Our First Reader – 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:
- Genres that she enjoys: Literary/classics, action/adventure, drama, fantasy, historical fiction, humor, multicultural, non-fiction, science fiction, graphic novels/manga
- Non-fiction topics of interest: art, biography/autobiography, natural science, humor, music, history, travel.
- Favorite authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Haruki Murakami, Chimamanda Adiche, Yoko Ogawa, Kenzaburo Oe, David Mitchell, Banana Yoshimoto, Kurt Vonnegut
- Least favorite authors: Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Meyer
- 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.
- 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”
- Do she need characters to be likeable to enjoy a book?: No
- 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).
- How do she feel about violence in books: It’s okay as long as it’s appropriate to the theme/plot
- Classic or contemporary: “I like both equally”
- 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.
- Specific requests for her book match? Mostly just has to be available in print . . . I don’t do much e-reading.
- Additional info about reading tastes? My real favorites are multicultural, literary fiction with preference to female authors—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!)