Tag: Personalized Book Recommendations

Support Sarah’s Book Shelves on Patreon…and Get Personalized Book Recommendations

April 19, 2018 Community 2

personalized book recommendations


You may remember the first ever Sarah’s Book Shelves Reader Survey we did earlier this year where we learned a ton about our blog readers. I asked you to tell me your biggest reading problems and two of your top answers were:

  • Finding the Right Books for Your Taste
  • Finding People to Talk Books With

I promised that new features addressing both these issues would be coming later this year. Well, they’re now here!

These extra features add an fun dimension to the blog’s current content and will be available to readers who support the blog on Patreon (i.e. who I’m calling my “Superstars”).

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a website where you can join your favorite creator’s (i.e. blog, podcast, etc) exclusive community by donating a few dollars a month to support his/her work.

In return for your support, most creators offer “rewards” (i.e. exclusive content or services for their Patreon supporters).

While Patreon is relatively new in the book blogging world, you can already support some of your favorite podcasts and authors (e.g. The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, From the Front Porch with Annie Jones and Chris Jenson, Pantsuit Politics with Sarah & Beth, and fantasy writer N.K. Jemisin) on Patreon.

Become a Sarah’s Book Shelves Superstar by supporting the blog on Patreon.

How does it work?

By paying a small amount per month to join the Sarah’s Book Shelves Superstars community on Patreon, I’ll reward you with a level of personalized service and interaction beyond my regular blog readers.

You will get access to the following rewards:

  • Superstars Facebook Group – $3 per month
    A private Facebook Group where Sarah’s Book Shelves Superstars (i.e. Patreon supporters) can talk books and share recommendations with each other (I can only read so much and there’s a huge pool of blog readers out there that have great recommendations to supplement mine!). I’ll also be sharing my occasional unfiltered (i.e. stuff you won’t see on the blog) thoughts about specific books and reading in general. 
  • Monthly Personalized Book Recommendation and Superstars Facebook Group – $7 per month
    One book recommendation selected for your personal reading taste emailed directly to you each month. You may remember I did a free trial for a personalized book recommendation service last Spring. This reward is closely modeled on that free trial. Personalized book recommendations are time intensive, so this reward level will be initially limited to 20 people. 

Personalized Book Recommendations Details

I provide a book recommendation (not the actual book) based on your personal taste. You can purchase or borrow the book(s) in whatever format (e-book, audiobook, hardcover, etc) you choose from the store of your choice.

  • After you sign up via Patreon, you’ll receive a Thank You email from Sarah’s Book Shelves containing a link to a questionnaire. The questionnaire will give me more information about your reading taste (if you’re unsure how to articulate your reading taste, check out my post on How to Ask for Book Recommendations…So You Find Books You’ll Love!), so I can make the best recommendations possible for you!
  • Please complete the questionnaire in order to start receiving your personalized book recommendations.
  • Your monthly book recommendations will arrive via email the 3rd week of every month. If you sign up after the 3rd week of the month, your recommendations will begin arriving the 3rd week of the following month. Make sure to check your “Promotions” folder if you use Gmail…and/or add sarah@sarahsbookshelves.com to your Contact List.
  • Each month, you’ll also receive an email from Sarah’s Book Shelves asking for feedback on your most recent recommendation and any specific requests for your next recommendation.


“Two of the books suggested weren’t ones on my radar or TBR list. It was fun to read a book none of my Goodreads friends (where I get most of my book recs) had read :-)”

“I felt that [the recommendations] were truly personalized – she researched my reading past and worked with what I told her were my tastes.”

“The book choices were spot on. When I had read a book another suggestion was recommended.”

As always, please email sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com with any questions about becoming a Sarah’s Book Shelves Superstar via Patreon!

Support Us!

Get Free Personalized Book Recommendations For A Limited Time Only!

April 20, 2017 Book Recommendations 3

Personalized Book Recommendations

Get free personalized book recommendations from an actual human. 
Read however you want (i.e. e-books, audiobooks, etc).
Purchase or borrow from any store or library you want.
Save time.

Are you looking for the perfect book to give as a Mother’s or Father’s Day gift? Or just the perfect book for yourself?

Do you want personalized book recommendations, but don’t have the time to visit an independent bookstore, the library or browse the bookish Internet/social media?

I’ve got you covered!

I’ve been an avid reader for most of my life and have been writing about books for over four years. I’ve read hundreds of books that are just waiting to be recommended to the right people.

Sarah’s Book Shelves is offering free personalized book recommendations for a limited time.

How does it work?

I provide book recommendations (not the actual books) based on your personal taste. You purchase or borrow the book(s) in whatever format (e-book, audiobook, hardcover, etc) you choose from the store of your choice.

All you need to do is fill out a brief questionnaire to submit your recommendation request and I’ll get back to with 2-3 fantastic books that fit your criteria!

Full Disclosure

I’m offering this service at no charge as a trial for a paid personalized book recommendation service. 

Anyone who participates in this free trial will receive a special discount if you sign-up for the eventual paid service.


How to Ask for Book Recommendations…So You Find Books You’ll Love

April 11, 2017 Book Recommendations 14

How to Ask for Book Recommendations

Last week, I announced that I would be trying out a personalized book recommendations service for a limited time.

While creating this service, I’ve thought a lot about how to give the best book recommendations possible…which in turn got me thinking about how to ask for book recommendations so you’ll have the best chance of finding a book that fits your personal taste. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts!

Most importantly, know yourself and your reading taste.

The clearer you can be about your reading tastes and preferences, the better book recommendations you will get!

Beyond what books and authors you like and don’t like, pay attention to why you like (or don’t like) a particular book or author. You’ll be surprised at the patterns you’ll find! Beyond knowing you like a certain genre, think about what you like or don’t like about books in that genre. These revelations can then be applied across all genres and help you expand your reading horizons in a more purposeful way.

For example, I’ve had trouble with mysteries and thrillers lately. I’ve figured out it’s because they can seem formulaic after awhile, rely more on plot than writing or style, and generally have “shocking” twists and/or endings that are either A) not surprising or B) so surprising that I roll my eyes at the ridiculousness.

Consider how you feel about key literary elements.

I’ve found that certain characteristics of books are much more important than a book’s topic in determining the right fit.

  • Length
    Are you open to chunky books (more than 400 pages) or do you prefer something short?
  • Plot vs. Style
    Do you need a propulsive plot to love a book or can you also enjoy quieter books that have gorgeous writing? Obviously, it’s ideal to have both, but many books don’t.
  • Likable / Relatable Characters
    Can you enjoy a book that has predominantly dislikable characters or do dislikable characters kill a book for you? Do you have to relate to at least one character to love the book?
  • The Happiness Factor
    Do you like to read books that are light and happy? Or at least end up that way? Do you mind emotional gut-wrenchers and/or books with dark storylines?
  • Humor
    Humor is a tough one, as it’s such a personal thing. Everyone finds different things funny and what one person finds funny, another could find offensive. How do you feel about inappropriate humor? Morbid humor? Gross-out humor? Snarky humor?
  • Endings
    Do you like your endings to resolve all the big questions (or, as I like to call it, “tied up neatly with a bow”)? Or, can you still be satisfied with an ending that leaves things somewhat unresolved?

Figure out what types of “outside of your comfort zone” books you might be willing to try.

I’ve had some good luck venturing outside of my literary fiction comfort zone lately. I’ve read a couple fascinating Science Fiction books and some gorgeous short story collections, both of which are outside of my wheelhouse. I know that I can carefully venture into these two genres for books that come recommended from trusted sources.

I’m also pretty comfortable in the fact that romance novels, fantasy series, and cozy mysteries are probably not going to work for me.

And, the answer to this question for you could very well be none, which is completely fine. But, at least you’ll know the answer!

Keep a record of your reading.

Some readers may know exactly what types of books they like and how they feel about the key literary elements I mentioned above. But, it’s perfectly fine if you don’t!

To get a handle on your personal reading taste, try keeping a record (spreadsheet, journal, scrap paper, whatever works for you!) of the books you like and why you liked them (and do the same for books you don’t like) for a month or two. Look for patterns in your likes and dislikes across books.

Now it’s time to put this to the test!
Participate in a limited time, free trial of my


Coming Soon: Personalized Book Recommendations

April 4, 2017 Book Recommendations 26

Personalized Book Recommendations

Click HERE to submit a recommendation request.

My regular readers might remember a few months back when I got introspective about where I wanted to take this blog (you can get a refresher here and here if you’re interested). I mentioned that I was planning to test run a small book recommendations project around Mother’s / Father’s Days.

Personalized book recommendations are what I was referring to.

After reading the book reviews and lists on my blog, people frequently reach out to me asking for a particular type of book recommendation. Which got me thinking about about book recommendation services…

There are many book recommendation services available at the moment:

  • Amazon and Goodreads use computer algorithms to tell you what you might enjoy based on what you’ve previously purchased (Amazon) and added to your various lists (Goodreads). 
  • Book of the Month Club allows members to choose from five curated selections each month and mails you a hardcover book (incidentally, this is a great service if you like reading hardcover books and aren’t looking for personalized recommendations).
  • Some independent bookstores (i.e. Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA) also have personalized recommendation services where they mail you either a hardcover or paperback of the book they recommend for you. 

But, I keep thinking, why aren’t there more book recommendation services…

  • For people who prefer to e-read or listen to audiobooks?
  • Where humans give you a recommendation based on your personal tastes? Like the internet version of your neighborhood independent bookseller?
  • That pair personalized book recommendations with the freedom to choose your format and retailer?

So, I’m excited to announce a test run for a personalized book recommendations service from Sarah’s Book Shelves!

It will be a limited (and free) trial for the Mother’s / Father’s Day holidays (mid-April through mid-June) to gauge interest and gather your valuable feedback (via a follow-up survey).


Bonus! If you participate in the Mother’s / Father’s Day trial, you will receive a special discount if you sign-up for the paid service when it officially launches.

How Will the Trial Work?

  • Click on the Get Personalized Book Recommendations option on the Sarah’s Book Shelves menu (this option isn’t there right now, I will add it when I launch in mid-April).
  • Complete a short questionnaire about the kind of recommendation you’re looking for, and whether it’s for you or a gift.
  • I will email you 2-3 book recommendations that fit your criteria within a few days.
  • If your recommendations are for a gift, I can 1) email them directly to you so you can purchase the book(s) in whatever format you prefer OR 2) I can email the recommendations directly to your gift recipient!
  • After you receive your recommendations, I will send you a brief survey to complete. Everyone who completes a survey will be entered to win a $15 gift certificate to Amazon (which will generally cover at least one e-book or paperback).

After the test run…

I’ll review the survey and hope to launch the paid service in one of the following formats:  

  • A simple personalized book recommendation service where you can either buy one-time recommendations or a monthly subscription.
  • A premium level of Sarah’s Book Shelves content with a monthly personalized book recommendation as its key element, in addition to a few other features.

I’d love your feedback on this new endeavor. Please feel free to leave a comment or email me directly at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com.

Get Weekly Email Updates!