Benbrook Library / Books

O Good Books, Where Art Thou?

Earlier this week, an old pal directed me to this incredibly nifty chart on Lifehacker:


For those who don’t have the eye of the hagle (hawk and eagle combined) and are having trouble reading it, click here to see a larger version.

If you’re looking for a book to read, I highly suggest giving the chart a try. It’s got a nice mix of classic and contemporary fiction (and a smattering of non-fiction) titles for readers of all types. If the chart doesn’t do it for you, there are, of course, tons of ways to discover new books to read. Here are the ways I typically discover my reading material, with brief discussions of each method’s effectiveness:

-Review journals/vendors – One of the sweet perks of being a quasi-semi-insider in the book world is I find out about upcoming releases before your average Reginald or Regina Reader. When I’m selecting books to purchase for the library, I read through reviews and informational blurbs in various review journals and websites, and that gives me a heads up on all the good stuff that will be hitting shelves in the near future. Usually, I make mental notes about the new books I’d like to read as I discover them while ordering, then I completely forget about them until they actually arrive at the library. At that time, my desire to read them is renewed, but I’m always in the middle of a different book, so I make a new mental note, which is soon forgotten. It’s a vicious, ineffective cycle.

-Recommendations from friends and acquaintances – Finding out about books from friends is definitely a double-edged sword. Ostensibly, your friends know you better than almost anyone, so their recommendations should suit you well, and ideally, they share your impeccable taste. Even if you get lucky and those first two conditions are satisfied, you might have a friend who is so passionate about a book and so adamant that you read it that he or she physically puts a copy in your hands. In situations like these, for me at least, reading the book then becomes an obligation, and even if I truly do want to read it, a portion of the joy is sucked out of the proceedings. I’m sure there are many people out there who love having books given to them by friends unsolicited; maybe most people do, and I’m just weird (I think that’s been established as a distinct probability).

-Recommendations from authors or famous people I respect – These can be pretty hit or miss, especially recommendations that come in the form of blurbs on book jackets. I like to think of my author idols as pillars of integrity, but sometimes I finish a book one of them describes as “the best book evah” or something similarly hyperbolic and am left wondering if there’s some sort of “pay for praise”-type deal going on.

-Seeing movie or TV adaptations – Behind many a great movie or show is an even greater book. I’ve discovered some of my favorite books (The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, the A Song of Ice and Fire series) by first being exposed to the screen adaptation.

-Goodreads – It’s easy to get lost in Goodreads for huge chunks of time, ‘cuz when you go there to view one book, chances are you’ll get sucked down a rabbit hole of links to similar books, “Best Of” lists, genre and subgenre pages, reader reviews, author pages, and more until everything gets all Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon on you and you can’t remember where you started. The only problem with Goodreads is you’ll find almost too much reading goodness, to the point that reading everything you’d like becomes a near impossibility.

-Recommendations from librarians: Librarians spend the majority of their waking lives in libraries surrounded by books, and they’re some of the readingest people you’ll ever meet, so if you’re ever unsure of what to read next, ask one to point you in the right direction.


2 thoughts on “O Good Books, Where Art Thou?

  1. Ooooh cool chart.

    I also get most of my books through recommendations, both in-person and online, but won’t buy anything until I read at least the first few pages–very grateful to the Amazon “look inside” feature for this reason. I no longer trust the term “bestseller” or the star rankings anywhere because I’ve seen terrible books get great reviews and great books get mediocre reviews. The general public and I do not share the same taste 🙂

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