How do you find great books to read? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 10-15-2010, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I recently rediscovered my love of reading, since DS is a little more independent now, and he hates it when I get on the computer, so I read instead! How do you find great reads? I have found I think I prefer series, and I've found some good ones that are currently being written, or recently written, but I'm OK reading some older stuff, which I'm sure is out there, but not sure how to find it.... I use Amazon to get recommendations of books, but that's only newer stuff. How do you find good books?

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#2 of 14 Old 10-15-2010, 01:57 PM
 
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A few different places:

1. The weekly Book Reviews in the newspaper

2. Scanning fora like this one

3. Word of Mouth with friends - including a great librarian who is always in the know!

4. Book blogs and social networking sites devoted to books. The old Readerville site was a goldmine, I haven't found anything as good since it expired. I've been checking out GoodReads and Shelfari occasionally, but somehow I haven't connected with either of them in the same way. Honestly, I haven't joined any site yet, because I haven't figured out which one I should put my time and energy into....I'm debating between GoodReads and Librarything, and leaning toward GoodReads.

5. The library - I always check the "Best Bets" shelf and I often just scan the shelves for interesting looking reads.

6. Book awards - long lists, short lists and winners for awards. I like looking internationally, so I check out quite a few: the (U.K. based, but awarded to Commonwealth writers) Man Booker, the Orange, the Pulitzer, the (U.S.) National Book Awards, the Nobel, the Australian Miles Franklin, the Canadian Governor Generals and the Giller, etc. as well as a fair number of children's awards (Carnegie, Guardian, Costa/Whitbread, Newbery, Printz etc.) and a few genre awards (Hugo (science fiction), Dagger (crime), Edgars (crime) etc.). Those are just a few of the awards out there and they are a goldmine for good writing. There are similar lists for non-fiction, if that is your preference.

If you go to the award sites, they usually provide historic lists of nominees, and many go back 50 or more years, so there is always something to consider.

7. Booksellers - knowledgeable ones, at least. That usually means independents, but some large chains are better than others at hiring knowledgeable sales staff. If you are lucky enough to have a Kinokuniya nearby, I always found their staff to be very good.
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#3 of 14 Old 10-15-2010, 02:31 PM
 
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Missed a few suggestions:

8. Arts shows on public radio - there are often interviews with authors and they usually read a little from their work. These days, you can find podcasts if you can't tune in during the broadcast.

9. Author series and festivals. Our community arts organization hosts a terrific author series every winter. One night a month, at a local small venue, an author is interviewed and there is a reading. I've also attended annual festivals hosted in our city. It's a great way to meet other people who are passionate about literature. If there aren't any such events near you, you can probably google some festivals and at least get suggestions of authors and books to check out.
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#4 of 14 Old 10-15-2010, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great suggestions, thanks! I've been looking at book award lists, but only liked 1 in 10 of the books listed. Now if only DS would let me use the computer long enough to dig deeper!

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#5 of 14 Old 10-16-2010, 10:17 AM
 
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I love my Amazon recommendations page, I always check out the "New Arrivals" shelf at my library and -- of course! -- the book-lovin' friends in my book club!
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#6 of 14 Old 10-18-2010, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've found that most of the books I REALLY like have a long wait at the library, so they aren't on the new arrivals shelf. I've found most of those using Amazon's recommendations, then placing a hold at the library. I'm trying to figure out a good way to find books that were this popular a few years ago, so they're readily available at the library. Plus, if it's a series, the series may be complete if it's a few years old.

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#7 of 14 Old 10-18-2010, 11:03 PM
 
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Goodreads.com - lots of user groups for different genres.

I used to surf Amazon, B and N, Chapters/Indigo sites, as well as bestseller lists.

Sometimes serendipity happens and I pick a random thing up at the library
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#8 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 02:12 AM
 
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Add me on Goodreads! My username is SockMonkeysScareMe

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#9 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 02:19 AM
 
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A few days ago I asked for recommendations on my Facebook. I'm only 100 pages into the first recommendation, so I don't yet know if that's a way to find *great* books....

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#10 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 10:51 AM
 
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I find a lot of books on Goodreads, too. It might take a little time to get settled in there, but once you do, you can find reviewers with similar tastes, and go with their recommendations. I also get recommendations from friends at work, and watch the CS Monitor's book page (although, while I'm glad I've read the books I picked up based on their reviews, I haven't always liked them very much - does that make sense?)
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#11 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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Book reviews, and I trade books with friends/relatives who have similar tastes. I also post on a couple of fora where the other readers have tastes like mine. I'm a picky reader, and a lot of books that might be popular aren't going to do it for me.

Heck, if you describe the books you have especially liked, I bet you could get recommendations right here!
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#12 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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I find classics have a really high awesome-to-meh ratio (as you'd expect, really), so if I really want a GOOD book I head for something I've heard of but haven't gotten around to reading yet. It's harder to run out of classics than you'd think.

Other than that, I just browse the library and pick up what looks interesting. Often things I've heard friends recommend - occasionally on MDC, although I recently read a few clunkers recommended here, so you never know! - or books that were made into movies that showed at the arthouse cinema where I used to work. Or even just "I've heard of that author but I don't know where", or - as a recent rash development - books that have catchy titles or interesting synopses.

I don't know that many contemporary authors, so just diving in was an attempt to get over my snobbish no-modern-writers-are-really-great thing. I've found plenty of unspectacular books that way, but it doesn't matter hugely because I have a lot of spare time at the moment (well, morning sicknessy lying-down-is-my-only-option time, at least) and I read really fast. So if I get through one lame Helen Fielding knockoff chick lit book and a pretty interesting non-fiction book one day, and then a fairly well-written Angela's Ashes-type Irish childhood book the next day, and then finally come across a book of really quirky short stories... well, it's better than watching the telly.

Anyway, looking for specific books at my library is frustrating. Either they don't have 'em at all, or they're out. It's less pesky just to wander the aisles going "Oh yeah, David Sedaris, someone on MDC recommended him... hey, wasn't Anne Perry the girl from Heavenly Creatures?... oh yeah, Evelyn Waugh, I forgot about him... hmm, I wonder if I could read a Stephen King these days without freaking out..." until the pram's full.

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#13 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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I subscribe to Bookmarks Magazine. It comes out every two months and is packed with reviews. I read it and circle what looks good, then put them on hold at the library.

http://www.bookmarksmagazine.com/
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#14 of 14 Old 10-19-2010, 06:58 PM
 
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BookPage - it's at the library. I think they have an online version too. I've found lots of great books in there.

Displays at the library

Friend, word of mouth

Asking on Facebook is a great way to find some new titles

Mama to three

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