May 25, 2009

How do you choose what to read?

I infrequently read nonfiction, but I picked up A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle to inspire me this Memorial Day weekend. It felt appropriate, since we needn't reach any further back than yesterday to find three U.S. soldiers killed in combat. I honor those soldiers as much as veterans from WWI or Vietnam, but I can't help feeling we haven't learned nearly enough, as a nation or globally, to make the shift away from violence as a means of settling disputes. Yes, I know this is naive. But I'll be naive rather than cynical; hopeful rather than resigned; peaceful rather than combative for as long as I can remain so.

The fact that I own A New Earth started me thinking about how I decide what to read. I realized that I rely on a handful of friends who read voraciously and recommend books passionately. Book reviews don't move me to action and I don't pay attention to bestseller lists, although I generally know what "everyone is reading" the way some people know what everyone is wearing or where everyone is dining. But I will buy and read a book if Leslie, Justine, Jodi or Vicky clutch a hand to their heart and say, "You have to read this!" I have half a dozen or so beloved authors I follow, and I will sometimes make an impulsive purchase if I'm in a bookstore and something catches my eye. For the most part, however, my reading list is informed by my girls.

Word of mouth works for me as a reader. But as an author? Creating "buzz" is something that may forever elude me. And I wonder how the rest of you choose which books to cozy up with at night?

1 comment:

Girlbert said...

I know you don't want to hear this as a published author, but I often come across great books at the thrift store - I love browsing through random stacks of books to see what jumps out at me, and I LOVE taking an armload to the cash register and getting out of there for under $10!

The same thing goes for new books, too, though - sometimes it's just random how I begin a relationship with a book that ends up on my favorites list. I'll flip on the TV, and there will be some author talking about her latest offering, or I'll pick up a publication in a coffee shop and there will be an article about an author or book review. And it never fails, I always LOVE it, and it's always just what I needed to hear.

I need to read me some Eckhart Tolle. You need to check out Augusten Burroughs (if you haven't already). Non-fiction good enough to be fiction. I have a thing for memoirs, though.