DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Jul 30 2010

ShareReads: Try It, You’ll Like It

by Lesley B

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

How do you decide you want to read a book? What is more likely to inspire you to try a book – someone else’s recommendation or a written review?  I used to rely almost exclusively on written reviews and I rarely followed up when someone told me how much they loved a book. That’s not to say my taste in reading is so lofty or refined. There are a lot of classics I’ve never gotten around to and I read a lot of what my old English teacher would call “junk”. However, I was a bit of a bestseller snob. If a book was popular with many, many people, I was less likely to read it and more likely to suspect it wasn’t very good.

At some point I realized I was in a reading rut. Sure, the Internet made it much easier for me to find reviews from people who liked the sort of books I liked.  (Put a list of your favorite authors into Google and see what comes up.  Any new names that pop up on similar lists are automatically writers to check out.)  It made it too easy. It felt like I was eating the same thing for dinner every night.

So I got over myself and tried something new to find my next book. When someone recommended a book and I felt that old impulse to reject their recommendation, I jotted down the title and read it.  Sometimes it doesn’t work, but more often I’ve liked the book. Taking other people’s suggestions, I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett (more humor and nuance than I expected), A Sudden, Fearful Death, one of Anne Perry’s Victorian murder mysteries (I enjoyed all the background information about hospitals in that era), My Life in France, Julia Child’s autobiography (her enthusiasm and determination are inspiring) and Emily Giffin’s Love the One You’re With (I assumed it was typical chick lit, but her characters are more thoughtful and real). The book club I joined did me a real favor by picking Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. I don’t know that I ever would have gotten around to reading this book otherwise and what I would have missed by not knowing the story of Janie and Tea Cake.

Try putting those author’s names into Google together and you get nothing; so if you are one of the people who suggested a book to me – thanks! And what have you been reading lately? Have you read books that surprised you? How do you usually find out about books? Do you use the bestseller lists? Share Reads is for sharing books, but I’m also curious about how someone decides to open that book up in the first place.