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Recommended Reading

solves a problem you may not have known existed
 
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Believe it or not, this actually bothers me. For a while I kept a log of books I’d read, with notes and little synopses. Then I changed jobs and left it on a computer I used to use.

I realized, after a couple of years, that I was getting through, on the average, x books per year. Then I calculated my life expectancy (y more years) and was horrified to conclude that I would only read xy books in the rest of my lifetime!

What would they be? More importantly, what would get left out? What seminal, classic works would I never appreciate? What fun recreational stuff would I never get to enjoy? What incredible experiences would I never get to vicariously enjoy? I look at the book review in the (NY) Times and think, “Oh, I might like that,” but I may never get to it; there’s not enough time.

The only solution I could devise, and not for me because it doesn’t exist, but for others, is a consulting firm that will tell you, basically, what to read. This is a high-end operation, because it has to be uniquely tailored to each individual client.

The client would go in for a series of interviews. Reading tastes would be established, along with general areas of interest, educational background, political and sexual orientation, hobbies, musical taste, etc. What the client has already enjoyed is a jumping off point from which to extrapolate meaningful and worthwhile future reading experiences.

This is no “people who enjoyed (such-and-such) also bought (whatever)” website sales gimmick. Literary critics, psychologists and relevant specialists will comprise a team of consultants who will determine with the client which books he / she will benefit from / enjoy / re-read / cherish while he or she is able to consume them.

On perhaps a quarterly basis, the client will meet with the consultants to discuss life changes / book reviews / recommendations / new interests that have developed in his / her life in order to tailor the strategy to meet dynamic conditions. There may be a randomized book recommendation element incorporated as well, to account for the fact that random reading experiences sometimes lead to new avenues of interest.

If the client wishes to diverge from the recommended reading syllabus, thoughtful consideration will be given and the syllabus will be accordingly modified.

This program will not resolve the issue of reading lists that conflict with mortality, but may serve assuage the feelings of helplessness the issue engenders.

snarfyguy, Mar 28 2003

Isn't she wonderful? http://futurebird.bookcrossing.com/
[thumbwax, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

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       For those of us who read a lot, I think we are not likely to trust *anyone* else to pick our books for us. And for the rest of you, there's Oprah's Book of the Month Club. Well, there was.   

       I will continue to browse every book I can lay my hands on. And take recommendations from friends and book reviews and "recommended reading" lists.
DrCurry, Mar 28 2003
  

       I forgot to mention that this needs to be distinguished from "book of the month club" type ventures. This is a highly personalized, "hands-on" approach to formulating a reading list, arrived at by scrupulous attention to the client's tastes and lifestyle. None of that Oprah stuff here, unless that's what's called for, of course.
snarfyguy, Mar 28 2003
  

       Is it possible to be addicted to reading?
sufc, Mar 28 2003
  

       Croissant for making me realise that I only have a limited amount of reading time left (and as a result should probably throw out the book Amazon just delivered - Grisham's King of Torts), and read something with substance. +
sambwiches, Mar 29 2003
  

       Amazon.com already does most of this for me.
pluterday, Mar 29 2003
  

       I second that, pluter. If you take the time to punch in "ratings" for all the books you haven't bought via Amazon, the suggestion engine they have comes up with some excellent suggestions. (Well it does for music anyhow).
krelnik, Mar 29 2003
  

       [UB]: I've always been dubious about the benefit of speed reading literary fiction or, worse, poetry. How can the cadences of spoken language or the maunderings of internal monologue be appreciated without a natural, real-time absorption?   

       How can we appreciate any liguistic delicacy or nuance while we're barreling through a literary work like a freight train?   

       I can see, perhaps, consuming plot-driven thrillers in this way, but isn't careful and considered attention going to give a reader the most out of literature? Sure you can read more books if you read them faster, but is plowing through Pynchon or Joyce going to fully reveal the genius of their works?
snarfyguy, Mar 29 2003
  

       I'm always amazed by Amazons uncanny ability to decide what I'd like to read. Even when I take a look at something that seems totally unrelated to my usual choice it inevitably says, 'People who bought this also bought ....' and names every book in my house. I expect one day some guy will knock on my door and explain that amazon, and in fact the entire Internet, was just a big practical joke to mess with my mind.
sambwiches, Mar 29 2003
  

       The thing I don't like about amazon is the fact that they recommend books that are just like the ones I've already read. For example, I like to read about evolution and the origins of life and I've read nearly **all** of the popular books on it and it just keeps suggesting more. I like variety in my reading and have been looking for a way to venture in to new subject areas without wasting too much money on books I end up not reading. I have the same problem with music. I get trapped in one genre ... I'd like this service since they'd be able to help me to find things to read that were *really* new and different.
futurebird, Mar 29 2003
  

       What about librarians? They are highly uunderrated nowadays and would LOVE for someone to talk to them for a while and reccomend books. Hell its part of what they are THERE for. And they're free. Up with librarians!
notme, Mar 29 2003
  

       The idea is supposed to open people up to books they might otherwise miss. It's admittedly clumsy, but the spirit of it is exactly to keep options open and to reveal tastes you may not have known you had.   

       Recall that it's an interactive service that takes all kinds of personal experiences into account. This is the impetus that I imagine may deliver valuable reading experiences.
snarfyguy, Mar 30 2003
  

       Fair enough [ravenswood]. I'm just going to duck out and catch that new "Gravity's Rainbow" adaptation starring Keanu Reeves.
snarfyguy, Mar 30 2003
  

       [UB] - does speed-reading really work? I would invest in a course if I thought it did. I am held back by Woody Allen's remark that he took such a course and read 'War and Peace' in 2 hours - "It was about some Russians".
whimsickle, Mar 31 2003
  

       Or just watch the film <ducks and coversin preperation of barrage of complaints>
miasere, Apr 01 2003
  

       Will they help me with, say, understanding just exactly what Planck's Constant is, in addition to recommending the latest William Gibson?   

       This is definitely not what you get from Amazon. You can't just buy Bridget Jones amid the Hyperspace. Suddenly, you're inundated with true confessionals.
grecosartre, Apr 01 2003
  

       Or ladies' underwear.
DrCurry, Apr 01 2003
  
      
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