In general, any way you can unite 5 books around a topic, theme, or mood is fantastic!
The key is that the topic or theme you choose targets readers who are a perfect match for your book.
Because that drastically increases the chance that a reader will also get interested in your book and buy it.
For example, if Bob makes a book list called "the best books about cooking pie on Sundays", but the book he features next to that list is a history of the Roman Legions, it is highly unlikely he will sell any copies. If, instead, Bob creates a book list called "the best books on the highs and lows of Roman history," then his book is a great match for that topic, and it will sell.
A book list can include non-fiction, fiction, children's, or YA books. It is totally up to you and is about your favorites. The books can be out of print as well (this is about your favorites, not if a book is available).
The key is to bring your personality and/or expertise to the title.
Why? The title is what we use to attract readers to your book list from different parts of Shepherd.com.
Examples of topic-focused book recommendation lists.
Many authors choose a straightforward topic that is close to their book; this is a great strategy. We want to make sure the title also reflects your personality and expertise in some way.
Here are some examples:
- The best books to understand Abraham Lincoln as a man and leader
- The best novels about World War 2 from unique perspectives
- The best books on World War 1 from a military historian
- The best books to understand the world in the 1800s
- The best books on the aftermath of World War 2
- The best books to understand the horror of trench warfare in WW1
- The best books on plagues, disease, and the people who fight them
- The best books for people who want to be doctors
- The best historical fiction about WW1 and the in-between period
- The best science fiction from the last 10 years (from a futurist)
- The best fiction about the incredible bond between mother and daughter
- The best group biographies that read like novels
- The best children's books to help teach kindness and empathy
- The best books on Afghanistan and life in the land of the Taliban
These are generally very straightforward. And, we do recommend you add your voice/personality to the title (more on that below).
For fiction authors, in addition to the above, you can do things like:
- The best fantasy books with no dragons, monsters, or orcs
- The best fantasy books about long quests, dark days, and hope
- The best mystery books where you can never guess the ending
- The best historical fiction books that feel like time travel to Ancient Rome
- The best historical romance books set in the United Kingdom
- The best psychological thrillers that will make you think
These types of lists are usually about a specific grouping of books.
Examples of theme or mood focused book recommendation lists.
Theme and mood lists have a much wider range. And, they can be a lot more personality and give you more latitude about the subject.
They can be things like:
- The best books on why the French seem to be in denial about their own history
- The best books that capture the magic of Galicia Spain
- The best horror books for a long night in a dark cabin in the woods
- The best romance books for a hot read on a beautiful beach
- The best thrillers that will keep your heart pounding
- The best books for imagining life after an apocalypse
- The best books evoking the spirit of the British countryside
Add your voice/personality to the title of your book recommendation.
The title should be fun and attract readers. We use this title throughout the website to pull readers toward your list. So, it is a little bit of marketing, and if you can expose your voice that is very popular with readers. Here are some good examples from the website:
- The best books to manage bloody depression
- The best cookbooks for armchair travelers
- The best fantasy books that give me the giggles
- The best books on why being an entrepreneur is so much fun
- The best books about broken and struggling heroes
What doesn't work?
One of the things that does not work is if you make the title of the list not about a topic, theme, or mood. For example:
- The best books that inspired me (this is just too general and it needs to be a mood, topic, or theme)
- The best books that inspired me to be a writer (too general)
- The best science fiction books that inspired me to write sci-fi (too general)
Need help? Email me :)
I am happy to help with some ideas and suggestions; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to pull what people are looking for and help you craft something that gets you and your book in front of the perfect readers.