Sunday, January 29, 2006

Recommending gateway books

I have often wondered why Amazon doesn't introduce a more useful system of ranking and recommendations. The system of giving starred ratings and the suggested purchases (which always seem heavily skewed towards the last author I bought) are not very helpful, and it'hard to surmise from the written reviews what the consensus is on, say, which Philip Dick book you should start with if you want to give him a try.

A new site called "Debbie's Idea" tries to solve this by allowing you to endorse certain books as good entry points:

Long before the Internet was commonly available, Debbie had the idea that it would be useful to have a reference work suggesting which book of an unfamiliar author would be best to read first. Start reading an author with a poor or atypical example of his work, she observed, and you would likely never read that writer again—perhaps losing in the process a world of pleasure and knowledge. On the other hand, since there would seldom be one right book to read first, the resource would have to be a compendium of opinions.

Debbie died in 2004, at the age of ninety. This website has been created in loving memory of her and her very good idea.

I think the best Philip Dick book to start with is Ubik.