I found a great book recommendation site the other day called Five Books. The concept is very simple. Every day they find some prominent expert and ask them to recommend five books on their topic of choice (usually related to their area of expertise). Topics vary as widely as “Faith in Politics” to “Football” to “Iranian History”. The result is targeted, informed recommendations on important issues.
- Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
- The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer Lytton
- The Crater by James Fenimore Cooper
- The Violins of Saint-Jacques: A Tale of the Antilles by Patrick Leigh Fermor
- The Twenty-one Balloons by William Pène Du Bois
As you can see, sometimes the experts choose academic or rare books that the public library may not carry (#3 and #4 above), but the library usually has enough to at least get you started on most subjects. In addition to just a list of books, the site also includes an interview with the expert so they can explain the reasons behind each of their choices.