I used ChatGPT to Pick my Next Read

It is amazing.

Ashwini Sriram
4 min readFeb 1, 2024
Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

Prompt: “You are a librarian at Oxford. I really like the book, Book of Delights by Ross Gay. Suggest similar books and tell me why you suggested them.”

I am not really sure why I said, ‘librarian at Oxford’. I guess it seemed to fit my idea of a serious librarian.


“I’m glad you enjoyed ‘Book of Delights’ by Ross Gay. Here are a few similar books that you might enjoy:

1. “The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New” by Annie Dillard: This book, like Gay’s, is a collection of essays that explore the beauty and complexity of the world around us. Dillard’s keen observations and poetic language make this a delightful read.

2. “A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You” by Donna Cameron: This book shares the author’s experiences and insights from a year of living as kindly as possible. It’s a thoughtful exploration of how small acts can make a big difference, much like Gay’s reflections on finding delight in everyday moments.

3. “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu: This book captures a week-long discussion between the two spiritual leaders about how to find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering. It shares the same spirit of finding delight and joy in unexpected places.

4. “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer: This book is a collection of essays about nature, culture, and the author’s experiences as an indigenous scientist. Like Gay’s work, it’s a deeply personal and reflective book that finds beauty and wisdom in the natural world.

5. “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere” by Pico Iyer: This book explores the idea of stillness and taking time to be present in our fast-paced world. Like “Book of Delights”, it encourages readers to slow down and appreciate the world around them.

These books are suggested because they share Ross Gay’s focus on finding joy, beauty, and wisdom in everyday life. They’re all thoughtful, reflective works that encourage readers to see the world in new ways.”

Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

I then encouragingly said:

“I like all these books! Predict which authors I will like, and recommend 5 authors whose works I will enjoy.”

ChatGPT suggested authors, some of whom I already love. I felt encouraged.

I’m glad you liked the book suggestions! Based on your interest in Ross Gay and the other authors mentioned, here are five authors whose works you might enjoy:

Mary Oliver: Known for her beautiful and insightful poetry about nature and spirituality, Oliver’s works often encourage readers to find joy and wonder in the world around them. Her collection “Devotions” is a great place to start.

David Sedaris: If you enjoy essays with a blend of humor, wit, and keen observation, Sedaris might be a good fit. His books like “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and “Calypso” are both hilarious and thought-provoking.

Naomi Shihab Nye: A poet and essayist, Nye’s works often explore themes of cultural identity, home, and the beauty of everyday life. Her collection “Honeybee” is a delightful read.

Bill Bryson: Known for his travelogues, Bryson’s books are filled with humor, interesting facts, and keen observations about the world. “A Walk in the Woods” or “Notes from a Small Island” could be a good start.

Cheryl Strayed: If you enjoy reflective and personal essays, you might like Strayed’s work. Her book “Wild” is a powerful memoir about self-discovery, and “Tiny Beautiful Things” is a collection of her advice columns that’s both heartfelt and wise.

These authors were chosen because they share similar themes with Ross Gay and the other authors you’ve enjoyed — they all have a keen eye for detail, a deep appreciation for the world around them, and a talent for finding beauty and wisdom in everyday life.

I hadn’t heard of Naomi Shihab Nye, but I just picked up ‘Honeybee’ and am excited to read it. I already love Mary Oliver, Bill Bryson, and Cheryl Strayed.

Overall, I have loved using ChatGPT for book recommendations, and think it does a pretty good job of recommending obscure books that I’d have missed otherwise. No NYT Bestseller list knows your personal taste (yet), and generative AI can fill in the gaps here.



Ashwini Sriram

Technology leader from Chennai living and writing in San Francisco.