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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Question for Readers: How did you find your favorite books?

We all know there are too many books for any one person to read each year (except for Larry Nolen, who reads about nine books a second and shoots laser beams from his eyes), but one thing that I don't think we talk about enough is how we discover the books that we read.

So, I'm going to throw some questions out to you, the readers:
  • How did you find your favorite books?
  • What process do you use to find new books?
  • How do you know if a book you've discovered is a book you're going to buy?  Is it the cover?  The back cover text?  The secret code words on the first page used by publishers to send subliminal messages to their assassins?
Tell me!  I really want to know.

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  1. My favorite book ever I found while emptying the book drop when I worked at the library. I usually pick my books based on recommendations by friends and the like, but every now and again I'll just go to the B&N and pick an author I've never heard of before. I buy books all the time because they have wicked covers too.

  2. My husband has introduced me to most of my favorite books, at least the sci-fi/fantasy ones. Some I found at the now defunct annual Goodwill book sale. I'd listen around the sci-fi table to see what people were talking about and pick it up if I could find it( I have a couple of kids to thank for introducing me to Zelazny). Now I haunt the thrift stores. These habits tend to keep me reading mostly older stuff. I'll sometimes take a chance on something shiny and new from the bookstore, but I haven't found any favorites that way. If I am buying new, the cover and the description are what I use to make my decision.

  3. I look through syllabi from all over the country to find theory/philosophy books that I'm interested in, and I take customer recommendations very seriously while I'm at work (unless it's a 13 y/o girl).

  4. I've found a good many thanks to recommendations by friends. But often I just find them by looking. And I only sometimes pay attention to online reviews or recommendations (mostly for books in a very specific niche) especially because I often can't find those books.

    These days I don't buy many books because I'm trying to save money, but when I did buy them more often, I would look at spines/covers until one caught my eye, read the back, and if it still sounded good I would read the first few pages and flip through it to try to get a sense of the author's style. If I felt compelled to read more, that's when I would be sure to buy it.

    These days I get most of my books from the library, so my limit is basically the number I can carry (or reasonably expect to read before the next time I drop by). Therefore, my standards are lower, which occasionally results in good things (especially in categories I don't usually read), but just as often means I read something mediocre.

  5. My FAVORITE book was a gift from my father when I was 8, but that's not what you're really after.

    I generally find books through a couple of methods... If I am currently interested in a topic I will find books that relate to that topic until I'm done with that topic (for the time being). I also tend to read books by authors that I've enjoyed in the past. I find those authors on recommendations from either you or my dad or some other trusted source. My method of last resort is to find books with a cool cover and/or interesting title and then read the book jacket - if it sounds interesting, I go for it.

  6. Adam: And what was this book? Hmm? You just left it all wide open, Mr.!

    fiorinda: I used to haunt the thrift stores too, but then I moved to Florida and the town I'm has a poor selection for books. Most of the thrift stores carry nothing but romance novels and classics (most of which I already own...the classics, not the romance novels). When I lived in Santa Cruz, though, I would find all sorts of stuff in thrift stores!

    Afif: You sift through syllabi? Wow.

    Thryn: A lot of folks have said "recommendations." I find that I'm completely the opposite, primarily because I don't like hype, and usually my friends recommend things through hype-o-rants.

    Loopdilous: And I take it that was Neverending Story, yes? And why haven't you read William Horwood or Jeff VanderMeer yet, then? Hmm?

  7. I prefer to find them by perusing a brick and mortar store or a library. As I now live in the back of beyond and the local bookstore has a small selection, I am forced to feed teh book addiction by shopping online at amazon or b&n.

    There is no better way for me to get a feel for a book that 1) reading the title; 2) reading the backmatter; 3) reading the inside page; and 4) reading the first page or two or three. Bonus if I actually like the title or cover before I do any of these things.

    I cannot help it, I am biased towards reading a book that has a title and cover that I find appealing.

    On line, I generally get an idea based on reviews. I am disappointed far more than I would be if shopping for a book in person. On the other hand, I wouldn't have found or known about a lot of these books I buy (and would therefore have missed out on some excellent reads!) had I not checked out the things like "other people who bought also bought" and recommendations by the site.

    Long answer. Sorry.

  8. Santa Cruz has some excellent used bookstores, or used to when I lived there. San Francisco and Berkeley/Oakland were even better. I do miss good used stores.

  9. writtenwyrdd: Santa Cruz still has Logos, Bookshop Santa Cruz, and Capitola Book Cafe :). San Fran still has Borderlands, which is an SF/F/H specific store. All those stores are awesome!

    I'm with you, though. I miss good used bookstores too :(.

  10. I have a few favourites, but the most interesting story is how I stumbled across Dave Duncan's A Man of His Word. I was browsing in my usual place for cool new fantasy: Minotaur books in Melbourne and I saw this amazing cover. Don Maitz's totally incredible cover for Magic Casement. I literally fell in love with his depiction of Inosolan on that cover and bought the book. The contents lived up to the cover.

    Having said that I rarely ever buy books because of the cover. Most times I've heard of it somewhere on the 'net. If I haven't I pick it up, scan the blurb on the back and then read a few pages. If it can hook me then I'll buy it. Occasionally I get lucky and someone posts a review that really interests me and if I can find the book I'll read them and find out that the reviewer was right.

  11. Elfy: Good covers really are hard to come by, though. :P

    Thanks for the comment.