2/21/08

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; we may not always agree on books, but I trust her judgment. If she likes a book, I am more likely to give it a chance. I also trust Kathy's opinions on books, especially since she recommended No Angel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Feast of Love. 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?

2 comments:

Maw Books said...

Hi! Found your blog through Google and am liking what you see. I can completely relate to this post! I love shopping for books!!! Nothing better than being surrounded by all the possibilities and finding that one great find (I buy a lot of books secondhand). My TBR list is getting longer and longer! I just entered the blogging world this past fall and I can't believe how many titles I've written down. That's not including the books I have on my own bookshelf!

Chris said...

Thank you for the kind words! I'm a fan of secondhand bookstores, but love My Borders as well. Lately I've gotten through quite a few of my books on my nightstand. Now all I have to do is stop checking out books from the library so I can catch up on my own private stack!