Monday, December 15, 2008

"Lorraine, my density has brought me to you."

Okay, excellent movie quotes aside (George McFly from Back to the Future for those who were unsure), I am here to make a public service announcement regarding your next book. Sometimes pure happenstance can make a book catch your eye that you may not have noticed otherwise, or it may seem like inescapable fate just plopped a book into your lap. Either way you look at it, a little effort to find a good book can reap huge rewards.

Most people might refer to the phenomenon of scanning over books, waiting for one to catch your eye as "browsing", which, in fact, it is. Just browsing in general, however, is eye-exhausting and time-consuming. A surefire way to dramatically increase your chances of finding an excellent book is to look in a place where most of the higher quality books have already been distilled from all the titles available out there. One such source is the New York Times list of the 100 Notable Books of 2008. As this list represents the best of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, it provides an excellent cross-section of what is out there. It is also single-handedly responsible for the addition of four titles to my personal upcoming reading schedule. The Notable Books list comes out by the beginning of December every year, just in time for banishing holiday ennui as well as aiding gift-seekers.

Another way to locate an excellent read is so simple that I almost hesitate to mention it. When you are at the library or shopping in a bookstore, pay attention to book covers. There actually are times when you can judge a book by its cover. Be open to images that grab your attention, as it may contain a captivating tale that you may have never heard about. Here is one cover that caught my attention, shadowy figures and unique titles get me every time. One has to be careful, however: a great cover may not lead to a fantastic story, but then again, it just might.

So whether you're feeling lucky or have prepared yourself to see what density - uh, destiny, I mean - has in store for you, go on out there and start looking for your next favorite book!

1 comment:

Laura A. said...

I actually found my all-time favorite book by browsing. The book that caught my eye had a fierce-looking young woman seated at a piano on the cover. The book was Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. I didn't have enough money that day (should have gone to the library), so I instead bought another one of her novels--One of Ours--and have been hooked ever since.

If you've never read any Willa Cather, an excellent title to start with is My Antonia. But if you have any interest in music--or in the lives of artists and the experiences that shape them--Song of the Lark should go to the top of your reading list!

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