BBAW: Blogger Book Recommendations

BBAWToday’s BBAW prompt is, “What have you read and loved because of a fellow blogger?”

The tough thing about this prompt is that after eight years of book blogging, it’s hard to come up with great books that didn’t come from blogger suggestions!

Teresa: When I look back on my own top reading selections for the past few years, almost all of them come from a blogger in one way or another. To put it simply, blogging is how I learn about books now. If I read a book, good or bad, it’s probably because of a blog. If I didn’t blog, I would find out about many of these books some other way, but blogs are my main source of reading ideas. But there are, no doubt, lots of books I probably wouldn’t have encountered at all if it weren’t for blogs. These are just a few!

  1. The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanigihara. It’s true that I’ve been a vocal and extremely cranky critic about her new book (a book I would have known about without blogging because of how it’s everywhere), but that’s partly because it was such a disappointment after her first book. I heard about this one from Jenny who made a point of noting in her review that I’d probably like it.
  2. Tigerman by Nick Harkaway. Jeanne is an ardent Nick Harkaway fan and is always urging people to read his books. I’m glad I listened! One of these days, I’ll read his other ones!
  3. A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimar McBride. I first heard about this one from Stefanie. It’s a wonderful example of how an experimental style can make a story better (and more unbearable in exactly the right ways).
  4. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamisen. This book got a lot of attention in the blogosphere, but I’m pretty sure it was Rebecca who got me to read it. She’s someone whose taste in essays I particularly trust.
  5. Thorn by Intisar Khanani. This retelling of the Goose Girl was self-published and thus didn’t get attention in mainstream media, but Ana and Aarti brought it to my attention, and I’m glad they did. I feel like blogging is made for books like this.
  6. As We Are Now by May Sarton. I can’t say for sure that Thomas put this in my hands during a book shopping adventure, but I do know I’d never even have known about May Sarton if it weren’t for his enthusiasm for her work.
  7. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton. There’s no way I wouldn’t want to read a book that’s basically an Anthony Trollope novel with dragons, but I’d have never known such a book existed if it weren’t for bloggers, especially Aarti and Lisa who got me to read this. It was my introduction to Jo Walton, and now I’m a big fan.

Jenny: I agree with Teresa — many of my favorite books from the past few years have come from recommendations from bloggers. I especially love it when I find books I’d never otherwise have heard of, and a whole new world opens for me. Here is a random scattering of them:

  1. It was Jeanne’s constant reminders that got me to read The Gone-Away World, by Nick Harkaway. This is one of my favorite books of the past several years: a big, digressive, crazy, serious book I adored. I’ve given it to several people now and haven’t stopped recommending it. I loved his other two novels as well, Angelmaker and Tigerman, but it was The Gone-Away World that blew both socks off.
  2. I get so many recommendations from Tom that I can’t pick just one. A few instances: I got in on the Portuguese reading challenge and learned about the magnificent Machado de Assis; I finally read John Galt’s The Entail, to find out why Tom says it’s such a great novel; I found out about Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children on his blog; and it was there I was introduced to W.G. Sebald. These (among others) have been some of the most interesting, entertaining, beautiful, fascinating reading experiences I’ve had over the past several years. May his shadow never grow bulkier.
  3. Victoria recommended Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone, a marvelous book with tremendous moral significance. It made me think in a fresh way about what difference it makes to stand up against oppression.It was so good, and I’d never have read it if not for Victoria’s wonderful review. (And when I went to her site to get the link, I got another recommendation! Her reviews are so deliciously dangerous.)
  4. I have read so many books on Other Jenny’s recommendation! I was always a Diana Wynne Jones fan, for instance, but she led me into reading a far wider variety of her books; she helped me find books about changelings; she (and Teresa) introduced me to Maggie Stiefvater; I have lots more of her recommendations on my TBR list as well. I think the happiest recommendation she made to me, though, was Hilary McKay. I started with the books about the Cassons (beginning with Saffy’s Angel) and have loved all of them. Thank you, Jenny.
  5. Claire is the one who convinced me to read Angela Thirkell. I was skeptical at first, thinking it would be a sort of silly pastiche of Anthony Trollope, but when I began reading with High Rising, I was completely hooked. Those books have been such a pleasure!

I would also be leaving a gaping hole if I didn’t talk about the one blogger who influences me most of all — Teresa! Not only does she write so well that I want to read most of the things she writes about (unless she hates them), she makes perfect recommendations for me. It’s like having a personal service. I have to say that everyone should have such a great co-blogger!

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34 Responses to BBAW: Blogger Book Recommendations

  1. Simon T says:

    Great selection, and great bloggers! I’ll be doing mine tonight, but have to look through my faulty memory to see if I recall which books came from which bloggers’ recommendations…

    • Teresa says:

      For some of these, I was able to confirm my guess in the posts themselves. But I don’t keep track systematically anymore. I am at least trying to read more books soon after they’re recommended, so I’m more likely to remember.

  2. Victoria says:

    I loved this post (and not just because I’m in it, though that was blushingly lovely) because it reminds me of how full of book talk and book recommendations my life is as a blogger and reader online. Like you I get probably 90% of my reading list from other bookish bloggers. When people say to me ‘I just don’t know how to find good books’ I’m always a bit dumbfounded until I remember how much being part of this community has changed the way I read.

    • Jenny says:

      That was such a wonderful surprise about starting blogging. I started it mostly to be able to keep track of a list, and I found this whole group of people with wonderful book taste, and access to books I’d never heard of! So lovely.

  3. priscilla says:

    I always find something interesting here…in fact, just from this post I have at least three books to add to the wishlist. *Sigh* It goes on and on….

  4. Lisa says:

    It’s the circle of books with Jo Walton, because I first read about her books here, with Jenny’s reviews of the “Small Change” series!

  5. Jeanne says:

    You two! I am so glad each of you read one of Harkaway’s books. I love them all, of course, but the Gone-Away World is my favorite because it’s so quirky and digressive and because of its secret, which I still find delicious. I really think Angelmaker and then Tigerman are better written, though–which is a good thing, because it means he’s steadily becoming better with each novel.

    • Jenny says:

      I’ve read all three of his! I agree with you EXACTLY that the other two are better-written (and increasingly better-written), but that I still love The Gone-Away World best. It’s so crazily wonderful and surprising. I wish I wish I wish he would come out with a new one!

  6. lailaarch says:

    I’m with Priscilla… since joining the book blogging world a little over a year ago, you all have provided me with great titles to add to my monstrous Goodreads TBR! I can’t wait to tackle the Angela Thirkell books once the TBR Challenge is over in April.

  7. You could do worse than these books, couldn’t you? Thanks for the kind words. My year of reading dreary American realists ought to cut the recommendations down.

  8. >>The tough thing about this prompt is that after eight years of book blogging, it’s hard to come up with great books that didn’t come from blogger suggestions!

    YUP. My reading spreadsheet from last year reports that I got 45% of my reads from other bloggers’ recommendations — which seems low, except a further 20% was a thing I called “author fondness,” and the majority of those authors are ALSO people I discovered through blog recommendations.

    • Teresa says:

      Yes, it’s the same for me. I found out about Jo Walton through blogs, but now I read her without recommendations. And then there are authors and books that are just in the “blogging air.” I wouldn’t be able to pin down a specific recommender, but if I happen upon them and feel a positive association with them, I’ll give them a try.

  9. Stefanie says:

    So flattered on of the books I loved so much made it onto your list! I stopped keeping track years ago of whether a book I put in my TBR came from a blogger because I realized pretty much everything I read I learn about first on someone’s blog. I have also gotten into the habit for books I am on the fence about of waiting until bloggers I know and trust read a book I might be interested in before I take the plunge :)

    • Teresa says:

      I’ve done the same thing with “on the fence” books.

      And did you hear that A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing has been adapted for the stage? I wonder how it works in that form? Could they find a way to capture what’s interesting about it? One of the theatres I volunteer for puts on a lot of experimental and dark dramas, so I’m hoping they’ll stage it if it’s any good. And I think she has a new novel coming out this year, too.

  10. Kay says:

    I just love the fact that we can all share our books and experiences. I always know that I’ll find a good book every single day.

  11. Some really interesting books here. I loved A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.

  12. Thank you for the recommendations, both in books and bloggers to check out, Teresa and Jenny! Thorn is on my wish list already. I can’t remember where I first heard about it. That seems to be the way of it for me. I have such a hard time keeping track of who recommends what. I am so grateful to all book bloggers though for introducing me to so many wonderful books.

    • Teresa says:

      I hope you like Thorn as much as I did. I didn’t even know the Goose Girl story, but I still liked it a lot (and looked up the story later to see how close it was).

  13. Kristen M. says:

    I used to find my books just by walking through bookstores and randomly finding books that looked interesting. It was tough going! It’s so much easier just to wait these days for bloggers to drop amazing recommendations in my lap. ;)

  14. Thomas is responsible for introducing me to May Sarton’s journals! Keep up the good work, Thomas.

  15. Kailana says:

    I keep seeing Thorn on lists and I have that book. I really must get to it!

  16. Thomas says:

    I’m just thrilled that you continue to write about May Sarton. I just know there is a bigger audience for her out there.

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