Build a Summer Reading List using ChatGPT

Codecademy Team
Understand iterative prompting and apply its principles to create a summer reading list using ChatGPT.

Getting Started

In the summer, nothing beats relaxing with a good book. But finding a perfect summer read can be daunting so why not get some assistance? A perfect candidate for this task is ChatGPT! ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence technology that people can use for tasks from generating recipes to coding projects, and everything in between. Did you know ChatGPT can be your secret weapon for crafting a personalized summer reading list? Let’s dive into the best practices to generate the perfect reading list for your summer.

Interacting with Gen AI

ChatGPT is best used to get feedback on our work. This may include proofreading, summarization, etc. When using ChatGPT, the most crucial step is ensuring that the prompt yields the desired results. Here is where the concept of Prompt Engineering comes in. Prompt engineering is the skill of interacting with an AI to use it effectively. In prompt engineering, we use iterative prompting, giving the AI a starting prompt. Based on its response, we may send another prompt if the current result does not meet our needs. We repeat this cycle until we receive the desired output.

When employing iterative prompting, it is essential to adhere to the following principles to streamline the prompting process:

Start small and tweak as you go: Begin with a basic prompt that sets the context for ChatGPT. This tells the AI what set of training data to draw a response from. The response you get from this prompt is your base to build and refine your prompt further.

Be specific and clear: Your prompts must be to the point and detailed. The best way to do this includes:

  • Use delimiters to structure your prompts
  • Avoid giving conflicting instructions
  • Specify the output format you expect

Give the model time to think: If the LLM does not perform the task the way you expect, you can refine your prompt by breaking down the task into smaller chunks. This gives the model more time on each step and makes it more likely for the output to be aligned with your needs.

Now you know how to iterate on prompts to unlock the full potential of the AI model. In the next section, you will apply these techniques to create a summer reading list for yourself.

Create a Summer Reading List using Iterative Prompting

Let’s create a summer reading list using ChatGPT

Step 1 - Start small

We begin with a prompt that simply explains the task at hand. Usually, this first prompt has a broad idea.


Create a summer reading list for me 


Certainly! Here's a diverse summer reading list encompassing various genres and themes: 


"Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens: A mesmerizing tale of mystery, romance, and the beauty of nature. 

"The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern: A magical story set in a mysterious circus that appears without warning. 

"Circe" by Madeline Miller: A retelling of Greek mythology from the perspective of the enchantress Circe. 

Science Fiction/Fantasy: 

"Dune" by Frank Herbert: A sweeping epic set in a distant future where politics, religion, and ecology collide. 

"Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel: A post-apocalyptic novel that explores the resilience of humanity through interconnected lives. 

"The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue" by V.E. Schwab: A tale of a woman cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets until she meets someone who remembers her. 


Remember to enjoy your reading journey and explore new worlds through these books! 

Though this prompt resulted in book recommendations, ChatGPT provided too many recommendations from various genres.

Step 2 - Tweak as you go

The first prompt results in too many book recommendations. Let’s refine the prompt to give us our desired number of books - 5.


Create a summer reading list for me with 5 books 


Absolutely! Here's a diverse summer reading list for you: 

"Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens: A mesmerizing novel set in the marshes of North Carolina, blending mystery, romance, and coming-of-age themes. Perfect for immersing yourself in the natural world during summer. 

"Circe" by Madeline Miller: This reimagining of the story of Circe, the Greek goddess of magic, is both enchanting and empowering. Miller's prose is lyrical and immersive, making it a great pick for lazy summer afternoons. 

"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller: Another gem by Madeline Miller, this novel explores the epic love story between Achilles and Patroclus against the backdrop of the Trojan War. It's beautifully written and will transport you to ancient Greece. 

"Educated" by Tara Westover: A gripping memoir that tells the story of Tara Westover's journey from growing up in a strict and isolated survivalist family to eventually earning a PhD from Cambridge University. It's a powerful and thought-provoking read that you won't be able to put down. 

"The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern: Step into a world of enchantment and wonder with this atmospheric tale of a mysterious circus that only appears at night. Morgenstern's prose is rich and vivid, making it the perfect escape for a summer evening. 

These books offer a mix of genres and themes, ensuring there's something for every mood and preference. Enjoy your summer reading adventure! 

Now, we have just the right number of books for our summer reading list. But these books aren’t aligned with our interests.

Step 3 - Be specific and clear

Our prompts can be further refined to make the summer reading list more aligned with our preferences. One way to do this is by asking ChatGPT to create a questionnaire and based on our answers, suggest books.


I want to create a summer reading list tailored to my interests. 

Create 5 questions to help gauge my interests. Ask me those questions one at a time and based on my answers generate a summer reading list with 5 books. 


Great! Let's start with the questions to gauge your interests: 

What are some of your favorite genres to read? 

Do you prefer books with strong character development or intricate plot twists? 

Are you interested in exploring new cultures or historical periods through your reading? 

Do you enjoy reading books that provoke philosophical or existential questions? 

Are you open to trying out different formats such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or graphic novels? 

Once you've answered these questions, I'll use your responses to generate a personalized summer reading list for you. Let's begin with the first question: What are some of your favorite genres to read? 

Step 4 – Structure the Prompt

We have our questionnaire, but the questions are directly about book genres. Let’s break down the task such that the questions are general and unrelated to books.


I want to create a summer reading list tailored to my interests. Follow the Steps delimited by single backticks to help me do so.  


1. Create 5 questions to help gauge my interests  
2. The questions should not be about reading preferences  
3. Ask me these questions one at a time and based on my answers create a summer reading list with the 5 most recent books. 


Got it! Let's proceed with step-by-step customization: 

Step 1: Create 5 questions to help gauge your interests. 

What are your top three hobbies or interests outside of reading? 

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why? 

What's something you've always wanted to learn more about? 

What's a recent movie, TV show, or podcast you enjoyed? 

If you could meet any historical figure or living celebrity, who would it be and what would you talk about?

Let's begin with question 1: What are your top three hobbies or interests outside of reading?

This prompt resulted in more generalized questions and as a bonus, ChatGPT asked the generated questions one at a time, which is perfect. In answering these questions, the following reading list was generated:


Based on your responses, here's a tailored summer reading list for you: 

"The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets" by Eva Rice - A charming novel set in post-World War II England, exploring friendship, secrets, and unexpected connections.

"The Intern" by Gabrielle Tozer - A YA novel following the story of a young journalist interning at a fashion magazine, reminiscent of "The Devil Wears Prada."

"The Breakup Bible" by Melissa Kantor - A young adult novel that navigates the complexities of heartbreak and self-discovery.

"Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom" by John O'Donohue - Drawing from Irish spiritual traditions, this book explores themes of friendship, love, and connection.

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho - A timeless tale about following your dreams and finding your true destiny, perfect for reflection after life changes like internships and breakups.

These books should offer a blend of engaging stories, psychological insights, and reflective themes that align with your interests and recent experiences. Enjoy your summer reading! 

And voila! We have generated a Summer Reading List that matches our interests using iterative prompting principles. We focused on starting with broad prompts and refining them based on the results. The importance of using clear and specific prompts to get the desired outcome was also discussed.

The same approach can be used to brainstorm innovative business ideas, generate creative content, or even conduct in-depth research. By learning to “speak” to ChatGPT effectively, you unlock its true potential as a thought partner and knowledge facilitator. So, the next time you have a question, a project, or simply a curious mind, remember the power of crafting the perfect prompt.

To learn more ways of using ChatGPT or Generative AI check out our AI Articles.