Bookish: A new website to find and learn about books

February 5, 2013

The book publishing industry has just released a new website, Bookish (, designed to “to engage more readers with more books, more authors and with one another.” The website, which was primarly funded by Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group USA, and Hachette Book Group, also includes books from 16 other publishers including major ones such as Random House.The Bookish website describes its purpose by stating:

Users will find a variety of tool on the website including:

Find your favorite books and authors–it’s easy! Our rich catalog includes book descriptions and author bios, related videos, other books by the author, Essential reading lists, the latest stories from around the web about specific books and authors and much more.

Explore our unique recommendation tool by inputting books you’ve recently read. Can’t settle on one title? Our dynamic tool lets you expand your search with multiple title selections.

Enjoy original book-related pieces, including author exclusives, essential reading lists and video interviews. Our staff of well-read editors cover books in 18 popular categories.

According to an article in the New York Times, Bookish was originally scheduled to go live in the summer of 2011, but was delayed due to updates to the site, including its book recommendation engine. The New York Times articles states,”its creators argue will be the most sophisticated available. Instead of relying essentially on the taste of other customers with similar preferences, as most recommendation engines do, Bookish’s tool takes into account critical reviews and awards. Eventually it will even reflect the insights derived from a reader’s own nuanced description of books — for example, that the reader found a book to be exciting but unsatisfying.”

The Huffington Post quotes the Bookish CEO Ardy Khazaei, “”Bookish was created to serve as a champion of books, writers and, most importantly, readers. Ultimately, we seek to expand the overall marketplace for books, and whether a book gets into a reader’s hands via Bookish’s e-commerce partner or another retailer, everyone – from the publisher, to the retailer, the author and the reader – wins.”

The site interface is very easy to use and book recommendation engine useful, if you are looking for a new book try it out!


Kaufman, Leslie. “Bookish, New Web Site, Provides Information on Books and Authors”, The New York Times. February 4, 2013,

Italie, Hillel. “Publishers Launch Online Site,, To Attract Readers, Sell Books”, Huffington Post. February 4, 2013,


Readers’ Advisory Website: BookBrowse

August 21, 2012

BookBrowse is a readers’ advisory website that offers a ton of book suggestions. Although one can subscribe for a yearly fee, BookBrowse has a lot of information available for free including:

  • Featured new books with reader’s recommendations and reviews.
  • Read A-likes lists
  • Featured author interviews
  • Find a book feature listing books by
    • Genre
    • Setting
    • Time Period
    • Theme
    • Award Winners
  • Book Club suggestions

If you enjoy looking through BrookBrowse, the Newton Public Library subscribes to a wide variety of Reader’s Advisory Databases. Links to the databases are located on the Newton Public Library website:

Slate’s Audio Book Club

May 22, 2012

If you are interested in listening in on a book club, Slate Magazine’s audio book club podcast is a great option. About six are produced every year and the selections are a mix of award winners, new releases, and classics. Slate contributors and editors select a book a month in advance so that listeners can read it before the discussion. The book club is distributed as a podcast through iTunes or Feedburner.

The book club participants vary with each book and are often very opinionated about the selection, the discussions are incredibly lively and full of candor. The book selected for June 2012 is Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel (click HERE to view the book’s record in the Minuteman Catalog). You can view and download the archives in iTunes and Feedburner, some particularly good discussions from the archives were about Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein.

National Book Critic Circle Award Winners Announced

March 10, 2012

The winners of the National Book Critic Circle (NBCC) Awards for the 2011 publishing year were announced on Thursday March 8th, 2011. Descriptions of the winners by the NBCC are below along with links to their records in the Minuteman Catalog.


Edith Pearlman – “Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories (Lookout Books), a collection of 34 Chekhov-like short stories that was also nominated for the National Book Award. The publication is the first from Lookout Books and a triumph for Pearlman’s distinctive storytelling, bringing it to a larger audience.”


Maya Jasanoff – “Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf), a book of fresh, original, and sprightly scholarship, by Harvard professor of British history Jasanoff, acknowledging colonists’ response to Loyalists during the Revolutionary War and the consequences for Britain’s entire empire thereafter.”


John Lewis Gaddis – “George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin Press), a book that brings alive the remarkable American statesman while also delivering a profound understanding of U.S. foreign policy in the 20th-century.”



Laura Kasischke – “Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon Press), a formally inventive work that speaks to the horrors and delights of ordinary life in an utterly original way.”




Mira Bartók – “The Memory Palace: A Memoir (Free Press), a book that rose to the formal challenge of blending her mother’s journals, reflections on her mother’s mental illness and subsequent homelessness, and thoughts on her own recovery from a head injury to create a heartfelt yet respectful work of art.”


“Geoff Dyer – Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews (Graywolf Press), celebrating critic par excellence who showed his love of his various subject in tour-de-force language.”


Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing – Kathryn Schulz

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award – Roberts B. Silvers of the New York Review of Books

The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC), a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. It was founded in 1974 to encourage and raise the quality of book criticism in all media and to create a way for critics to communicate with one another about their professional concerns. It consists of about 600 active book reviewers.

The Book Report Network

March 6, 2012

The Book Report Network is a company that provides an extensive and diverse set of book reviews. The mission of the Book Report Network is “to solve these reader dilemmas, with thoughtful book reviews, compelling features, in-depth author profiles and interviews, excerpts of the hottest new releases, contests and more every week.” The Network’s main site is the Bookreporter but their reviews are also organized by genre and reader type on a series of other websites. Links to several of their unique sites are below.  “Created for readers in their twenties, which we define as, ‘A decade. A state of mind. An age. A lifestyle. A time for self-discovery. A new perspective. An attitude. A philosophy. Independence. Freedom. A time to re-discover reading for pleasure – and FINALLY – read what you want.’ It is a place “where readers, writers, booksellers, librarians and twentysomething bibliophiles share the books they’re reading and the books they suggest you read as well. Before you come into your twenties most reading was by assignment for school with short stints for reading for pleasure, thus this is a time to broaden reading horizons and discover and explore books in a whole new way.”

Teenreads Created for teens, this website reviews young adult literature. One really unique feature is the Ultimate Teen Reading List. The Book Report Network describes this list as “over 400 titles that we believe are perfect choices for reading and discussing. Our dream is that schools will use this list to help them make their own for summer reading or, even better, suggest that students just read what they want from this list. How did we create our list? Titles range from young adult books to adult books that we think would be enjoyed by teens.”

Kidsreads Designed “for kids to find info about their favorite books, series and authors. Reviews of the newest titles, interviews with the coolest authors and special features on great books are our specialties.”

ReadingGroupGuides Provides book group suggestions and reading and discussion guides for a wide variety of selections.

The Reader’s Advisor Online blog: links to many “Best of 2011” lists

December 27, 2011

The Reader’s Advisor Online blog contains a compilation of links to many of the “Best Books of 2011” lists published by major periodicals. The list is located on their blog: The Reader’s Advisor Online blog is a great online resource for reading lists and information about new publications.

Bookgroup Guides

January 14, 2010

Next time you are looking for help on discussion topics  for your  book group’s  selection, visit  The site contains discussion guides for over 2800 titles as well as several “best of” lists of favorite titles.

Register your group and sign up for e-newsletters.  Participate in surveys and win free books.  Read the blog with links to author favorites.  Read the section on starting and running a book group as well as advice on choosing books.

Another great source for discussion questions is NovelistNovelist is a database available through the library and contains summaries on thousands of fiction titles as well as biographical information on authors and discussion ideas.

Lastly, visit the websites of  individual publishers who frequently compile lists of discussion questions for their current titles.

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