In the October 2018 newsletter we asked for website ideas and suggestions for a new book website. Here were your responses:

Chris: Your new project sounds very interesting! This may not be a new idea, but I would love to know what books an author is reading, besides their own work. I always learn a lot about a writer when I find out what entertains and inspires them. It’s also a way to hear about good books that are new to me.

Pam: Your new website sounds terrific! I love the printable list option, a games section I’m neutral, and I’d really like to see some interviews with authors, e.g., Michael Connelly, Laura Lippman. I’d also like to see my fellow readers’ reviews. I consistently use Goodreads to keep track of my read/want-to-read lists and, in doing so, refer to the reviews. I find it helpful in determining if it’s a book that I’ll want to read.

Your current website is great and I do appreciate your monthly newsletters. You’ve provided me with more possibilities of books to read–hope I live long enough to get them ALL read.

Ayesha: It would be amazing if the website could also have genres/categories with sub genres/categories eg sci fi with different sf sub genres: post apocalyptic, cyber punk… etc; & cross referencing (so something may come under Steampunk & Victorian, or fantasy & sci fi…) Of course that would be a lot of work, but maybe users/subscribers could continue to have input/make suggestions re what other genres/sub genres something may fall into… Would love to see it all come together! Good luck with everything

Thomas: Hello. I guess my biggest difficulty is finding books (fiction) related to my interests. Sure, I can do a search on Amazon but I hate their search metrics and results. I have to sift through dozens of pages of stuff and half of it not even related to what I am looking for. I find this pretty much the same for many products on Amazon. Walmart is even worse. And the library online search isn’t much better with too many useless results. Anyway, say I want to find a fiction book about WW2, Germany, spies and espionage. Or it could by Wyoming, mystery, murder, in the 1800’s. It would be nice to be able to use 4-5 search terms and come up with reasonable list of related books. Maybe there is a site that does this efficiently or maybe even yours does. I know it would be a tremendous amount of work to categorize books using specific terms like place, characters, time, type (murder, love story, law breaking, etc) or using other specifics. Even with Google searches there are way too many useless, unrelated results. I still have little luck using more detailed searches. In my opinion, after 25 years of development, the Internet search engine is still in the stone age to me. Perhaps some kind of cross referencing system could be created on your site. It might boil down for me in that I don’t want to start reading books that I later discover I am not really enjoying…I guess that is a personal preference. I thank you for the many suggestions from your site. I started reading the Peter Ash novels. So far, book two seems better than the first, which was pretty decent, especially the dog.

Carole: As a librarian, I think the printable list is a wonderful idea. I have a lot of patrons who like to read books in the order they were written in and I have steered many of them to Order of Books, but I have also found that they like to have a list to carry with them as they look through the stacks. This would be a great solution to their problem as right now most of them just write a short list on scrap paper from one of the public computers then come back and repeat the process for each author they are interested in. Please be sure to let us know when the new site is up as I would love to recommend it too.

Brian: I cannot find anywhere else to contact you on the site, therefore I have used this method to reach you. Possibly you might add a

“Contact Us” point somewhere at the bottom. Just for general use as I am attempting to do now.

The one thing that I have noticed about your site is the fact that there is very little information posted about the various Authors.

What I mean is their Date of Birth or Death if they have passed. I think that this is an important part of their information and should

be included at the beginning of their listing. I find this information both interesting and important.

Now I must advise you of the passing of Author Dusty Richards as I have not seen anything on your site about it.

He died January 19, 2018 at the age of 80. Great Other some of us may miss.

AJ: I’m excited at the thought of something new, printable lists would be great – though now I just keep your site permanently opened on my phone. What I really, really want – a brief synopsis of each book in a series to review before reading the newest offering. If I had time I would re-read each series before starting the next one, but that just isn’t possible. I have thought of creating one for myself, but have never done it. This would need spoiler alerts, as it would be a true synopsis, not a jacket cover teaser.

Theresa: I would love to see a section for those books that can make you actually “laugh out loud” or at least, a “great chuckles” section – thanks for listening

Staj: Thank you for all the work you do in keeping us readers organized and our TBR lists perpetual! I look forward to your new website. I think it would be cool to add a recommendation widget (a la https://www.literature-map.com/ ), one that would connect authors as well as specific books.

Ann: I’d love to be able to read the first chapter/few pages of recommended books on your website. You make recommendations and give a brief overview of the story but what I want is to be able to start reading the book myself – to see if I really would like to read it.

Sherry: I would like to see books listed by specific genre. Cozy mysteries, then food related cozies, book related cozies, historical cozies, animal related cozies, british cozies, etc. I love horse themed books and one of the authors I follow is putting together a list of authors with this theme. It will be a great tool to find new authors in that category and I would love to see it used with other categories. Not just cozies,tjhat was just an example.

Barbara: New site suggestion: Expanded “if you like…try” recommendations. As a former librarian and former bookseller this is the most frequent question of them all. While you currently offer a limited section on order of books a more robust and tangential section would be appreciated by many I’m sure.

Loretta: Enjoy reading your monthly newsletters and the comments made by many readers in your mailbag section. As I was reading, I smiled as I read your comments on Stephen Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger trilogy which is a favorite of mine. I also think that Grisham’s Sycamore was one of his best books. Through your newsletter I tried the Peter Ash series by Nick Petrie-and I’ll be following this series. I think you might enjoy this nonfiction — Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough which was very easy and extremely interesting to me to read. Through our monthly book review club, I have found authors and genres that I haven’t read, and find that I keep adding more authors to my “to read” list. You might like Caleb Carr who wrote The Alienist and the sequel, The Angel of Darkness – it’s gory at times but then those were extremely difficult times yet exciting times. We are reading Dark Matter by Blake Crouch for our October review. I must say, I would not have picked this one, but found that I liked this rather frightening book, and just maybe there will be a sequel. I’ll stop now because I can go on and on, like most avid book readers can.

Glad to hear that you are starting a new website and I look forward to reading. I like the idea of trivia games or little known facts about an author. I definitely look forward to the printable lists – since I’ve encountered a small problem here and there.

Vicki: Your suggestion of up and coming books from authors (especially series) is excellent. As much as I love a good mystery or thriller, I’d like to see other genres represented in your discussions/blogs. You can have guest authors on those? I’m glad to see Order of Books lists are not limited to mystery/thriller series, but include romance, science fiction, fantasy, and even children’s books.

Stephanie: Hi Graeme,I dropped the ball last month and forgot to participate in your question for the month, namely books or series of books we have reread. I have so many, I probably would have overwhelmed the site. But, oh well….maybe that question will roll around again.

As for this month, I apologize for ‘copping’ your own suggestions and expanding on them a bit, but I especially would like to see lists of books, in published order, by categories, and perhaps with a blurb about premise/plot. Including books for adults and children, and maybe even fact-based as well as my love, fiction is something to consider – but I can see how unwieldy this could become.. Being able to print them out would be a huge plus. I always check Google for books in order of publication and then look up the premise. But having one site to reference all of that would be cool.

Also, having notifications of new books coming out would be helpful – perhaps with a category of award winners. A few years back, Barnes & Noble placed cards in their book stacks defining the award winners – it was a cool way to alert the reader to new books, sometimes, to new writers. If it was an Agatha award, you kind of new what type of book it was, versus, others such as the Edgar. There are so many awards it would be impossible to list them all – I Googled them and these are just a few of the dozens I ran across: National Book Awards, Man Booker Prize, Costa,Hugo, Newberry, Edgar, and Best Debut books.

I think you are smart to branch out and open your site to more selections, more options. Growth is good, so best of luck with that and I look forward to seeing how you put it all together. Do you see this replacing your current “Order of Books”, or will it be a sister site?

Anyway, from one avid reader to another — best of luck in your new venture.

Rhea: Happy October!

My husband loves Michael Connelly and he’s read all the Bosch books. Did you know there is also a television show on Amazon Prime?

I love your web site. I used it all the time. Every time I find a new author, I go to your site to see the order of their books. They are NEVER in order on Amazon and it’s hard to know where any book falls in a series so you’re a lifesaver.

Interviews with authors would be fun to read (and probably fun for you to conduct). Personally, I would like the book reviews and suggestions to be separated by genre. I read a ton of books but not across all genres – I’m a mystery/psychological thriller/domestic thriller kind of gal. So I’d like to be able to skip over books in genres I’m not interested in.

Keith: I know it would be a huge task, but I would love to see a single paragraph plot summary that would appear when you hover the cursor over a book title within the publication order list. The problem is that my memory is failing as I get older, and sometimes a book title looks familiar but I can’t remember if I’ve read it or not. Also, some authors reprint old books with new titles (e.g. Barry Eisler) and I’ve ended up buying duplicates of books I’ve already read. There’s too much to read and too little time to do it without wasting time on something I’ve already read.

Along those same lines, it would be useful to have all the titles for a book printed together in the publication order list. Sometimes books are published with different names is the US and UK, for example. I had trouble locating copies of some of Olen Steinhauer’s earlier books because OOB showed only the UK titles in the list.

Minor quibbles aside, thank you for the valuable service you are providing to the reading public! I really appreciate the website and look forward to your upcoming effort.

Phyllis: I have wished for a way to search for books by topic – for example, fiction titles focusing on wind farms, or Ferdinand and Isabella, or featuring the local customs of Norway, etc.
My Bookclub has tried to discuss titles from specific nations, and has a hard time knowing how to find good examples.

Katy: You asked for categories for your new website (or for your newsletter). My suggestion would be for books that are not tragic, not downers, not horrific, not super heartrending struggles. So many books out lately have at least one of these characteristics if not all. Looking for books that make me laugh, or are fun – but are well written. Some examples I would include (fiction and non-fiction): Auntie Mame, by Patrick Dennis; Sourdough, by Robin Sloane; Nine Women, One Dress, by Jane Rosen; The Cat Who series, by Lillian Jackson Braun; Raised on Radio, by Gerald Nachman; Laurie Kings Sherlock Holmes series; The Harvey Girls, Women Who Opened the West, by Lesley Poling-Kempes; Who Could Ask for Anything More, by Ethel Merman… You get the idea – well written books that are fascinating without being downers.

Peter: For your new site, consider something like literature-map.com. It makes finding new authors easy and kind of fun.

Pat: I know and love your Order of Books site. I’ve used it time and again. But what I’d like is a list of series books that must be read in order. And/or a place to find series books that don’t necessarily need to be read in order. Our local library will often have series books starting maybe at book 3, 6 or further on in the series. I’m always concerned if I get one of them I’d be lost because of not reading previous books.

Linda: It would be hard to improve your newsletter as I think it is excellent. If you want ideas, the printable list of your 5 and the notable ones would be nice as I now just print them by hand. Also, maybe a reader tip line. I have been busy reading this month and have 5 I can recommend. “What She Knew” by MacMillan. Very good child abduction case. “The Girl Before” by JP Delaney. Good read,psychological thriller. “The Woman in the Window” by AJ Finn, very good , roller coaster thriller. “All the Missing Girls” by Megan Miranda, excellent mystery/thriller. Absolutely loved this one. “Say Nothing” by Brad Parks, excellent, my favorite this month. Thriller with a law based scenerio. Made me want to read more books by Parks. I pretty much stay with the mystery/thriller genre. I do occassionaly read other genre’s, but don’t read them with the speed of the mystery/thriller books. They keep me up at night . Thank you once again for the recommendations. Will try a few.

Angela: What about a reading club, where a certain book, old or new, is chosen, and people read the book, then have a group discussion on everyone’s opinions! No right or wrong opinions, just a good discussion!

Darris: I would like to see a short synopsis of the book. Not exactly necessary, but a preview of sorts is nice.

I am very thankful for your site. For too many years to mention I just read historical romances and was getting bored. (All have same storyline!). But now I have ventured into so many other areas I don’t think I’ll ever catch up. Your suggestions are a great help. I still don’t like science fiction, though!

BTW, the Jeffrey Archer Clifton Chronicles series was one of my favorites!

Elizabeth: I would really love a feature that could help with book club discussions, maybe questions or menus.
this sounds like a wonderful idea

Joan: Hooray ! What a wonderful site for a book lover like me. So warm and informative. I am going to forward your site information to my fellow book readers.

. I am an avid reader of M Flynn, Baldacci, Childs, etc. I find it much more enjoyable to read (or re-read) them in sequence. Perhaps once in a while a short description of some of the repeat characters., and in what book were they introduced.

thank you so much.

Janet: I wish I could find other sources for blurbs, the descriptions to entice you to buy/borrow the book, other than the ones on the book written by someone who read maybe just the first or last chapter. The words shocked and amazed are a giveaway that the blurb was written by someone who isn’t a reader. I have been disappointed many times when getting books based on the blurb. A book sounds really interesting and turns out to be anything but and I wonder what the writer of the blurb was imbibing while the they wrote it.

How about a reader’s version of the blurb? It means more to me to get a first-hand synopsis of a book from someone who actually read the book cover to cover as the saying goes. Since my book habit budget is limited I will only borrow new authors from the library to avoid wasting money. I was taken in by a Patricia Cornwell book blurb years ago, because I loved her series, and that book should be used for kindling now.

The world has moved to crowd sourcing all sorts of stuff so how doing that with blurbs or whatever you wish to call them. The attention span of the population is shrinking and so are the blurbs. I picked up a book the other day based on the title and cover art and the blub was two sentences –15-20 words– for a 300-page book. I put it back on the shelf. It was a new author for me. I don’t recall the author or name of the book now, it wasn’t that memorable but the cover art was appealing and I didn’t have time to stand there and read the first few chapters to see if it was worth spending money on.

What do you think, does it sound doable? Readers writing their own blurbs? I am sure it will require a moderator of some kind.

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Website Ideas & Suggestions