It’s always a challenge to find new books that’ll not only pique your interest, but also to make you fall in love with them. Most readers rely on recommendations from friends or good old-fashioned Google. Now over the past decade, social media has really showed up for readers. Personally, I love surfing through Goodreads or StoryGraph for new releases or books that are similar to those I’ve enjoyed in the past.
But sometimes I need a breath of fresh air and to see what people from other corners of the internet are reading. So here comes Reddit, which I can’t decide is my savior or nemesis, but goodness can I kill an afternoon going down a thread. I love seeing what sort of niche books people are reading and sometimes get a great Reddit book recommendation out of it (which I’ll get to reading…eventually).
Surfing through Reddit, I noticed that the site is particularly good at diving deeper into social trends and the books associated with them. Unlike TikTok, which only gives you a short video explanation, recommendations from Reddit come with conversations between users about what they liked and disliked about the book. Now, Goodreads is great for this as well, but I’ve found the conversations from Reddit to be more in depth and wide ranging because folks tend to have full conversations and debates with one another.
I will also say that the lack of a star system is helpful. The format of Reddit forces you to at least surf through a thread to get the gist of a book and why you should read it. For example, if you’re curious about reading the social media famous A Court of Thorns and Roses series, just checkout a Reddit thread. To be honest, when I’m on Goodreads, I don’t even bother sometimes to rate a book based on its cover (shocker) but rather how many stars it has. This means that I go into the comments section with preconceived notions about a book. In fact, it’s standard operating procedure for me to filter reviews by star rating first. And because I thrive in chaos, I always, without fail, check out the one-star reviews first. I like to be disappointed.
However, because Reddit doesn’t give me preconceived notions, I’m able to read threads with a clear head and enjoy the repartee between users debating their likes and dislikes about a book as well as debating really specific questions. I mean, if Reddit doesn’t have an answer for me, then I doubt anyone else will.
So I consulted Reddit Reads to figure out any trends in what everyone is interested in. From my research, it seems that the following genres/sub-genres of books are recommended at the highest frequencies:
- Self-help and professional development books
- Beginner software engineering books
- Space operas
- High fantasy
- Books on finding love
- Human behavior and psychology
- Niche nonfiction
Below I’ll break down the best books Reddit recommends for each.
1. Self-Help and Professional Development Books
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Feeling Good by David Burns
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
For self-help books I noticed the likes of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and Feeling Good by David Burns claiming top spots. This makes sense. It’s not only the beginning of the year (for the most part), but the pandemic made everyone revaluate how they want to live their lives. Reclaiming their lifestyle, mental health, and work/life balance are things that everyone spoke about passingly, but even in my own circles, I’ve noticed friends and family taking serious steps to rectify how they live their lives.
As such, it makes sense that books such as The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg are being consistently discussed on Reddit. Now I will say that books such as these are predominantly written by white men, but I have an entire post with recommendations on leadership books by women, so believe me, there are more options out there. That said, I will warn you that controversial books such as No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert Glover are regularly recommended on Reddit, so be sure to conduct your own research as well.
2. Beginner Software Engineering Books
- Introduction to Algorithms by Thomas H. Cormen
- Clean Code by Robert Martin
- Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell
- Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold
Another interesting trend I noted was that coding books were also rather popular. I have to wonder that the popularization and normalization of working from home has played a role here. It’s pretty common for tech companies to allow their employees to work from home or for various other companies to allow their contract or in-house developers to work from home. Considering that the pay is enviable and a successful software engineer doesn’t have to rack up thousands of dollars in student debt, it makes sense that those interested are turning to books.
3. Space Operas
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Science fiction is such a diverse genre, increasingly so in recent years. But it’s classic space operas such as Dune that seem to get a lot of attention on Reddit. I sometimes wonder if a desire to read the “classics” first is what prevents some folks from branching out. I did notice though that Dune, Ender’s Game, and The Martian were all adapted into pretty big movies, so I’m sure that helped them being upvoted.
4. High Fantasy
- The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
- The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
If space operas are popular on Reddit, then it makes perfect sense that high fantasy is right behind it. I imagine that the release of The Rings of Power and The Wheel of Time have played a hand in this. That said, I have to say that the books that are most popular are already popular outside of Reddit. Let’s be honest, how many of us need to be told by Reddit to read The Fellowship of the Ring? But if you need that extra nudge, here it is!
5. Books on Relationships
- Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagasaki
- The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
- Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine
- She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner
I generally rely on TikTok for my relationship advice (mature, I know). But the pandemic really did make a lot of folks rethink their own relationships and how they want to treat their partners, as evidenced by the most popular relationship books on Reddit. Now I didn’t do a deep dive into Reddit threads about relationships, but I can only imagine that a few of these books popped up here and there.
6. Human Behavior and Psychology
- The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness by John Yates, Matthew Immergut, and Jeremy Graves
- Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul T. T. Mason MS and Randi Kreger
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini PhD
Subreddits are perfect for diving into topics that interest you. Some books that are popular on the psychology subreddit have also appeared on the list of most mentioned books on Reddit, which is fascinating. I suppose that while we’ve been socially distancing from each other, we’ve also been trying to learn more about one another?
7. Niche Nonfiction
- Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
- The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt
- The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
I was rather surprised to find such niche nonfiction books being recommended on Reddit. But then again, because Reddit is good for those niche recommendations, this does track. However, it is fascinating that books about dictators and human cadavers are so popular. These books do have excellent ratings and are well regarded by their own niche communities, so perhaps quality speaks for itself?
While these trends are overarching, I do recommend perusing Reddit to see which sort of books people are talking about. Goodreads is great to see what bookish people are talking about, and while those conversations are great, I think it’s important to see what sort of books the rest of world is finding interesting and/or useful. That said, if you’re looking for more tailored book recommendations, check out our TBR service, where our hardworking Bibliologists (including yours truly) tailor book recommendations that get you out of comfort zone (or keep you in it).