Finding the Next Good Book Depends on Variety of Sources
August 28, 2012
For the longest time I depended on serendipity to direct me to the next good book.
I would wander through bookstore aisles and library stacks browsing for books, letting a title or a cover catch my eye. I'd pick a book up, and if the blurbs on the back sounded halfway interesting, I'd take it home and crack it open. The problem with this approach to literary selection was serendipity had some serious lapses in judgment. Needless to say, serendipity and I weren't compatible and we parted ways.
For a short time, I let Oprah inform my choices in reading materials. The operative word in that last sentence is "short."
I also had a fling with the New York Times Bestseller list. From this brief relationship, I learned bestselling books and the high school in-crowd have a lot in common - popularity doesn't always translate into interesting, well written, or entertaining.
Today, I don't have an exclusive relationship with any particular book list. Instead, I'm seeing several sources to find my next good read.
Here they are, four of my favorites:
- The Book Beast: The book section of The Daily Beast news website, the Book Beast offers articles about new books, authors, and literary trends. I especially like the Beast's weekly pick of five hot reads, which ranges from historical fiction to contemporary issues. This is one of my favorite places to find something to read that's not on the lists of "usual suspects."
- National Public Radio: I've had many a "driveway moment" listening to the last couple of minutes of an author interview or book review. This summer, I especially enjoyed the Crime in the City series, which featured interviews with crime writers who base their books in particular cities around the world. (I could go inside and listen to these features online, but that would mean my family couldn't stare out the window at me, wondering why I'm not getting out of the car.) You can also look over NPR's Bestseller List, which comes from a nationwide survey of independent booksellers.
- The Kansas City Star: Although the book features aren't what they used to be, I still find a story or book review in the newspaper that leads me to some great reads.
- Christian Science Monitor: I usually check in at csmonitor.com for international news, but lately I've been wandering over to the books page. There is some great book news here, as well as great reviews and suggestions.