Is asking for book recommendations on-topic?

For example, I want to know the best English translation of Yajur Veda done by an Indian author (as opposed to Western authors/translations).

  • 1
    Recommendations for Books should be off topic as it will attract "Opinion Based" answers.
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 19:41
  • @Mr.Alien, such questions are on-topic on other scientific SE sites like Physics and SO. I don't think it will be bad on this one. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 16:06
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    @VineetMenon weird, as we have Primarily Opinion Based option to close, well, its fine, I was not confident about this and hence I didn't answered :)
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 16:10
  • @Bharat can we have an accepted answer please? So that I can take necessary actions on the questions which asks for book recommendation
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 6:17
  • @Mr.Alien I accepted Keshav's answer.
    – Bharat
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 12:52

2 Answers 2


Whether questions about book recommendations should be on topic is somewhat tricky. As @Mr.Allen says, they can invite a opinion-based discussion, since people may have different opinions about what is "best". That doesn't mean that we should necessarily ban it, but there are at least issues to be considered.

In any case, I think what absolutely should be on topic is reference request questions (preferably using a tag). They're part of the core mission of the site, which is a "Q&A site for followers of the Hindu religion and those interested in learning more about Hinduism." So for example, I think a question like "Are there any complete English translations of the Skanda Purana?" should be within the scope of the site. That doesn't require any opinion or discussion, it's just a purely factual matter of what translations exist, not some subjective evaluation of quality. So whether we decide to allow recommendation question, we should certainly allow objective reference-request questions.

Now as to your particular question, about Yajur Veda translations written by Indians, that seems somewhat problematic to me, not because it's outside of the scope of the site, but because some may think that it presupposes certain controversial attitudes about Indian translators vs. non-Indian translators. On the other hand, a question like "Are there any prose translations of the Ramayana" seems fine to me, because prose vs. poetry is a value-neutral criterion that few would object to.

EDIT: If in addition to translation request questions, which I discussed above, we want to allow pure book recommendation questions as well, then I think some guidelines are in order. The OP should specify what exactly they are seeking to learn, and what their level of background knowledge is. That way the thread doesn't turn into a free-for-all where everyone just lists their favorite book.

An example of an ill-formed question is this one; people thought they should just give whatever Shiva-related books they liked, which is why we got an answer with a recommendation like "Immortals of Meluha." And as you can see, since I didn't know how much the OP already knew about Shiva, my answer contained three possible recommendations based on different assumptions about the OP's background. But if the OP had specified, for instance, "I've heard that Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction; where can I learn some basic facts and stories about him", then we would have a clearer idea of what kind of book would be an appropriate recommendation. That way, even if there's some subjectivity about the quality of a particular book, we can at least judge how well it meets the OP's needs.

  • I agree on the controversial nature for asking book written by people of certain nationality. I didn't know how else to put it. When I ask for a book about Hinduism, I don't want to be suggested Wendy Doniger's works or Michael Witzel's works.
    – Bharat
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 20:51
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    @RBK Well, would you be willing to accept translations from Max Mueller or Ralph TH Griffith? I think a better way to narrow things down would be to just ask about Yajur Veda translations in general, and then in your own mind you can weed out the ones you think are problematic. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 21:39
  • I wouldn't accept Max Muller & Griffith too. I'll keep politics out of this ;) and ya I will have to decide in my mind whose works I feel are legitimate.
    – Bharat
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 22:02
  • Yea but lets fix a tag
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 20:21
  • As users want to accept book recommendations questions, can we have some examples from you of what should be on topic and what shouldn't?
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 18:35
  • @Mr.Alien I just edited my answer to discuss this. Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 2:38

We shouldn't.

Reasons -

  • they are opinion based.
  • they can cause dispute
  • they can bring similar category question.

If we go through close vote reason the we can clearly see "opinion based are off topic".

So why to allow question which are obvious "opinion based".

Now we have another version of this kind of question, where user want a translated copy of specific mythological books. Refer this two

Don't worry more coming soon. Then we will have to search for french, Chinese, Japanese and all kind of language version of all Indian mythological books.

So do we want to kill the seed of trouble or we will handle grown up big tree of trouble later.

  • I already commented that it should be off-topic but in a way I feel they should be on topic
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 18:41
  • Refer this question too hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/631/… where we have 4 close vote and 2 upvote Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 18:46
  • That question has my close vote already but for some reason I feel they should be allowed
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 18:48
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    I asked the first question, so I'm somewhat biased, but I think that requests for translations are completely within the scope and mission of the site, since it's a ""Q&A site for followers of the Hindu religion and those interested in learning more about Hinduism.". There may be a case, though, for limiting questions to English translations (and maybe Indian languages too) and not translations in all the languages of the world like French, since this is an English-language site. Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 18:48
  • @KeshavSrinivasan what about new question requesting for french one. Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 18:50
  • By the way, I hope you won't be angry, but before you posted this answer I was in the middle of making a new translation question (and answer), concerning the Padma Purana, since you had asked me for an online link to it. So let me be clear that it's just a coincidence my new translation question will be posted right after you posted this answer. Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 18:56
  • @KeshavSrinivasan hehehehhehe......i am not angry but i just want to remove recommended questions. Obviously it will be not decided by me but by our all Hi.Se community Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 20:33

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