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How do you discover new book recommendations? I’ve been following HackerNewsBooks which sends out weekly newsletter of Amazon book links that people post at HackerNews threads.

Any other worthy book discovery channels that folks here use?


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    Analog life tip: ask a librarian, or go to an actual book store (not a big box chain book store, if you can) and ask someone that works there.

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      I don’t do this enough, but I do have a physical book store within walking distance of my house. Their little staff recommendations cards have been the source of several of my favorite reads over the last couple years. They don’t rotate enough to be usefull e.g. weekly but can certainly supplement other methods of recommendation gathering.

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      IME, the best recommendations seem to come from bibliographies and references in other high quality books. The worst seem to come from twitter and HN. (Of course, sometimes a good book is recommended on twitter or HN, but the s:n ratio is much worse.)

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        You’ve gotten bad book recommendations?

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        This answer is for novels and non-fiction. I don’t read lots of tech books actually.

        I’m lucky: The bookstore down the street has been winning “national book shop of the year” awards consecutively. I just walk in and tell them what I liked in the past and their recommendations are always great. Can highly recommend spending more times in book shops.

        Alternatively, find a library and talk to the librarians. Same thing, cheaper, but sometimes good books require you to make a reservation, because someone else has them now :)

        I also talk to friends, colleagues who I know share my taste.

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          I’ve had good luck at used book stores and thrift shops. I just browse around and buy what looks interesting. I’m in a college town with a lot of tech people, so there’s a lot of good stuff sold off or donated. I bought a like-new copy of “LISP Lore: A Guide to Programming the LISP Machine” for a dollar at Goodwill a while back.

          For technical books on specific topics I’ve found Amazon search, recommendations and reviews to be helpful.

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            And that’s how I found a new book :)

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            Friends’ bookshelves, mostly. Online, https://www.goodreads.com/ and https://www.abebooks.com/collections/ I suppose.

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              Whenever a book is mentioned online, by a friend, or a random person I meet, I write it down. Now and then, I get a few titles off the list and start reading/skimming them. If it’s good, I keep reading. If it’s not, I stop.

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                For CS-related books, as a student I highly recommend https://teachyourselfcs.com. I discovered thanks to Lobsters and I’ve bought maybe 1/4 of the books featured there already. There’s also recommended video lectures, if you want to.

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                  I found it very useful too! I’d also recommend My Favourite Book Recommendations by catonmat

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                  Two sources that couldn’t be more different: the newspaper and fail-fandomanon.

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                    for fiction, mostly from friends and from tor.com book reviews (i read a lot of sf/f)

                    for non-fiction, largely reddit and twitter

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                      It depends on the book’s genre. Reviews on Amazon about a book I’ve read that mention it, FB groups, blog posts, etc.

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                        On goodreads, I like to read reviews for books I like or books I disliked greatly and find people with similar tastes. I then check out their previous books. This is how I get most of my fiction, biography, and history book recommendations. Usually when I find an author that I like, I will consume all of their work.

                        For programming and related technical books, I will usually research a topic and read reviews when choosing what to read.

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                          I tend to ask coworkers and friends what they’re reading.

                          Wandering around the used bookstore in my neighborhood and asking the staff for their recs typically results in a hefty haul.

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                            Some of my strategies:

                            • Take a few books you liked, see who the publishers are, and keep an eye on their websites for new titles, books in the same collection (which might be edited by the same person). Same goes for favorite authors, look into what they’ve published, and where (i.e. what company they keep)
                            • Follow people on Twitter based on interests, if they mention a book I would potentially like, bookmark it. Might be authored by themselves, or a respected peer, or just unexpected finds.
                            • Get a feel for the “seminal tomes” on a subject I’m interested in: look at bibliographies in books, and on Wikipedia, look for articles compiling lists of books.
                            • Subscribe to websites about books, or with a books section: Wink Books, Designers & Books, The Bookshelf rubric on It’s Nice That, FiveBooks, etc.

                            So it’s a mix of intentionally expanding your web of knowledge guided by your own curiousity, and have a few external channels to allow for serendipity/unexpected connections.

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                              For technical stuff, I’ve had good luck starting with a book or paper and following its references and so on. Other times I’ll read things just because a knowledgeable person recommends it. Having found some great books that have been overlooked due to age or whatever, I don’t place too much weight on popularity or Amazon reviews.

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                                I go to Half-Price Books every month or so and just see what’s in the sections there that I care about–sometimes somebody will be offloading really neat stuff (say, a huge number of Pathfinder rulebooks), sometimes the displays will have something neat, sometimes a person will shed the extra tech books that they don’t want anymore.

                                Before that, dumpster diving at my university–they had a policy where they would take in all the books as professors turned over, but often would already have their books in stock. So, I’d take ones that looked interesting. Similarly, a lot of the professors would leave books outside of their doors if they didn’t want them anymore.

                                Otherwise, friends and IRC, sometimes Amazon and Twitter.