At least once a month, I get email from a friend asking for a recommendation. The friend in question has finished a book and cannot decide on what to read next. They've come to me for inspiration.
I used to be flattered by the vote of confidence. My friends come from nearly every walk of life and read everything from comic books to eighteenth century Russian literature for fun. It felt great, knowing that I was the friend they all turned to for advice on what to read.
But the emails kept coming and not just from old friends but from people new and sometimes unknown to me thanks to the internet. I get the request from Twitter followers. I get it from Tumblr followers.
"What should I read next?"
And while I love to share my love of reading with everyone I come in contact with (and frequently do, to some people's dismay), I have to question why I get the request so frequently. Why aren't people browsing their local bookstore to find something they think is interesting? Why aren't they hitting up a library and picking something up from the New Reads section or wandering the stacks for an old favorite?
Some of my friends don't have the time to wander a bookstore (or even more depressingly, they don't have access to a really good brick-and-mortar store.)
Some see the lists of books in reputable publications and snort with derision. They wouldn't be caught dead reading the latest best seller when they all seem to feature sparkly undead creatures and paragons to an ideal of femininity that should have died more than a hundred years ago.
So they drop me a line and ask for another recommendation. And I pull up my list of recently read (and reread) to give a few suggestions.
Yes, I keep a list of what I'm reading. I'm that kind of girl.
Nothing makes me happier than handing a book off to a friend or someone I've never met. It's my way of paying it forward so to speak. I hope that by giving someone a book I love, they will love it too and pass it along to someone else who needs a little literary love in their life.
I'm going to start saying "Oh, you should go check out that bookstore" instead of sending titles if I know anything about the geographic area where someone lives. Some of my best finds have come from wandering the tables of new releases or literally judging books by their covers and pulling something from a used bin because it caught my eye. And next to putting a book in the hands of a friend, there is nothing better than introducing someone to a great bookstore.
Looking for a great indie bookstore? Check out Indie Bound. They have a great store finder for independent bookstores.
Go to your local library. They have it all. Or they can get it for you. And it's FREE!
Or find someone like me and ask them for a recommendation. I give them out free of charge too.
My current recommendations
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Excellent historical fiction with rich characters, fascinating art and a great mystery
A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse
Crime and the definition of "good" literature all in one story. Who could ask for more?
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Excellent thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seats through three volumes...and leave you wanting more
City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers
Fantasy: dinosaurs who study philosophy and value books above all else
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Why would anyone want to burn a book?