People often ask me, “How do you know what books to read?” That’s a loaded question. How much time do you have?
I read book reviews and also browse bookstore shelves. Amazon.com provides me with a list of recommendations. What’s great about Amazon is that I can rate the novels I have read. Based on my ratings, it will either show me more books like the one I scored or move in a totally different direction. I have never been shy about bringing pen and paper into a bookstore and jotting down titles and authors I find interesting. I feel, though, that I do have to issue a warning: a book that critics love won’t necessarily be one you like.
Indeed, take “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen. It got great reviews, even Oprah was over the moon. But I hated it. That book was utlimately given away to my local library.
I also read book blogs for recommendations. I’ve found “Flashlight Worthy Books.” They recommend books “so good, they’ll keep you up past your bedtime.” It’s true!
The newest blog makes me think I should become a New Yorker. Let’s look at this:
What New Yorkers Read on the Subway
The New York Times — known as “The Newspaper of Record” — strives to be international in its coverage. But it also loves being a hometown paper. Case in point? In the Fall of 2009 they did an informal survey of what people were reading on the subway.
As a New Yorker, I’m happy to say that the 21 most popular books — listed below, from most to least popular — show my fellow subway riders to be quite the literate lot. (Well, with one notable exception; scan the list below and see if you can find it.)
I’d like to talk about some of the ones I’ve read.
“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz. This book captivated me. I remember how lyrical it was and how I still intend to read his “Drown.” Not only was this novel a critic’s dream, but the reading public enjoyed it, too. I am not ashamed to say it made me cry.
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. Stay away from the movie. The book is in a class all by itself. I just read her new book, “Her Fearful Symmetry,” which I thought was even better!
“Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer. I’m embarrassed to say that I did indeed read this book and its sequels. It was a good time!! Having said that, though, I would encourage the adults to read “The Host,” which is very intriguing. If you want to read about vampires and witches (it is almost Halloween, after all), turn to Anne Rice. She is and will always be the Queen of Horror for me.
“2666” by Roberto Bolano. I have never read this book. I know I should. I did enjoy his “The Savage Detectives” and thought it was one of the best books I’d ever read.
“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. This novel is so disturbing. I would read a little and then have to put the book down and do something else. It’s a lot to take in. Yet it’s so beautiful. I am eagerly anticipating the movie that is set for American release on November 25. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve pushed the release date back.
“Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen” by Julie Powell. This book disappointed me. It starts out so great but toward the end, I felt it went down-hill. I recommend “Gourmet Rhapsody” by Muriel Barbery instead. No offense to Powell or to Child intended.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson. All I can say is wow! If you have not read this book, you are depriving yourself. No, I have not yet read the sequel. But it is on my bookshelf waiting for me.
“Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia” by Elizabeth Gilbert. This books is being made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. Everyone should read this book. Not only does the author go on a voyage to self-discovery, but you will go with her.
I thank “Flashlight Worthy Books” for posting this list. I can take the books on this list I’ve not read and try them out. We seem to have similar tastes in books. That, my friends and fellow book lovers, is how you find the perfect book or just the one to read next.