I’m sure you’re all familiar with Buzzfeed, the site where you can read the news and also fall down a black hole of pointless but fun posts about pretty much nothing. It is also the site where you can take a quiz to find out which character from The Office you are (Pam) or how much you actually know about pasta (a lot – I’m half Italian). OR you can use said quizzes to find out what book you should read next. Which is exactly what I did.
I ended up with five book recommendations based on things like my Taco Bell order or what my ideal rainy day looks like and I’m going to read them all and see how well Buzzfeed knows me from quizzes about super random things. (It took A LOT of quizzes to come up with books I hadn’t already read. Just in case you were wondering how I ended up with this bunch.) Keep reading to see what my quiz results were and what I thought about each book.
Here are my quiz results:
The titles of each quiz are at the top of the images in case you’re curious. Or if you also want to do this experiment (because that would be fun!).
And what I thought about Buzzfeed’s recommendations:
I blogged about each book as I read, them so I could share my feelings as this reading experiment progressed. It was definitely interesting!
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
Who would have guessed that my Taco Bell order would have resulted in such an amazing read? Not me! (Especially since my answers weren’t totally accurate because not all of the questions had vegetarian options, but whatever.) This book has been on my radar pretty much since it came out, but I was never interested enough to add it to my TBR. Thanks to Buzzfeed and this Taco Bell quiz, I can admit that I was wrong.
This book was so good! I listened to the audiobook in a single day, and it’s almost twelve hours long (I did speed it up, but still). I loved it. It’s magical and poignant and beautiful. I don’t normally identify all that much with stories centered around mothers and daughters (I don’t have a great relationship with mine). But The Astonishing Color of After ended up being the exception to that rule. I am so glad I read this one. I’m one book in and already glad I decided to do this experiment, because I might never have read it otherwise.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
This was actually already on my TBR before I started this experiment. I got the audiobook from iTunes probably over a year ago (I think it was free or just a few dollars or something). So, I decided to go with that, which ended up being a good choice. The author reads it, and it really felt like I was listening to slam poetry at times. Which is what this book is about, so that worked really well. When I first started it, I wasn’t expecting to like it. The writing was good, but it just wasn’t my style, so I had a hard time getting into it. But I ended up really enjoying this. I didn’t know too much about it going in, but I really identified with the main character’s struggles to balance her family’s expectations and religion and her own passion.
I can definitely see why so many people love this one. As for me, I ended up giving it four stars. I liked it, but I did struggle to get through it at times. Still, really great book. So far, Buzzfeed is two for two. Apparently, my food choices make for good book recommendations. I’m pretty impressed. But we still have three books to go.
Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
This is the only book on this list that I hadn’t already heard of before starting this experiment. It’s also a fairly recent release (it was published in April of this year). Hence being the result of the “Which New Book Should You Read” quiz. After reading it, I have absolutely no idea why this wasn’t already on my radar. Because it was absolutely my kind of book! I really, really enjoyed it. I gave it four stars on Goodreads, but it was probably more like four and a half stars.
It takes place in what seems like an alternate universe Tudor England. And you know I love everything Tudor history. I love how Campisi altered everything just a little bit so that it didn’t feel like straight historical fiction, and she could create events that never happened. And being the Tudor history buff I am, I could tell she still did her research. Which I really appreciated.
Honestly, I kind of loved it. It’s super dark (there were definitely a few scenes that I found hard to read because it was kind of gory/violent), but it’s a great book. It was interesting and creative. I loved the premise of the sin eater (which was actually a real job, I checked), and enjoyed experiencing this story from her perspective. Another win for Buzzfeed with this one! I’m honestly shocked – I did not have high hopes when I started this.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
I don’t know how to begin with this book. I absolutely LOVED it! Easily one of my favorite books of the year so far. And I can’t believe I almost missed out on it. If I’m being honest, I don’t think I would have read this anytime soon if it wasn’t for this experiment. It was on my radar, but wasn’t anywhere near the top of my TBR. Probably because the synopsis sounds kind of bland compared to what this book actually is.
How to Stop Time reminded me a lot of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Clare North. Which is another one of my favorite books (and one probably don’t talk about enough). I loved the characters and the story. And I seriously just loved this book. Probably not going to stop talking about this one for a while.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but so far, I have rated everything four or five stars. I’m still skeptical about the next book on this list, but so far, Buzzfeed is kind of killing it with the quiz recommendations. Apparently the clothes I pick out (the quiz that gave me this recommendation) actually do say a lot about my reading tastes. Who knew?
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
I have been putting off reading Memoirs of a Geisha book for years. It’s literally been sitting on my bookshelves since like 2013. And it’s probably been on my TBR even longer. So I was a little nervous to pick this up. For some reason, I felt like I wouldn’t like it that much. I even procrastinated reading it for this post until the very last minute. (Side note: not a great idea to start a five-hundred page book the day before you’re supposed to finish it. Especially when it’s in the middle of the work week. Also, yes, I set reading deadlines for myself. And yes, I almost always regret it.)
If I’m being completely honest, I totally expected to struggle through this one, forcing myself to finish it in time. And I did struggle… with wanting to do anything other than read this book. I was in a bit of a reading slump when I started this, and I still ended up not being able to put it down (except when I had to actually get a little bit of work done).
It’s kind of ironic that the book I was looking forward to the least ended up being my favorite. I loved Memoirs of a Geisha. Even more than How to Stop Time. It has been a while since a book has captured my attention so much. And I think it’s definitely going to be a long time before I stop thinking about this one. I still can’t believe this amazing book sat so long on my shelves, unread. I’m sure you’ve already read this (because it seems like I’m the only one who hadn’t), but if you haven’t experienced this beautiful book yet, you need to.
I am kind of shocked! I was not expecting to love the books that Buzzfeed recommended. But I enjoyed every single one of them! And even found some new favorites. Three out of the five books were five-star reads. And I gave the other two four stars. So this is definitely a success – even if it was completely unexpected. It could be a fluke, so I might just need to repeat this experiment. For science, obviously.
I do have one thing to note about my experience doing this. Like I said, I took A LOT of quizzes to end up with five books I hadn’t already read (#bookwormproblems). I took at least fifteen or twenty. Probably more. So, while they’re not included in this post, I did get to see a lot of the results of different quizzes. And I definitely noticed a problem with a lack of diversity there. I did end up with a few diverse books for this list, but the majority of results I got were books by white authors. Just something to keep in mind, and something I think Buzzfeed should work on in the future. (They do have a lot of posts about diverse books, but don’t seem to really take that into account when putting their quizzes together.)
Overall, though, I am really happy with how this turned out! I don’t think I could have asked for a better outcome.
Have you taken a book quiz on Buzzfeed? What did you think of the results? Did you enjoy this reading experiment?
If you want to read another “secret TBR” or reading experiment post, check out the one where I Read Retellings of My Favorite Shakespeare Plays.
I have another reading experiment planned for next month, which I am pretty excited about! If you have any guesses as to what that one might be or any ideas for future reading experiment posts you’d like to see, leave them in the comments!