Follow the Reader is all about creating and nurturing the community around books. We like to talk about the people who are helping bring great books to life, and the people who are helping spread the word about those books. And, we don’t want to forget the people who are creating new ways for people to spread the word about books.
I recently spent some time chatting with the people behind some very nifty web-based tools– tools created with the sole purpose of facilitating engagement around books. In today’s post, I’m happy to introduce to you Eric Mueller and Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations!
Flashlight Worthy Books launched last summer with one goal in mind: helping readers find something great to read. Featuring “handpicked book recommendations,” the site is a collection of over 250 lists of great books spread across 54 categories– spanning every subject from “Understanding the Financial Crisis” to “Memoirs of The First Year of Teaching.” There’s also large collections of lists of children’s books, award-winners (“Nominees for the 2009 Hugo Awards”) and dozens of other subjects.
Eric Mueller, the co-founder of Flashlight Worthy, explains further: “The overriding criterion for recommending a book on the site is that it’s ‘flashlight-worthy’– that is, good enough that it’ll keep you up past your bedtime, reading under the covers with a flashlight!”
Many of FLW’s lists come from authors who have expertise in their area– for example, Robert Rodi, an author with nine published novels, recently wrote his first personal memoir (about getting involved in the dog agility training circuit). When approached to make a list, Rodi named his nine favorite personal memoirs, writing a brief blurb for each about why it made his list. In this way, not only do readers learn about nine great books, but they also become acquainted with an author they may not already know. Clicking any of the books links to Amazon for more detailed information.
“The whole idea behind the site is that you’ll come across a list and the descriptions will ‘speak’ to you, or you’ll even already know a book or two on the list,” says Eric. “Then the other books on the list have some context.” Take, for example, Eric’s self-curated list: Great Books About Magicians or Circuses (“my reading tastes are nothing if not quirky”)–After adding it to the site, he was pleased that he received several comments from readers who enjoyed his suggestions, and one reader even suggested a book about circus life that he read and subsequently added to the list.
“As random as circuses and magicians may be for a list of books, I knew there were other people who would enjoy the books, and I was surprised when someone even emailed me about book of circus-related essays that fit perfectly on the list… it really demonstrates the value of the site.”
Flashlight Worthy has grown quickly over the past year and was honored in February with a Shorty Award (the awards for the best Twitter content) for its book-recommendation tweets. In addition to the main site and Twitter page, Flashlight Worthy also regularly posts book recommendations on its Facebook fan page. Check them out – and add a list or two of your own!
Tomorrow: Virtual Ways to Connect Around Books, Pt. 2: BookGlutton.com