Friday, February 18, 2011

Finding Books

A reader today left a comment asking how do I pick out the books I decide to read. That is such a good question I think it deserves its own post.

I have dozens of sources for promising titles and I am always on the lookout for more. I am not usually a fan of traditional best sellers, so I have a lot of different places where I look for books that pique my interest. I am pretty picky and, I will admit, pretty snobby about what I read. My taste runs to good stories with some kind a twist, especially English mysteries, and they have to be artfully written. I also love biographies, memoirs and history.  It is fun to read older books, written in the 20's, 30's and 40's.  I love that time period and I feel reading those books is a window into that time.

The Best of All    

My absolute favorite and prime source for finding great books is the New York Times Book Review,  which I have been reading practically since I was old enough to read. I do not remember who first showed me the section, someone had to have, I don’t think I was independently reading the Times when I was seven, but every week there were at least two pages of reviews of children’s books that I poured over. When I was old enough to write them down and make lists, I would note the ones that appealed to me and take it on my next visit to the library. Of course, most of them were so new the library didn’t have them yet, so I would just bide my time.

Twice a year, in the Spring and in the Fall, I would wait for the thick, special edition of the Book Review that featured children’s books. All those gorgeously illustrated picture books, all those promising new stories! That always resulted in a long list.

I still get excited by the Book Review. I know, it’s sad. But every issue holds at least one book that I know I want to read and usually there is more. A new book! What could be more exciting!

Other sources for ideas and good books:

• I have read many books after they have been dramatized, such as Poldark and The Jewel in the Crown. I really like to read the original book when I’ve seen a good movie.

• If I like an author I always look for other books by them. Sometimes I am disappointed, but most of the time I am not. I have read everything by Winston Graham, for example, the author of the Poldark series. He wrote many other novels, not all historical, he is simply a great story teller and a wonderful writer.

• Friends are a good source of recommendations too. Most of the time you have enough in common with your friends that your taste in reading is similar. Often that is how I have met my friends, who were mere acquaintances until we discover we loved the same writers.

• These days, Amazon is a way of exploring new titles, although I take their reviews with a grain of salt. But I have found some interesting books there.

• Since I like mysteries, I look for new titles on sites that review mysteries, such as and Those are really great sites.

• Just browsing in the bookstore and library is also where I have found books I have really liked. First it is the art work that catches my eye, then the title and then the blurb describing the book itself.

Those are just a few thoughts, but the Book Review definitely is the top resource.

Thanks for a great question, Cube!

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cube said...

I thought I heard my name ;-)

BTW good answer.

Marie said...

Hey Cube, thanks!! You inspired it. :) I hope it gave you some good leads.

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