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The UnSuggester

LibraryThing has a new (well, I've never seen it before) utility called The UnSuggester. The concept is excellent: you type in a book that you own/have read/love, and it examines the amount of people who own copies of both books and then gives you a list of the books that you would likely not enjoy, based on the few number of people who own copies of both.

Let's try a few novels, just to give you an idea. Let's take Vinelandby Thomas Pynchon:

1. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper (expected 27.1, found 0; unsuggestions)
2. The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer (expected 25.2, found 0; unsuggestions)
3. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (expected 18.3, found 0; unsuggestions)
4. Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (expected 16.5, found 0; unsuggestions)
5. Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper (expected 16.2, found 0; unsuggestions)
6. Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller (expected 15, found 0; unsuggestions)
7. Magic's Promise by Mercedes Lackey (expected 22.4, found 1; unsuggestions)
8. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (expected 37, found 2; unsuggestions)
9. Magic's Price by Mercedes Lackey (expected 22.1, found 1; unsuggestions)
10. The Pact: A Love Story by Jodi Picoult (expected 22.1, found 1; unsuggestions)

Some books on Christian theology, some teen romance and some poor fantasy. That sounds about right. What about The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe?

1. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (expected 37.3, found 0; unsuggestions)
2. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (expected 32.6, found 0; unsuggestions)
3. Bel Canto: A Novel by Ann Patchett (expected 29.9, found 0; unsuggestions)
4. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (expected 29.5, found 0; unsuggestions)
5. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb (expected 42.3, found 1; unsuggestions)
6. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom (expected 40.4, found 1; unsuggestions)
7. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk (expected 25, found 0; unsuggestions)
8. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: A Novel by Rebecca Wells (expected 34.9, found 1; unsuggestions)
9. My Sister's Keeper: A Novel by Jodi Picoult (expected 31.4, found 1; unsuggestions)
10. Good in Bed: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner (expected 20.6, found 0; unsuggestions)

So what about your favorite book?

About this entry


I appear to have broken tastes. An unsuggestion list for Coupland's Generation X (not necessarily my favourite book, but the first that sprang to mind) is full of novels by Tamora Pierce, who regular readers of my comics reviews will surely know wrote White Tiger, a series I am enjoying quite well.

Admittedly, her novels are, I understand, mainly aimed at teenage girls, but it certainly raises some interesting questions about how well you can trust someone claiming that Tamora Pierce wouldn't interest me based purely on what other people think of her.

Taking the first K-PAX - a series of books that, while I enjoyed enough to buy all 3 and re-read them, aren't my favourite - suggestion 6 in the list is the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe, who is probably the only author I ever bought a "complete works" of, and later in the list is Freakonomics, which I enjoyed very much. I'm not sure what this tells me to be honest. Presumably, that my tastes are individual, which is something I think we'd all be very unsurprised to discover about ourselves.I agree that conceptually this is a brilliant idea, but the execution doesn't appear to be working entiirely well.

By James H
December 18, 2006 @ 2:31 am

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Well, yes. The UnSuggester is not based on any aesthetic quality of the works, but it's rather a comparative list between how many people own copies of both books. If zero people own copies of both, then it's probable that particular book will show up on the list, whether or not you would enjoy it or not. I wouldn't trust it very far, but I think it's a really interesting experiment.

By Austin Ross
December 18, 2006 @ 4:05 am

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I dunno who this John Piper is but it seems an awful lot of his books don't get along with Gravity's Rainbow...

By Philip J Reed, VSc
December 18, 2006 @ 4:49 am

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Everything all right?
See you tonight.

By mlmsbook
June 15, 2007 @ 5:58 am

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