Book recommendations are not enough

Posted by sofia, on April 29, 2016  

If I’m looking for a good book, book recommendations are usually a good place to start. After all, there are almost half a million romantic books on Amazon which are rated 4 stars and up, so I need to start somewhere, right?

The problem is that I’m often disappointed with book recommendations I receive. Even if the recommendation came from a trusted friend, with similar tastes to mine, it seems that’s not enough to guarantee I’ll like the book as well.

Which brings me to the conclusion that I can’t count on book recommendation.


It gets worse. I can’t count on my own recommendations too. 

I often re-read books I love. From time to time, I’m surprised to discover that a book I thought was “Wow” a few months ago, can only pass as “Ok” now. Am I really that indecisive?


I got a little worried, so I’ve done some research. I’ve discovered a persuasion technique called The Perceptual ContrastAccording to this method, we evaluate things against something recent, and not against an absolute standard. It’s a psychological vulnerability which influences our decisions. Sales professionals use it like this: To make a product seem cheap, they’ll offer it after an expensive product. To make a product look appealing, they’ll offer it after an inferior one. The good news are we can use it to our advantage too. If you want to look pretty, for example, a simple solution would be to stand next to someone ugly.  


Back to books. According to the contrast effect, when we appraise a book, we subconsciously compare it to our recent read. You’ll find a book more funny, if you read it after a boring one. You’ll think a story is predictable, if you read it after a story with lots of twists and turns. In other words, our reaction to books is circumstantial. 

Sorry book, it’s not you and it’s not me. It’s the other book.


If book recommendations aren’t enough, what can we do to make sure we enjoy our next read?

Personally, I believe in the wisdom of the crowd, that’s why on SofaGirls, you can search for books not only by the Amazon ratings, but also by the number of Amazon reviewers.


Another way to improve the chances of enjoying our next read, is to have more accurate expectations. If you expect a book to be steamy, it will be disappointing to discover it has only fade-to-black sex scenes. If you don’t like to read about cheating, you’ll react to it more strongly if it surprises you during a read. And don’t get me started on cliff-hangers. From the reviews I read on Amazon, it’s the number one threat to those fragile Amazon stars.


The good news is SofaGirls helps with that too. Cliff-hanger and Cheating are book tags examples, which you can look for in a SofaGirls book entry. Heat level, the number of pages, the number of reviewers along with the Amazon rating information are additional attributes of a book entry. If you know those in advance, and choose the ones you love, you’re more likely to enjoy your book.


  1. Jessica Aspen said on May 26, 2016 Reply
    Love the variety of your book categories. What a fabulous idea to have things like, the end, etc. :)
    1. Sofia said on May 26, 2016 Reply
      Thank you!
  2. ZoeMullins said on May 13, 2016 Reply
    I really like, as both a writer and a reader, your book tag feature. I read voraciously and until I became a writer, I never thought twice about reviews, because they are very subjective. Just because you loved/hated it doesn't mean I will. But I will search (and I love my publishers website for this) based on tags... what can I expect in that book. light bdsm, sassy heroine, alpha hero - check, check, check! I want to read it!
    1. Sofia said on May 13, 2016 Reply
      Hi Zoe, thanks for the feedback! I'm glad I have all your favorite tags on SofaGirls :) Let me know if there's another tag you would like to search books by.

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