One of my favourite things about bookish blogs – their raison d’etre, I guess – is that you can pick up recommendations for books across different periods, countries, styles and prices. If I flick through the Sunday newspaper’s book selection, it’ll be a couple worthy biographies, a novel by a very well known writer, and some popular science. All of them will be published in the last month, and all of them will cost a fortune. Blogs tell us about books from the last three centuries, and can be either rare or available for pennies, about my hometown or about Sweden or Japan or South Africa – an astonishing variety of possible books.

So what I’m asking today, and I definitely want it to be interactive, is for you to tell us about a book you’ve read based on a blog recommendation. I often find that my reading life is one big network of books leading into other books – and the odd mention in the comments on someone’s blog will lead me into another direction.

It would be lovely if it was a book I’d recommended, but I’d also love to hear about books reviewed on other blogs – if you have a link, so much the better. Or, better still, post this idea on your blog, and put a link in the comments.

I’m going to kick off with a few examples from my past couple of years, all books I’ve really enjoyed. (The links are to the blogger’s review of the book in question)

Elaine’s blog introduced me to the first Jane Austen sequel, Old Friends and New Fancies by Sybil Brinton.

Lynne’s blog was where I first heard of Jerome K. Jerome’s The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.

Margaret at BooksPlease first gave me the heads-up on Crow Lake by Mary Lawson.

Karen made me pick up my copy of All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West

and more or less every blog under the sun pointed me in the direction of Rachel Ferguson’s The Brontes Went To Woolworths

That was fun. Comment here if you like, but otherwise do go and try this on your blog – it’s nice to look back and see how much of our reading experience is influenced by our blogging, and good to bring them together.

18 thoughts on “Recommendations

  • February 23, 2009 at 6:45 am

    in pre-blog days, someone I knew in an online book group would not shut up about "Miss Hargreaves" by Frank Baker. At that time it appered to be out of print but I was lucky enough to acquire an old orange & white Penguin edition of this unusual book.
    You can read all about it on the blog of the person who introduced me to it at

  • February 23, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Interesting post but crumbs – just “a book” that I have read based on a blog recommendation…? Looking at my top twelve reads from last year, six of them came to my attention directly from blog recommendations and one of them, Speaking of Love, came my way via you!

    I doubt that’s the only book you’ve enjoyed that’s come my way as my shelves (and wishlist) are absolutely packed with recommendations from fellow bloggers as I would much rather buy something enjoyed by a blogger whose taste I share than a reviewer.

    You also mention another advantage of doing so – you can buy paperback and second hand copies rather than having to wait for months following a hardback press review! With the number of books I buy, that’s a definite plus…

  • February 23, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I was introduced to The Love Child,One Pair of Hands, Can Any Mother Help Me?, The Feminine Middlebrow Novel, and Alva & Irva all through your blog. I've been a longtime reader but never commented before. Thanks for the interesting posts and recommendations.

  • February 23, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Most of the books I now read are recommendations from the blogs I read. The one that comes to mind is ‘A Dance for the Moon’ by Richard Burns. I had never heard of this author before, so I’m sure I would never have come across it. I think a must read for everyone, particularly those who are interested in the First World War.

    I’ve been introduced to May Sarton, Gladys Taber, Stevie Davies and many more authors which are now my favourites.

    The one I would love to read is ‘Miss Hargreaves’ by Frank Baker, which you have recommended; but the price of it is too much, and my library does not stock it. But ever hopefull.

  • February 23, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Oh, Jennifer, how nice to know that someone suggested a book by Richard Burns. He wrote such lovely books.

    As for recommendations, hmm, I’m sure there have been lots, not just from blogs but also from message boards. The first one that springs to mind is Donald Justice’s New and Selected Poems, which a message board poster sent to me a couple of years ago.

  • February 23, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I first read about Mrs Woolf & the Servants on your blog Simon and knew it was for me. I absolutely loved that book!

  • February 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Read “The Memoirs and Confession of a Justified Sinner” by James hogg.

  • February 23, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I too discovered Miss Hargreaves via this blog, and good news it is being reprinted in July in paperback.

  • February 23, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Most of the books I read I discovered on blogs, yours especially lately. But I’m going to say the whole A Dance to the Music of Time series, raved about by Levi Stahl at I’ve Been Reading Lately.

  • February 24, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Goodness, there are just so, so, many books I wouldn’t have read and enjoyed and loved if it weren’t for my fellow bloggers. I thank them for introducing me to Barbara Vine, the Maisie Dobbs series, Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, Susan Hill’s books.. I think I could go on and on! (I read a book on reading groups based on your recommendation!)

  • February 24, 2009 at 2:47 am

    Jennifer Dee wrote about _Miss Hargreaves_: “…my library does not stock it.”

    Always inquire about ILL – Inter-Library Loan – you’d be surprised what you can get. Darn, I suggested this and don’t even know if you are in the UK or US. Nevermind, I’m sure there must be something similar in the UK – give it a try.

    By the way, that’s one book suggested (heavily!!) by Simon that I did read – and I was fortunate to get it in this area. I do have access to two very fine public libraries (and both do ILL) but most of my borrowing is via the 5-College Libraries online search and the book(s) are delivered to the campus where I worked before retiring (also the one with the best/easiest access for me).

  • February 24, 2009 at 7:22 am

    I’m sure I’ve discovered several books through your blog. One that comes to mind immediately is The Mitfords, which I bought but haven’t actually read yet!

  • February 24, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I would never have discovered the delightful and funny Diary of a Provincial Lady, if I had not read about it here. I thank you for that, Simon!

  • February 25, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    It is a bit indirect, but I probably wouldn’t have read The Infernal World of Branwell Brotne by Daphne Du Maurier (and introduced by Justine Picardie in my edition) if Justine’s novel Daphne had not been so popular in the blogosphere. It is well worth a read incidnetally.

  • February 26, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Most of the books I have been introduced to tend to be new ones like the cult of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society. I will have a think about the older ones. You have introduced me to Strangers by Antonia White which I shall shamefully admit I wanted because of the cover!

  • February 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I’ve read many wonderful and previously unknown to me books because of my fellow book bloggers.

    I’ve just finished the brilliant Soldier’s heart: reading literature through war and peace at West Point by Elizabeth D. Samet. I discovered it via Sam at Book Chase (

    Then there was The ode less travelled by Stephen Fry via Eva of A Striped Armchair, Old School by Tobias Woolf via the Cornflower book group and Josephine Tey via many.

    I hope to add Miss Hargreaves!

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