Life is Too Short for the Wrong Books and Why We All Need a Book Curator

Posted by Bijal Shah on

Jeff Bezos may have successfully crafted a sophisticated, global cottage industry for all kinds of authors from Indie writers to eloquent literary mavens but he also may have accidentally given birth to the book curation industry. In a world where a new book is published every minute, how do we filter what’s worth reading versus what should be shelved? Do we need someone who can curate reading lists for us based on our individual preferences, life predicaments, interests, reading habits and time constraints, that totally personalises our reading experience?

Apparently yes. Walmart CEO, Doug McMillan, a busy man, who’s constantly being sent books often expresses that “the challenge is filtering out which one you are going to read next”.

You can trawl Goodreads, Amazon and New York Times bestseller lists but that requires time and effort when we’re poor on both accounts. And can we trust every review? Are books only ‘bestselling’ because their authors have learnt to game the system? In a world where everyone is super-conscious of what to trust online, how do you entice readers with great books?

Being a voracious reader with a permanent subconscious need to rescue others and share stories of how a piece of literature might resonate with others, I could not help but jump at the possibility of creating personalised reading lists for time-poor people who just wanted to be told what to read. 

Some people want a reading list for their shiny, new coffee table; others want something spiritual after having lost a loved one. Others simply want some literary reading to accompany their travel to the cosy island of Fiji or books to immerse themselves in the literary culture of their summer holiday getaway perched in the foothills of Napier, New Zealand. Some are serious and prefer reading therapy to seeing their shrink. They specifically want a book to help them deal with a relationship break-up.

They’ll also clarify that they only want fiction or non-fiction books or a trending genre. One lady specifically requested confessional poetry post an episode of depression.

Having worked with tiger moms and home designers, I know how important the book selection process is when building the perfect children’s library — ones that will be read rather than sitting pretty. The Julia Donaldson books may have made the cut but so did Japanese children’s author Yoshiko Uchida — a global, diverse selection for the cosmopolitan Notting Hill mum. I have also bought books for a friend who wanted to gift age-appropriate stories for her nephew on his Bar Mitzvah.

There is something therapeutic, minty and refreshing about prescribing books to others and maybe why we love sharing our new reads. What’s harder is self-prescription and figuring out our blind spots so that we know what to prescribe in the first place.

Send me your perplexing book dilemmas — I’ll dive right in, excited to share what I know.

A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I create reading lists/book prescriptions based on your individual needs. Feel free to reach out to me at bijal@booktherapy.io or www.booktherapy.io. You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and book prescriptions.

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