So You’re Looking for Recommendations on a Forum

You have nothing to read, Goodreads etc. is not inspiring (or you don’t use it)… What do you do? Ask on a forum? Did you think it over?

No, I won’t tell you not to do that. I want you to think for few minutes, before you do that. I’ll give you some advice which will help you get the information you’re looking for.

Imagine such a situation in a bookshop:

Customer: I’m looking for a book.
Clerk: Yes, of course. What kind of book?
Customer: For my mother.
Clerk: What kind of books does your mother read?
Customer: I don’t know. But she’s 55.
Clerk: I see. What are her hobbies?
Customer: I don’t know. She just likes to read.
Clerk: Do you know what she read lately? Or her favourite book?
Customer: [silence]

If you’re (or were) working in the customers service for some time, you probably had situations like this. Now, that’s a hell for a clerk, a customer that doesn’t know what they want. What to recommend? Let’s say the present will be wrong. Who’ll be held responsible? Will the customer blame themselves for not knowing the mother’s reading habits?

The same situation can happen in the internet. Continue reading to know how to avoid that.

How to get the best recommendations in a forum?

Forgive me using books as examples, it’s easy for me to explain using them. And I had been exposed to such situations in book forums.

1. Think first, then think again!

Think for a bit what are you looking for. Think what do you want to read (see/listen) to and what not. You know now? Write it down, if you want. Now you can go to the next step.

2. Research by yourself!

We have search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) to help us with looking for information. You know what you want, so try writing this phrase into your search engine. Or few as they can have different search results. If you want to read a book kinda similar to a book you read earlier, try writing “books similar to [title]”. Remember one thing: somebody probably already asked the same question as you. Write down the search results – both that’s interesting for you and not.

3. Still not satisfied? Ask on a forum!

Forum is the last resource to get help! Explain what are you looking for and when you read something similar (liked it or not) write it also (but write your opinion). Write what got you (not) interested when you searched. Titles! Authors!

Don’t do this when asking for recommendations on a forum!

1. Don’t be too general!

Doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a present or a book for yourself, don’t put too little information. Like in the example above, age and sex doesn’t define suitable literature. Favourite or least favourite books and genres can define suitable literature (or anything else).

Let’s imagine you’re looking for a new book to read about vampires. You want something good, not to waste time. How do you ask for it?

A: Hey, I’m looking for a good book about vampires.
F1: Twilight. (Ok, that’s too much for me even as a joke. :D)
F2: Undead series…
F3: Interview with the Vampire.
F4: Dzieci Nocy. (If it was Polish forum).
A: Thanks guys, I already read them. ><

What mistakes were there? “Good” is too vague, can mean almost anything (lots of action, well designed world, characters, etc.). What’s the biggest problem in such a question? “Twilight” is a romance for teens, “Undead…” series is very funny, odd vampire queen, etc. “Interview…” is biography-like, “Dzieci Nocy” is a political fiction with vampires ruling over Europe. All about vampires, but all very different. See? It’s not good to be too general to get as many titles as possible. And… who could know what you read?

2. Don’t expect people to do your work!

Really, don’t expect people to give you out suggestions because you’re lazy. People are busy. They use some of their free time to help you. They don’t have to.

3. Don’t forget to write back!

After you get some suggestions, don’t forget to write what you read or are reading and what you think about it. Any feedback, not only “That’s it! That’s the book I was looking for!”, is helpful for readers looking for similar books.

And don’t forget to thank for the help.


This won’t mean you’ll always get answers you want. But it makes it more probable. Sometimes, perhaps, a topic might be overlooked, so try asking again.


One thought on “So You’re Looking for Recommendations on a Forum”

  1. Do you have other suggestion on how to look for recommendations on forum? Do you have any stories related to that? Share with us in the comments.

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