A cartoon I saw a while back showed a dismayed looking man standing at a customer service desk in a book store. The caption reads, “I’m sorry, sir, we don’t have any books with that title, but if you tell me the plot, setting and main characters, we’ll have it written for you.”
Ha, ha, you say, nice fantasy. But wait! I’ve just been introduced to a U.K . website, whichbook.net, that comes as close as anything to helping readers find a book to love. And, it’s so much fun to play around with the parameters of what you’re looking for that it’s almost like a computer game (Stump the Bookfinder!). You select four criteria, set the continuum cursors where you like (e.g., happy….sad, funny….serious), hit go, and the site produces all kinds of suggestions, annotated and linked with additional info. If you’d rather search by character, plot, and/or setting, it’s an easy click away to do that. Once you have your hit list, you can click on ‘borrow’ or ‘buy,’ and the site will direct you either to nearby libraries or bookstores. This is a U.K. site, so we Yanks have to click ‘Not in the U.K.,’ to end up at U.S. booksellers or Worldcat (and when I tried it here at the library, I got a direct link to our holdings).
Navigating the site is easy. You can sign in with your Facebook logon or create a new account. You can start your own lists which can be shared. And, you can just browse the site’s pre-selected lists of titles that share characteristics. Front page lists now offer A Terrible beauty, Comfort zone, Laugh your pants of, and Bad luck and trouble.