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Our First Reader – Book Match!

book match

I’ve been talking about this new recurring post idea for most of the year and we finally got around to posting our first one. We hope you all pitch in to help us generate a long list for our first reader. Keep reading to see how this all works, to meet our first reader, and to see the list of books our panel came up with! If you want to be matched to a book, just let us know in the comment section and we’ll add you to our list!

Here’s how it all works: We pick a reader and ask them to fill out a brief reader survey that includes a range of questions about their book tastes. Once the reader has completed the survey, our panel of judges is asked to come up with 1-3 recommendations for the reader.

Our panel: Our panel is comprised of Book Worm, our three contributors (Nicole, Andrew, & Kate), and myself. I have also created a special guest panel for readers who ask for book recommendations that are outside our typical genres. Finally, you all are part of our panel and we hope you comment with your recommendations too!

So let’s meet our first reader…

Our first reader is Gwen. She has a blog that you should check out: Darkwillow1980. Here are her answers to our survey questions:

  1. Genres that she enjoys: Literary/classics, action/adventure, drama, fantasy, historical fiction, humor, multicultural, non-fiction, science fiction, graphic novels/manga
  2. Non-fiction topics of interest: art, biography/autobiography, natural science, humor, music, history, travel.
  3. Favorite authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Haruki Murakami, Chimamanda Adiche, Yoko Ogawa, Kenzaburo Oe, David Mitchell, Banana Yoshimoto, Kurt Vonnegut
  4. Least favorite authors: Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Meyer
  5. Favorite books: Wild by Cheryl Strayed, The Color Purple by Walker, Rebecca by du Maurier, Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Hardy, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera, Harry Potter, Wuthering Heights, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, The Georgia Nicolson Books by Rennison, Rat Queens by Wiebe. She likes these books b/c: beautifully written, characters who think deeply about the world. I especially like non-sexistly (sic) written female protagonists.
  6. Books she didn’t like and why: “Couldn’t finish Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; Didn’t like Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, because “it was essentially just a catalog of all the most extravagant brand names a ridiculous multibillionaire person might purchase.” Really disliked China Dolls, by Lisa See” which was incredibly disappointing because I’d loved all her previous books. The writing was just awful, and I couldn’t figure out why because she’d never written that way before”
  7. Do she need characters to be likeable to enjoy a book?: No
  8. When it comes to plot, check which ones you like: dramatic or progressive plot (chronological structure with rising action through to climax and ending with a wrapping up of loose ends), Episodic plot (chronological structure with series of loosely related incidents tied by common theme or characters), Minimal plot (e.g. experimental, post-modern work, thoughts tied together with themes without any temporal or sequential movement from start to end).
  9.  How do she feel about violence in books: It’s okay as long as it’s appropriate to the theme/plot
  10. Classic or contemporary: “I like both equally”
  11. Book pet peeves?: Love triangles, zombies, sincere sexism or racism (i.e. if it’s not being called out). Bad writing, awkward attempts at futuristic slang.
  12. Specific requests for her book match? Mostly just has to be available in print . . . I don’t do much e-reading.
  13. Additional info about reading tastes? My real favorites are multicultural, literary fiction with preference to female authorsβ€”but anything CAN be good as long as it is GOOD. If that makes sense.

Our panel’s recommendations:

Nicole: 1) Behind the Scenes at the Museum – Kate Atkinson. It’s a family saga, a little dark, some humor, literary, strong women (generally Atkinson has strong women, though it’s been a while since I read this one)  I think it’s told in a non-linear. 2) Kushiel’s Dart – start of a dark fantasy series, sophisticated, creates its own religion/culture, super strong woman but there is some really graphic sexuality – wouldn’t say it was sexist though …
Andrew: 1) Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.
Book Worm:
1) Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie based on favourite authors Murakami and Mitchell. This book is similar in style to the works of those authors and fits into the magical realism genre. It also fits her interest in international/multicultural reading since it is set in India and explores the impact of British colonial rule (and the end of that rule on the people.
Jen: 1) Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor. Reason: This is a post-apocalyptic novel set in futuristic version of the Sudan. The main character is a very strong female character the book tackles issues of racial and gender identity. It has magical elements which fit with her liking Murakami. 2) Nights at the circus by Angela Carter. Reason: Angela Carter was a feminist author known for her magical realism and feminist themes within her texts. I though Nights at the Circus was quite clever and think she’ll enjoy it.
Kate: 1) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

We want your help to fill out her TBR! Please comment with your recommendations for Gwen based on her answers to the survey questions above. What books do you think she will love?

If you want to be matched with a book, let us know here and we’ll add you to our list!

Gwen: what do you think about your recommendations? You get to pick one book from the panel recommendations and we will mail it to you! We will do this for every reader match depending on our funds (buy books through our Amazon link and we accrue prize money to give back to all of you!)

33 Comments Post a comment
  1. Eager to see what Gwen thinks!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 23, 2016
  2. This is an awesome idea! Can’t wait to hear what she thinks of the recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 23, 2016
  3. Charisma #

    What a great idea of a new ‘challenge’. Sorry, I know this time it is for you, and not for us, but it is still a challenge sometimes to choose the right book.

    I do want to be matched. Pretty please! (And also add Max to the list, I know he’ll enjoy this as well.)

    Liked by 1 person

    May 23, 2016
    • Both added! I will pick next person with the randomizer.

      Like

      May 23, 2016
  4. I love this idea! Please put me on the list.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 23, 2016
    • You have been added! We will contact you when you are selected. Order is determined by the randomizer

      Like

      May 23, 2016
  5. Tanya #

    I would like to sign up. It would be interesting to see what would be chosen for me. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    May 23, 2016
    • I added you to the list. We will contact you when it is your turn (randomizer selects the order)

      Like

      May 23, 2016
  6. Jo #

    What a great idea! I’d love to take part πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    May 23, 2016
  7. I’d like to see what you come up with for me. Count me in!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 23, 2016
    • Added you to the list. I suspect that you might be one of the harder ones for me. We have overlap in some areas but also some significant differences in reading tastes. I look forward to that challenge!

      Like

      May 23, 2016
  8. I back Behind the Scenes at the Museum. This is a book that did the rounds of all the readers in my family – mum, me, sis and bruv – and made all of us hoot with laughter.

    The God of Small Things is also very good. I found it upsetting, but in an anger against injustice way.

    I would recommend Three to See the King by Magnus Mills. I’d describe it as outside time and nonlinearly linear. There is a thread running through it, but it feels more like being in a dream than reality. Magnus Mills is one of my favourite authors, and I’d describe him as the quirky cousin of David Mitchell.

    I’ve now added Who Fears Death to my wish list now as well!

    I would add myself to the list but I’ve over 100 books still on my TBR, so I’d better not!

    Liked by 3 people

    May 23, 2016
    • I’ll be curious to see what you think of Who Fears Death. I’m not sure it’s one I would have recommended to you because it’s more on the fantasy side and for some reason strikes me as one that I think Gwen will like but less so for you (don’t know why I feel that way).

      And I’ve added Three to See the King. You had me at “David Mitchell.”

      Liked by 1 person

      May 23, 2016
      • Charisma #

        Me too πŸ™‚

        Like

        May 23, 2016
      • Now, I’m not sure you’ll like Three to See the King! Magnus Mills might not be Mitchell enough for you, and it’s the oddest of his books I’ve read. I’m thinking about your reaction to the Ben Marcus short stories you read. Mills isn’t off the wall “experimental” like Marcus, but I think you’d prefer All Quiet on the Orient Express.

        I like fantasy and sci-fi as long as the plot is credible. I’m using Who Fears Death to test out the union catalogue for the libraries in the Northwest of England to see if I can reserve a book held by a different library authority using my local ticket. I like a challenge!

        Liked by 1 person

        May 24, 2016
      • Who fears death is her first adult book since the author normally writes childrens/YA books. This book has a YA feel but with some difficult adult topics. It has some holes in the plot but I found it incredibly interesting as one of the rare books that looks at intersectionality of gender and race/ethnicity.
        I hope you like it. Thanks for the heads up about Three to See the King.

        Liked by 1 person

        May 24, 2016
    • Me three!

      Like

      May 23, 2016
  9. Charisma #

    Gwen, I would like to recommend to you:

    Given you like the graphic novels, I think you might like Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It has a strong female character, and I believe the book is written/drawn beautifully.

    I also think you might enjoy either The Last Illusion: A Novel by Porochista Khakpour. Even though its main character is a male, the “next in line” female character is extremely important to the plot. The whole book creates a feeling of the worlds of Haruki Murakami with his magical realism even though most of what’s happening is magical only if you choose to believe it.

    Liked by 2 people

    May 23, 2016
    • You’re right about Persepolis, I’ve read that one and I did love it. I really enjoy graphic memoirs. And if you think The Last Illusion is similar to Murakami, I’m pretty much already sold. πŸ™‚ I’ll check it out, thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      May 23, 2016
      • Charisma #

        I’m so glad you liked Persepolis, and I hope you’ll enjoy the books you choose to read.

        I do think it’s similar in a way I feel about Murakami, I do hope you’ll like it πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

        May 25, 2016
  10. I don’t think I’ll sign up (at least not now), but I’d like to follow along! I might, at some later date, offer suggestions, as well. This does sound like a fun activity!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 23, 2016
  11. These recommendations look fantastic! Several of them are ones that have been on my list for a long time, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. Nicole’s recommendations in particular are new to me, and I’m pretty excited about them based on her description.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 23, 2016
    • Ooh, I just saw the special message, Jen. That’s even more exciting, thanks! And such a difficult decision. I think I would like Nights at the Circus, because after checking my libraries I can see that it’s the one I’ll have the hardest time finding.

      Liked by 1 person

      May 24, 2016
      • sounds good. Can you message me your mailing address and I will send it your way. Eek, I hope you like it. Have you read any books by her yet?

        Like

        May 24, 2016
      • Just emailed it to you. No, I hadn’t even heard of Carter before now, so I’m really intrigued!

        Liked by 1 person

        May 24, 2016
      • Angela Carter is amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

        May 24, 2016
      • Yes!

        Like

        May 24, 2016
  12. JoLene R #

    This is so fun — I think I’m already on the list, but if not you can add me.

    Recommendation from me:
    The Fifth Season: it is a well written sci-fi/fantasy with some adventuresome pirates thrown in :-D. It was nominated for a Hugo and Nebula, but it is the first book in a trilogy where the others haven’t come out yet. (PS. I also enjoy the first two book of her Inheritance trilogy — just haven’t gotten around to the 3rd).

    Shadow of the Wind: loved the writing and the atmosphere. It is a book about books which is almost always good in my book, where a boy is dealing with his mother’s death finding solace in a particular book, but then discovers a mystery related to the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    May 25, 2016
    • yes! already have you on the list. Love Shadow of the Wind. I really want to get to Fifth season sooner rather than later. I’m going to use it for the “read different” challenge πŸ™‚

      I need to stop reading all the rcommendations or my TBR will explode. Unfortunately for me, Gwen has similar tastes to me (for the most part) and so all the recommendations she gets are ones I’m adding too.

      Like

      May 25, 2016
      • Jen I am having the same problem I am meant to be reducing the TBR not increasing it lol

        Liked by 1 person

        May 26, 2016
  13. What a fantastic idea. Will certainly watch this with interest as others participate. I have two suggestions for Gwen. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje and Norwefian Wood by Murakami. Both beautifully written, non linear novels

    Liked by 1 person

    May 26, 2016

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