the idea that you're just getting feedback from people you've vetted and consider worth listening to. Ya know? Though the database thing would probably be a lot more useful, if you could get it to work.

message 8: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:14PM) (new)

Jessica | 31 comments BTW, can anyone around here recommend a good introductory book on opera?

message 9: by Paul (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:15PM) (new)

Paul Bryant | 458 comments Opera? Nah, forget that. Try this


message 10: by Otis, Chief Goodreader (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:16PM) (new)

Otis Chandler | 4184 comments Mod
Great ideas!

What we've been thinking for this is to allow people to create lists like "best biography of Dickens" and then people would vote on the results. Then the wisdom of the masses should result in some interesting results! This idea is about #10 on the todo list :)

message 11: by Paul (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:19PM) (new)

Paul Bryant | 458 comments There has to be a general bulletin board which we could look at which would show the current in-progress lists ("best thing in the history of things" etc) and all the links to the completed lists. And the completed lists should have reply boxes so that goodreadsters can add things - this indeed may engender lively debates along the lines of how book X has completely discredited book Y. All good fun. Then further votes can be taken to update the best-of lists. It would be a database of Best Books. This would be for non-fiction only, I imagine, but there may be people out there who want to find the best book by some famous author to begin with, so that's another thing.

message 12: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:19PM) (new)

Jason (Gireesh42) | 13 comments That's what I thought, Paul:

An "official" Goodreads forum/group (like this one or the Librarians) that is split into two parts: 1. ongoing discussion of topics and 2. completed lists (searchable, of course) that those discussions had produced. Additionally, perhaps this group/forum would be innocuously broadcasted to the entire system on user's Home pages (maybe out of the way, on the side), so that when I log on I would see that they're looking for info on Opera History and I would click on the link and voila!

This is a massive undertaking, however. Perhaps checking out wikipedia would be more expeditious.

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