Back before the internet, there were libraries and bookstores. There were certain authors I would always buy if they had published something new, but for the most part, I figured out what to read based on reading jacket flaps in a bookshop, or because of something I overheard or a friend's rec. Choosing a book because of a cool cover illustration was not unheard of.
Now there are more online ways to
Podcasts are great. I just enjoy listening to people talk about books. I have three that I listen to devotedly-- So Many Damn Books, The Front Porch, and I've told you before about What Should I Read Next-- and half a dozen more that I listen to occasionally (Reading Glasses, Currently Reading, etc.).
So Many Damn Books is two guys, Christopher and Drew, in NYC, I think in Brooklyn (although I'm always a little fuzzy on the boroughs having only been there twice). They love to read, and even though they're the age of my daughter, I love listening to them talk. If I were their age, I think Christopher would be practically my reading twin. On a recent episode, their guest asked what was the first book they stayed up all night reading. I think she was expecting them to say some amazing, life-changing work of art, or at least a thriller, but Christopher sheepishly said it was probably Redwall, and Drew--equally sheepishly--agreed. I heart those guys so hard.
And for the record, I've never stayed up all night reading, even when I was young. Which is weird, because on average, I stay up way later than anyone else I know. It's just never all night. I'm usually asleep by 12:30 (a.m.). And even when I'm reading something I can't put down, somehwere around 2:30 or so, my need for sleep is greater than my need to find out what happens. (or *blush* I flip over and read the end so I can sleep.)
The Front Porch is Annie, owner of The Bookshelf in Georgia, and her friend (and possibly bookshop employee??) Chris, who is a recently minted PhD in (something humanities). I rarely agree with them, but they are interesting and engaging and like I said, I love listening to people talk about books. In a recent episode (which had guest host Hunter instead of Chris), they actually convinced me to give The Goldfinch a try. I've heard so many negative reviews that I had decided it wasn't for me (even though I loved Secret History). But now I think I'm going to try it. Just not any time soon because my library hold queue is already full.
I've already told you about What Should I Read Next so many times that I'll just say I still listen and I still love it. Anne, the host, is not an exact match in taste with me-- she tends a little more toward the soulful, all-the-feels type of book. But there's enough overlap that I can usually figure out from the way she describes something whether or not I will like it. She recommended Good Morning Midnight, To Night Owl from Dogfish, and Less, among recent favorites.
Honestly, the real way I currently figure out what to read next is by my library hold list. Our library allows you to have up to ten ebooks on hold, and I usually have eight to ten books on there. Then I read whatever book becomes available next. It's pretty simple.
About a year ago, I decided I should try to be more intentional about what I'm reading, but now I've decided it's actually a pretty good system. As with everyone who uses their library queue, that means I have the occasional unfortunate problem of three books I've had queued for weeks becoming available within two days of each other, but I suppose there are worse crises.
Oddly, I've had several experiences lately of unintended similarities in the books I'm reading. I've read three books this summer that had to do (loosely speaking) with time travel or the ability to pursue alternate timelines (Dark Matter, Life After Life, and Doomsday Book). And I just finished a book about life in a great English house between WWI and WWII (Remains of the Day) only to find that my next book, a mystery novel called Justice Hall, is also set in a great English house between WWI and WWII. How odd is that?
I've rambled on long enough that I'm even boring myself. As far as I know, everybody who reads this blog is also an avid reader, so you probably don't need any advice about how to pick books. So, one might ask, what exactly was the point of this post? And I can't say I know. But now that I've typed it out, I'm posting it.
Because it's 12:15 a.m. and it's time for bed.
Other posts in this series:
My So-Called Reading Life, part 1: writing book reviews
My So-Called Reading Life, part 2: rating books