Hook me up with compatible authors?

Hi all, I’m new to Cafe Society. When I visit the SDMB it’s typically to wade through the Pit, so forgive me if this question’s been beaten to death. It appears I need some Olympic-class amateur help here.

I’m a bookworm and I’ve read almost everything by my favorite authors. Usually this is not a problem–after fifteen minutes in a bookstore I pick a new winner–but I seem to have lost the knack. I spent literally hours in Powell’s in Portland, OR–if you know it you’ll understand the horror and scope of my problem–without successfully finding an excellent book I was dying to read. (Apart from The Lovely Bones, which I didn’t want in hardback as I had to hop a plane the next day.) I’ve bought a lot of books it turns out I don’t have a driving need to own; they take up space until I find a store to resell them in for a fraction of their value.

At any rate: what I’m looking for is some kind of book-matchmaking service or search engine. Something into which I can plug my likes and dislikes, which would then spew out some good hits for my taste, or lack thereof. Preferably free, as lack of funding is what stops me from just buying every book I like the look of. Anybody have a good source for me here? I don’t want to saddle fellow Dopers with the task of recommending me a book unless someone is feeling selfless, but point me in the right direction?

:confused: :frowning: :confused:

Someone on these very boards recently recommended whichbook.

Heck, just ask us. I love giving suggestions, if I have any.

I nipped over to whichbook, but honestly I don’t personally go for the way it’s arranged: you set a marker on various scales like Happy/Sad, Gentle/Violent, Short/Long, and it spits out some titles. It’s not really what I think I want. I guess what I want is movielens for books.

So then I ran over to movielens and sorted movies for awhile, to ease my mind.

GMRyujin, if you want to run your eyes over a list of some of my favorites and see if anything occurs to you, be my guest: I like a lot of what these authors write, but here are the tops IMHO–

Jeannette Winterson, Art and Lies
Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale
Toni Morrison, Jazz
Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All
Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Chris Offutt, Kentucky Straight
Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace
Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai*
Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
Thomas Pynchon, V
Isabel Allende, Aphrodite
Gabriel Garcia Marquez Love in the Time of Cholera
William Gibson, Neuromancer
Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Peter Matthiessen, Far Tortuga
Shel Silverstein, Different Dances

If you see a trend & have any titles to heave at me, please feel free to do so.

*this book has nothing at all to do with Tom Cruise’s latest film. Not a damn thing. No relation, it was out of town that weekend, officer, it was never even in Aisle 5, no habla.

Based on the diverse list, I’d recommend Douglas Coupland, particularly Miss Wyoming, All Families Are Psychotic, and perhaps Girlfriend in a Coma. I’ve just started his latest, Hey Nostradamus!, so I can’t yet comment on it.

On Amazon.com (and probably other on-line booksellers as well), if you look at a book, they’ll tell you what other books and authors people who bought that book seem to like, and sometimes give you links to people’s lists of favorites that have that book on them.

You could also do a search in this forum for some of the many “Whatcha readin’?” threads. I’ve gotten lots of suggestions from those.

I’m currently reading Margaret Atwood’s “The Blind Assassin” and Leif Enger’s “Peace Like A River.” Both great books.

Other good ones I’ve been recommending:
“Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett
“Atonement” by Ian McEwan
“A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry
"“The Secret Life Of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd
“The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel
“The Lovely Bones” was really good. It’s still in hardcover, but it’s a small book. Definitely give it a read.
I would also second the Amazon suggestion made by Thudlow Boink. Except whenever I look at the “Customers who bought this book also bought…” list, I realize I already have all those books. I think I need a 12-step program for quitting books!

If you like Gibson, my guess is that you may also like Neal Stephenson–try Snow Crash. Then read the rest of them. :slight_smile:

Thanks, everybody! Good suggestions all; now I have a place to go!

Looking at your list of favorites, I’d suggest Memoir from Antproof Case, also by mark Helprin, if you haven’t read it already.

And since you and I seem to have somewhat similar tastes in books, I’d point you toward J. P. Donleavy. Dark, sexy, hilarious novels; he’s in my top five, but doesn’t seem to be terribly well-known for some reason. Try The Ginger Man to start with, or maybe A Singular Man. (They’re not all titled that way; just coincidence.) Donleavy was a favorite of both Dorothy Parker and Hunter Thompson, if that tells you anything.