In the US alone, more than three hundred thousand books were published in 2013, according to Wikipedia.
Back in 2010, Google estimated that at least 129 million books had been published worldwide.
So, obviously, finding the one you will really love isn’t easy, is it?
In recent years, Amazon and Book Bub and social media have helped a lot. Amazon, particularly, has grown eerily accurate about its “featured recommendations” based on my browsing/buying history.
They recently suggested that a woman who reads as many mysteries as I do might like The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery, by Alan Bradley. I sampled it, bought it, and wow. I really, really do. 🙂
But I still find a lot of my favorite books the old fashioned ways, the ways I used back before the great I(nternet) in the Sky began reading over my shoulder. Here are my favorite ways:
- Recommendations from friends. I have lots of reader/writer friends, but there are a select few whose advice I trust absolutely. We’re not clones, of course, and we’ll occasionally disagree. But they know me well enough to know when a book is right for me, and when it’s not. My favorite recent find this way: Where Have You Gone, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple, which was suggested by my writer friend Susan Blexrud.
- Browsing bookstores. Nothing is more exciting than pulling out a book you’ve never heard of, leafing through it, and then deciding to take a chance and spend your precious gift certificate on it. When I was seventeen, I stumbled on Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence that way, and what a life-changer that was! To this day I sort of feel maternal toward this early-Twentieth Century author, as if I single-handedly discovered her. My favorite find this way: Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, which I found in a Tallahassee Barnes & Noble one weekend when I was visiting Girlchild at college. The next year of my life was consumed by reading the entire, difficult, marvelous series.
- Listening to the radio. I love when NPR interviews authors and I adore their Morning Edition book club, where smart people hash over books chosen by well-known authors. My favorite recent find this way: Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness and Family Secrets. I may never look at my doctor the same way, but it was absolutely fascinating!
- Stumbling on a lead while I do research for my own books. Writers spend a lot of time scrambling down rabbit holes on the Internet, checking out a particular character’s career, or location, home, hobby, or neurosis. One site leads to another, and sometimes, when we’re lucky, we’ll encounter something we want explore further. My favorite recent find this way: Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. (Cool fringe benefit…to double-check the title, I Googled the book tonight, and I discovered that a movie version is in the works! Can’t wait!)
So how do you decide which of those 129 million books to read? I’d love to hear what works for you. I’ll be giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so if you share your favorite methods you might end up being able to chip away at that Wish List! 😉