BookVibe: What the World is Reading, 140 Characters at a Time


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I can spend 25 minutes scrolling through movies on Netflix and Amazon, feeling totally overwhelmed by everything I haven’t seen, while not really spotting anything I want to commit to watching. It’s a common affliction. Similarly, I can look at my to-read shelf (yes, it’s an entire shelf) of books and simultaneously want to read all of them, and not feel like opening a single one. It’s too much choice–I need something to narrow my selection.

Like a recommendation from Twitter.

A friend turned me on to BookVibe recently, and it’s been the perfect antidote to my reading block, as well as serving as an ongoing holiday gift list for all the readers in my life. BookVibe scours the Twitterverse for book talk and compiles it all into one big master list of trending titles, while also creating a personalized feed so that you can see what your own personal network is reading and tweeting about. Sure, you can create a Twitter list populated by people who tend to tweet about books, but BookVibe zeroes in on every tweet in your network that includes the title of a book, whether that’s @SenJohnMcCain (he’s an avid reader with wide-ranging tastes), a book blogger like David Gutowski (@largeheartedboy), or a friend who just happens to be reading something great.

In addition to lots of chatter about Richard Preston’s contagion novel, Hot Zone and the non-fiction version, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, I also discovered from the @BrooklynBased feed that I need to read Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng, and that before that anti-brunch shot that rang out around the interwebs last week, Shawn Micallef had already written a book that sounds like a particularly racy history dissertation, called, The Trouble with Brunch: Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure.

Predictably A Tree Grows in Brooklyn made an appearance on the @BrooklynBased BookVibes list this week. Other patterns will emerge, based on who you follow–I noticed that comedians tend to plug their own books, and their friends’ books (looking at you, @MichaelIanBlack). And while hilarious, the funniest people on Twitter also tend to generate some, shall we say, false positives? Like this tweet from @PattonOswalt:

My Ebola pandemic kit is a Fleshlight, an Austin Powers costume and a copy of Tuesdays with Morrie. #ready

–@PattonOswalt, Oct. 15

You can reply, retweet or thank Twitter user for their recommendation, which automatically composes a tweet with @BookVibe also mentioned, directly from your feed. And, you can save books that interest you directly to your own personalized reading list.

BookVibe’s all-Twitter trending list, which is like The New York Times Bestseller list, but based on conversation rather than sales, currently includes The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flannagan’s Man Booker Prize winner (remarkably, BookVibe predicted this win, by analyzing what the Twitterverse was saying about the nominees), Dune, and As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. Last week the list included Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, The Iliad, and American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, by Chris Kyle.

You can also click on any title to buy it immediately, though it goes straight to Amazon. The personalized reading list feature, I’m finding, is a great reference for that 15 minutes over lunch when you sit down and reserve your library books from the Brooklyn Public Library (#nerdlife), or for using as a reference to load up your Kobo–an e-reading app that allows you to buy titles from independent booksstores (their browsing feature isn’t my favorite).

Overall, BookVibe combines all my favorite things about the internet–it’s a quick look at what people are obsessing about right now for obvious reasons (The Hot Zone, Spillover anything having to do with Lena Dunham), while providing a window into the random weirdness of the world (people really love Dune, and voluntarily read The Iliad). And, it’s inspired me to give up on the dusty stack of New Yorkers in my living room, and actually read something cover to cover.

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