Friday, October 8, 2010

How do you find books?

I am a source of book recommendations for one or two people. One or two people are a source of book recommendations for me. I had barely read anything really good before I went to college (it was mainly Vonnegut, I think maybe a little Chabon by then but I can't remember, China Miéville, Ursula K. LeGuin, that was about it) and in college most of the really good stuff I read was stuff I found on my own, maybe because I liked the cover or something when I saw it at the book store. In fact for a while most of my favorite books were, to be completely honest, comics, because it was much easier for me to find stories that matched my mood and thinking in comics than in books.

In grad school I have found a lot of new things, partly because I've read for Puerto del Sol, partly because of blogs like HTMLGiant, partly because I am Facebook friends with interesting writers who are also interesting readers. I don't read many reviews because I disagree strongly with how most people do it. I'm not sure what I disagree with so strongly; maybe it's more that, like a bad piece of cheese, they disagree with me. I don't believe most of what they say, in part because knowing some of the writers makes me aware of how many of them know each other, and while I tell myself this does not matter when I am writing my iron-jawed laser-precise dissections (wink wink) of books for various review sections, I have trouble believing it doesn't matter while reading the mealy-mouthed, unpersuasive back-patting prose of others. (Which is another way of saying: I am a hypocrite.) I am offered a review copy of something I was interested in anyway, and hey, it's free, and hey, reviews look good on CV's, and so I read it.

Amazon does sometimes guess what I would like to be reading but I resent its sales algorithms for their accuracy and so I do not buy those books.

How do you find your books?


  1. The network of indie lit blogs I've found recently has been great for recommending stuff I'd never have found otherwise.

    Random wandering in the bookstore or library--I have incredible luck with this.

    The Believer's reviews section has generally nudged me down the right path too.

  2. My main two sources are just wandering through the library stacks, and anything neat-sounding mentioned or referred to in another book. I keep a notebook labeled "Books to keep in mind," consisting of cool stuff I found in other books.

    And used bookstores. Used bookstores are so great for finding the weirdest oddball stuff.

    I also find myself reading books about the interests of my friends, usually because they're doing/studying something that I wish I would have.