Saturday, February 19, 2011

How Do You "Shop" for Books?

This morning, as I perused the book section of the local newspaper, I wondered how other people find books to read.

Me, I troll constantly for books. I feel a little like a shark. Seeking books to read is as natural to me as breathing. It's not that I don't have enough to read, for heaven's sake. Even after my moratorium, my nightstand creaks under the weight of the pending book pile. We won't even mention the "vertical" stacks in my den (one of which nearly beaned a cat last weekend).

I just love books. I love the news stories about them, the adventure of seeking them, the thrill of encountering a new gem. I love the feel of books, turning them over in my hand as I ponder them, reading the dust jacket blurbs, wondering just how accurate the reviews are. (I mean, one doesn't expect to read "Ick!" on a dust jacket, does one?)

The thrill is as much in the hunt as in the actual discovery. I check out book reviews, book news, book and literature blogs, author interviews. I check out list of award-winning books. I look at paragraph-long reviews in The New Yorker. Sometimes book discoveries aren't anywhere near the arts and literature section. When that new television show is based on a book (only the show's writers disavow hearing about that suspiciously familiar storyline), the story can be in the Regional or Metro section of the paper.

Nearly every day I find a new gem: a new book, an interesting new author, a tidbit about a dead author.

I also keep a list of books in my organizer. More often than not, I'll recognize a title buried in the sports section of the thrift store book section and hold in my hands that bio on cousins (tsars, emperors and kings) that started World War I. My list is ever-growing and, frankly, it's terribly long. I started to have to annotate it with when I read it and, if I didn't finish it, why. However, I will continue to add to the list (and update Terry Pratchett's book list, which ends with books set to be published in 2006, shame on me).

Most importantly, I listen to people whose opinion on books I respect. Carole is my go-to person on books; if she likes a book, I am more likely to give it a chance ( which I did with Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and Olive Kitteridge, to name a couple). I trust Kathy's opinions on books, especially since she recommended No AngelLittle Bee and One Day. I also trust Lois, whose recommendation of The Red Tent compelled me to give it the college try it deserved and whose comments on Heart-Shaped Box prompted me to keep my Reading Buddy close.

How do you determine what books to read? Where do you look? Whose opinions do you trust?  Tell me: comment below or drop me a line!

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