"When we want a book exactly like the one we just finished reading, what we really want is to recreate that pleasurable experience--the headlong rush to the last page, the falling into a character's life, the deeper understanding we've gotten of a place or a time, or the feeling of reading words that are put together in a way that causes us to look at the world differently. We need to start thinking about what it is about a book that draws us in, rather than what the book is about."
- Nancy Pearl, on The Rule of Four
Readers often ask us how BookBrowse's Read-Alikes are selected. Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and GoodReads use complex algorithms to generate recommendations, so I think lots of readers assume we do, too. Our method is a lot less high-tech (actually, no-tech), and far more personal: we pick them by hand. But what criteria do we use to select them? When we read about librarian Nancy Pearl's Rule of Four, we realized she was pretty much describing how we think about our Read-Alikes. Pearl asserts that "all works of fiction and narrative nonfiction are broadly made up of four experiential elements: story, character, setting, and language." She refers to these elements as doorways, some of them larger or smaller depending on the dominant element of each book: