Mary's Minute: Book Recommendations

This subject started when I saw one bookish friend ask another bookish friend when she was going to read a book I LOVE, and I was actually reallllly concerned for friend #2's answer. Why? Because I have previously had the thought that friend #2 will not like that book. So I subtweeted the discussion because I have Feelings about book recommendations. I figured it would be a tweet. Then I realized I needed two tweets and then a third, and then I was like, well, this is going to end up a very long Twitter thread so I might as well turn this into a blog post.

I recommend books to a lot of people. I've always been the person who told my friends what to read (to be perfectly hipster about this, I read HP before anyone I know except my mom so I was the person telling everyone else to read it). Books that I share here on the blog are my recommendations to you, my readers (which is one reason I don't do negative reviews). I recommend books through my social media. And now I work in a library where it's literally my job to help people find books. Buuuut sometimes I don't always share my absolute favorites. For example, I don't talk about HP much because 1. it's something special to me; 2. it's super popular and my recommendation is no longer needed; 3. it's also kiiiind of a mess right now with all its problem areas, and I just don't want to deal with it; and 4. I'm kind of Harry Potter-ed out. But sometimes a book only falls into category #1, and that's enough. I'm sure authors don't want to hear this, but if I love a book and it's incredibly special to me, I sometimes won't push it on people a lot because I'm worried they'll hate it and that would hurt ME.

For me, recommending a book can go something like "OMG I LOVE SONG OF THE CURRENT YOU GUYS NEED TO READ IT ASAP" and then I make five people buy it on Prime Day. This is pretty standard to my fellow book pushers. But sometimes I know a book might be less accessible to every reader, and I want to make sure I recommend that book to specific readers that I think will really connect with it. Or sometimes it's a mix: I might shout about a certain book on my blog and on social media to give it as much exposure as I can but when giving specific recs to specific people, I don't share it.

As I stated on Twitter, reccing a book I LOVE feels like I'm holding my heart in my hands, and I'm offering it to a person. What if they DON'T like it? How could they not, but what if? That book feels like it's ME, and they hate it oh gosh they hate me now we can't be friends ever again *anxiety train reaches maximum velocity* This is actually why I'm super careful about which books I read from those books that others recommend. It's why there's like 5 people in the world whose recommendations are gold and turn a book into a MUST READ, but books from other people just go into the general TBR. I don't want to hurt someone who recommends something THEY love and then I don't. It might just be a case of they love this book and they don't know me well enough to know it's not for me. (Related: Check out my Mary's Minute on Book Buzzwords that includes a list of buzzwords that make me push a book to the top of my TBR or to the bottom)

The anxiety is totally mine to deal with, but people who take a rec and read it: be thoughtful about how you treat that book. Pay attention to how the book pusher pushes it. Consider your relationship. Are they a close friend? Have they talked about it being personally meaningful? If you love it, let them know! If you don't, maybe stay quiet. If they ask your opinion, be gentle with them. When I started at the library, one of the first things my boss taught me was that we don't trash another's treasure. You always have the right to not like a book (even if it breaks someone's heart). You don't have the right to be mean to them about it and insult their taste.

Likewise, fellow book pushers, try not to take it personally if someone doesn't LOVE a book you LOVE and told them to read. It's not personal TO YOU if someone doesn't LOVE or even like that book. Take a breath, and just be grateful you connected to that book so powerfully. Also, if someone doesn't take your recommendation or waits to read it, try to be patient and understanding. Don't put more pressure on them to love it! Reading is an inherently personal hobby, and every book is going to mean different things to someone else.

Story time: A couple years ago, my good friend Maura (of The Whimsical Mama) traded our beloved vampire series. I read Blue Bloods, the start of her MdlC addiction, and she read Vampire Academy, the start of my Richelle Mead obsession. Possibly because we read them so long after the vampire craze and possibly just because of style/story preference, we both did not care for one another's book and opted to leave each series unfinished. Part of me is sad she'll never read about Rose, Dimitri, Lissa, Adrian, and Sydney's, but part of me is relieved because I was so worried she wouldn't like it. She didn't, and you know what? The world kept spinning.

Do you have any books so precious you save them when you're recommending to others? Share your recommendation success stories and favorite book recs in the comments!


  1. Totally feel you about not trashing other people's treasure. I think it's different if you're having a general discussion about books you like and dislike, like we sometimes do, but my biggest issue is uninvited negative opinions lol. If I'm reading a book on Goodreads and someone comments on how much they didn't like it... get outta here. That doesn't help anyone!

    1. It's the WORST. I agree, it's way different if you have a discussion with someone, but when someone comments uninvited "I hate this"... oooh, that grinds my gears. If you're going the uninvited route, you could say, "this one didn't work for me, but I'm interested to hear your thoughts," but no one needs straight up hate when they're still figuring it out for themselves.