Who Tells You What To Read?

There’s been a lot of action in the blogosphere lately about Oprah’s choice of Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” for her virtual book club.

I’m too smart or too cowardly to make an editorial comment on the choice, the chooser, or the much-ado-about-nothing (although that last one sounds a bit editorial). But the kerfuffle did make me think about all the people you know and don’t know, who tell you which books to read.

Who to trust? – that’s the question isn’t it? Who knows books and you well enough to act as matchmaker?

Oprah WinfreyWho knows what you value, you really value? Or what gives you pleasure, your most secret pleasure? Who understands your English comprehension well enough to know how easily you can read a Faulkner, or a Hiaasen for that matter? Do you look for books you can treasure forever or do you pitch them in the first trash can you find once you’re finished with them – you’ve read the last page or you’re too bored to turn the next one? Who knows all that about you?

Do even your best book-reading buddies know you well enough to recommend your reading material? Anyway, you get the point.

Your friends have only a slim shot at suggesting a book that you’ll love as much as they did. And even if the NYT has been helpful in the past – or any other source that’s reliable (as in “reliable sources say…) – nobody will bat a thousand.

The best way to pick what you’ll read next, is to be a real reader, to read a lot. Then you can sniff out a good book like a bloodhound on a scent. You’ll almost know it by its cover and you’ll certainly know what you want to spend your time on after reading the first few (free) pages in your bookstore or library.

Reading is such an investment of your time…make it count.

  1. Robert Politz says

    A wonderful mousetrap without publicity will fail but a so-so mousetrap with great publicity will be successful. Isn’t that what celebrity endorsements are all about?

  2. Delora Daye says

    After reading three of Oprah’s choices and having each of them put me to sleep, I figured Oprah struck out with me. But more power to those authors who benefit from her massive media influence. 🙂

  3. MalcolmCampbell says

    Oprah has chosen some good books, but what she chooses has no impact on me other than
    “hmm” because I have authors, genres, themes and subjects I care about and–as you say–I’m “like a bloodhound on a scent” when it comes to books that fit. Sure, if Oprah picked one of my books, that would be wonderful. But when it comes down to it, I’m browsing Amazon and B&N and the newspapers’ review pages for news about upcoming titles.

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