Books and music recommendations are two of my favorite ways to meet new people. “Oh, you like X band? Me too, what else do you like?” “Oh, you like Y book? I hated it, what did you like about it?” So when I read about a website that is the “Pandora of books,” I had to give it a shot.

For those of you not familiar with Pandora, it’s a website that allows you to create radio stations based on a band, genre, or song. It then generates an entire station based on which songs you vote up or down using the “Music Genome Project,” perfect for when you really want a specific style of music. BookLamps uses a similar “Book Genome Project” to suggest books similar to ones you’ve already read and enjoyed. This article in Flavorwire, “Like Pandora? Try a literary offshoot, Booklamp,” describes a few tests the author did to see how good BookLamp really was at suggesting similar books. While some of the suggestions were a bit weird, overall the author decided it’s a fun little tool.

And BookLamp agrees that they aren’t perfect yet. On their website, BookLamp.org, they say “…we get better every day, and you can help us do that. Use the site; we’ll learn from your interaction. If you like what we’re doing, let us know. We need publishers willing to work with us on the project. So if you know one, introduce us. There’s lots of ways to help.” The thing I like most about BookLamp is that it isn’t user generated, unlike many of the recommendations on GoodReads or Amazon where the most popular books are most often suggested. Based on many factors, and which publishers have allowed them access to their books, BookLamp suggests books that most closely match, not which ones are rated highest or most popular right now (great for those of us who tend to dislike the most recent “it” book).

BookLamp started with a group of students at the University of Idaho in 2003, with the mission to “be the best in the world at applying science to the written word; to know and share more knowledge about books than anyone else; to be an agent of change for readers, writers, and everyone in between.” You can learn much more about the project on their FAQ page, where they describe in detail the different features that make up a books DNA for comparison. And of course, find your next book by searching for similarly great reads on BookLamp.

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