Recently I have found myself making book recommendations.
WHICH I NEVER DO. I am terrified of making recommendations. For most of my life, I have adopted my parents’ method of sharing books or movies, which is to say, “I [enjoyed it, was bored by it, really liked it, this one was okay], but I won’t recommend it.” It has rarely mattered how I felt about the book or film, I have never been willing to recommend it. Because what if the person to whom I recommend said piece HATES IT and then says, “Well, Sarah recommended it to me…”?!
I just can’t handle the risk. I am not a risk taker. I am a calculated, chronic over-thinker. One who does not recommend books. [Aside: I recently learned I am a six on the enneagram, which has totally wrecked me and explained half of my over-thinking all at once. I hate it and I love it, which is characteristic of a six. UGH.]
At any rate. I am now becoming the book sommelier (is there a word that works better for this?) for my mom and my aunt and a few other friends. This is making me think about books differently. In a good way. I can’t handle thinking I might give a book to my mom that has a sex scene in it (HORRORS) and I want the books to be realistic, but I don’t want them to be too sad, since all three of us are in the reader camp that believes “life is already sad, I don’t read for realism, I read for escape”.
To get here, I had to learn what kind of books I like to read and then be brave enough to admit it. Prime example: I still keep my Shopaholic books in the drawer of my nightstand and put my more intellectual reads on the bookshelf in the living room because as funny as I find Becky, I am just a wee bit embarrassed that I read her. It took me a while to find what I liked, too, because once I was out of school, I kept reading like I was in school for a while. I know. I’ve been out of college for over 12 years. Good grief. It took me a minute.
Sometimes I read for the intellectual challenge or for personal/spiritual growth. That is another post altogether. Right now, I’m evaluating and sharing what I’ve learned about reading for pleasure. So, in the spirit of not recommending anything, here are my tips for finding a good read:
- Decide what you really, genuinely like in a book. I like books that make me think, but not books that require me to take notes in order to retain. Sometimes I want to just be entertained for a minute, sometimes I want to feel the way I feel when I am taking a walk alone outside or reading poetry. I like books about books, books about authors or readers, books about bookstores, tiny bakeries, women “finding themselves” (no romance necessary), books with occasional recipes thrown in, I like books with a hint of mystery (but nothing scary – I have a vivid imagination), and I usually like historical fiction, depending on the era. A little romance is okay, but if the leads keep hopping into bed, I’m done. A little suspense is alright, but if it creeps me out, I bail. I want to enjoy the book, I don’t want to acquire a taste for it.
- Investigate what other people like to read. I am a huge fan of Anne Bogel over at Modern Mrs. Darcy and get a lot of my reading suggestions from her. Anne has a podcast called ‘What Should I Read Next?‘, wherein she matches people with books, based on their preferences. I sometimes search for summer reading lists on Pinterest. Occasionally I text my high school English teacher and ask her what she’s been reading lately. And I just re-established my GoodReads account, so I can keep track of what I’m liking and maybe find some more good reads for the fall.
- Be willing to wander. Sometimes I just wander the local library or bookstore. I read the jackets and then see who wrote promo for the book. If an author I really like writes a review for a particular book, the chances I will take that home are increased by 35%. (Okay, I totally made that up. But the chances do go up.) I am also more influenced by the cover or jacket than I entirely necessary. I want my books to be pretty, too! If I love a book, I may or may not own several copies, if I find pretty ones.
- Be willing to bail. Blessed be the library. Borrowing books wins here! I have NO guilt whatsoever when I bail on a book I borrowed! Occasionally – very rarely – I will buy a book with little to no research and then discover that I cannot finish it. And then I feel super crappy for bailing on a book I now own and have broken the binding on. (I am a binding-breaker. Another issue for another post. Probably in a list with the Oxford comma and other quirky things.) ANYWAY. When you borrow from the library you are utterly, completely free to bail on a book you hate with zero remorse! And unless you are in some strange competition with yourself, I urge you: BAIL ON THE BOOK. You only have so much time. Don’t read a book you hate.
There you have it. Best practices for being bookish.
I figure reading should be fun, but it can also take a little work to find what makes it fun.
Totally worth it.
And if you must know, this is what’s on my nightstand right now:
And you can check out my Goodreads here, to see what I’ve read, liked, not liked and what’s on my to-be-read list!