One of the ubiquitous features of online searching and shopping is the “Recommended for You” list; every major site has algorithms to identify items you will probably like based on what you’ve already read or purchased. A significant side effect is what has been termed Filter Bubbles – since we are increasingly exposed to ideas similar to our own, we are less and less exposed to alternative viewpoints, with obvious costs to society.
When I buy a book from Amazon I rarely get a recommendation that surprises me. In honor of International Children’s Book Day (April 2) and Mark Twain Remembrance Day (April 21), I suggest you look at Mark Twain’s wonderful recommended reading list for children from 1887. But first, take a moment to think about which authors might be mentioned there… Any successful predictions? For an interesting discussion of Twain’s list, see this article in Slate.com.
I was in the bookstore yesterday and overheard a father trying to get his son excited about “The Wind in the Willows.” If the kid had enough sense to listen, I suspect he’ll try to convince his own son or daughter to read the same book one day – or maybe download it directly to their neural interface.
In any case, some books last the test of time – and should be recommended reading to all. Feel free to suggest some personal favorites in the Comments section!