Where to get the best book recommendations
Updated: Sep 3, 2020
UNESCO estimates that 2.2 million new titles are published each year. So how on earth do you figure out what to read next? In this episode, Jenny and Sarah K discuss where we get our book recommendations from, how we find new books, and how we navigate the endless ocean of new releases, backlisted books, and books that are still unread on your bedside table.
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If you regularly review books on a blog, YouTube, Instagram or podcast then you can sign up to Netgalley. Netgalley is a review-based website where you can request new releases from publishers in exchange for honest reviews on your reviewing platform. You can search by genre or by publisher and it's a great way to see what new releases are coming out soon. Both Jenny and Sarah T are big users of Netgalley and hear about a whole host of new books that way.
There's a whole subset of YouTube called BookTube, where people make videos sharing their love of reading, discussing books they've read, and just generally talking books. We both subscribe to a fair amount of people, but it can be difficult to find channels that align with your tastes. Here is a list of the people we like to watch for discovering adult fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
Russell - Ink & Paper Blog
Russell is based in the US and creates really thoughtful videos. He shares a lot of lesser-known fiction, particularly queer and translated lit.
Mercedes - Mercy's Bookish Musings
Mercedes reads a really wide variety of stuff, both fiction and non-fiction. She has a great nose for new releases that sound interesting, and she isn't afraid of a little throwing a little criticism a book's way.
Seji - The Artisan Geek
Seji is based in the Netherlands and puts a huge amount of effort into her recommendations. She also has created some amazing resources for people looking for lesser-known books. We particularly recommend her Black Lit Compendium, split by genre!
Natalie - Untamed Me
Natalie is Australian, and does great long-form reading vlogs. She is constantly trying to perfect her list of Top 50 Australian Reads, and Sarah gets lots of Australian recommendations from her, as well as some nice reminders of home.
Simon - Savidge Reads
Simon is a BookTube favourite. He reads loads and has judged prizes, given panels, and interviews some really big authors. He lives, works and breaths libraries and books, and it shows. He's passionate, funny, and has a unique way of selling books that makes you want to pick up every title.
Lauren - Lauren and the Books
Lauren's videos are bright, fun and unapologetically upbeat. Lauren reads across a huge variety of genres but she also reviews feel-good, contemporary reads. She does a wide range of videos and also shares stuff about her life and her other hobbies, like board-gaming (gaming?).
Jen Campbell is an award-winning poet and short story writer. Her channel has nearly 60k subscribers and she shares a huge variety of videos, with a keen interest in poetry and fairy tales. As a queer woman with a disfigurement she is particularly passionate about representation in the media, and we guarantee she will suggest books you've never heard of.
Miranda reads so much and has a beautiful home library, including a huge collection of Penguin Clothbound Classics and Persephone books. She's well worth a follow on Instagram as her feed is perfectly curated and thoughtful. She's great for a cosy, escapist read recommendation. She also has her own podcast where she interviews top women authors and champions female writers.
Kieren - KDBooks
If you love following and reading the Booker Prize then Kieren's channel is a must. He's currently reading and reviewing every book on the long list and Sarah has been suckered into joining him. The Booker need to hire him to be their hype man. He and his partner have just had another baby, so congratulations Kieren!
Here are some channels we've recently discovered and are loving post recording!
Nokukhanya / prettyxbookish
Leynes / Books with Leynes
Danielle / Thunderbird Woman Reads
Chris / Chris Bookish Cauldron
We both like following book prizes, and discuss in the episode some of the prizes we like to follow:
Miles Franklin Prize (Literary Fiction)
The Baillie Gifford Prize (non-fiction)
If you've particularly enjoyed a book and it appears on a prize list, why not give some of the other nominees a read? Sarah's favourite prize is easily the Stella prize, an Australian prize celebrating writing of all sorts by women and non-binary people. It's easy to get swept up in book prizes, which Sarah fully understands as someone who has committed to reading the whole Booker longlist this year.
We are both really into podcasts. We really appreciate the love we get for The Bookcast Club, and want to share some of that love by sharing some of the podcasts we really like to listen to.
Books on the Go is a weekly Australian podcast that reviews a book each week. The three hosts are very funny, often disagree, and are very thoughtful and fair in their assessments.
Reading Women is an American podcast that celebrates literature written by women. There are a lot of hosts for this podcast and they have monthly themes as well as author interviews.
Sentimental Garbage is hosted by Irish author and journalist Caroline O'Donoghue. She interviews a different guest each episode and they re-read, re-discover and critique chick-lit and other books from their childhood.
Overdue is a podcast that discusses the books you "should have" read a long time ago. Each week one of the hosts reads a classic or "must-read" book and describes the plot. They use the themes in the book as a jumping-off point to discuss all kinds of stuff.
Backlisted aims to give life to older books. Each episode they have a guest who talks about a book they feel didn't get the acclaim it deserved, and why it deserves more attention.
Book Shambles is a podcast hosted by comedians Josie Long and Robin Ince. They use books as a springboard to talk about whatever they want, from literature to science, philosophy, comedy, politics, anything. They're fun-loving tone feels a good match with The Bookcast Club, which is why we enjoy it.
Thanks for reading. We hope this gave you some inspiration to seek out some new people and get more immersed in this world of literature we all love so much. Happy reading!