Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Senseless Ponderings for Sunday

I've noticed that a lot of people feel very passionately about Oprah's book recommendations or "lists" like The New York Times Best Seller List or some arbitrary group's Best Books of All Times List.

I have to admit that I don't feel so passionately one way or the other with the exception of the "Best Book" lists. Reading is too personal an experience to have any list titled that. "Best" is just too subjective a term - you can't measure best by any given standard. Everyone's "best" is different...however, I digress.

My pondering on this topic is - do you read a book just because Oprah recommends it or because it's on a best seller list? Or are you possibly one of those people who goes to the other end of the spectrum and REFUSES to read a book because it's on Oprah's recommended list? Me? I don't really care what kind of labels are on the covers; I care what's between the covers. I've read books that Oprah ended up recommending, some I've enjoyed, some I haven't. NYTimes Best Seller list, I've read some of those, too. The Audacity of Hope is one of the greatest non-fiction works I've ever read - I was so motivated to go out and DO SOMETHING after reading that book. Don't regret picking it up at all. Likewise I've read Suze Orman and picked up some great investment advice written at a level I could understand. I enjoy reading Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, Linda Fairstein, Kathy Reichs, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Pat Conroy. I believe they've all made the NYTimes Best Seller list at some point. AND I'm not a fan of James Patterson, but he makes that list before the books even hit the stores it seems like.

And of course there are all the books that never make any "list" and so many of them are just amazing. I find it such a shame that the masses for the most part remain completely ignorant to their existence. That's part of why I have this blog. I boil over with excitement at the opportunity to share Michael Koryta or Chris Grabenstein or Thomas Holland or James Fredericks with everyone. Sometimes I'm so excited that I can't get the words our right! ;)

And thus the question to ponder: I have a hard time understanding why people would limit themselves by either saying, "I can't read ANYTHING on that list" or "I can't read it if DOESN'T make the list." If you have one of these philosophies, can you tell me why you have it? How do you choose what you read from ALL the incredible offerings that are available to us?

If that wasn't enough for one post, I'm also pondering Christmas gifts this time of year. I give a lot of books for gifts. If anyone in my family specifically asks for a book, it's a safe bet they'll receive it from me - provided it isn't some obscure signed, out-of-print job that would cost $500 or something. I LOVE to give books! One of my sisters, my dad and my brother-in-law all enjoy books similar to what I enjoy, so when I find something special, they'll often receive a copy of it. Last Christmas Michael Koryta made the rounds under our Christmas tree. This year, I'm still deciding. I have a few books I'm considering.

And of course my niece and nephew have to receive books as well. Payton is 7 and Ryan is 3. Both love stories! Payton is reading on her own now, but she still likes to be read to as well. Ryan is going to get his very own personal ABC book this year. I scrapbook an ABC book with pictures of him throughout. He's just now starting to identify letters. Payton received her several years ago.

Do you give books for gifts?

Well, if I don't get some work done on that ABC book, Ryan will be receiving it for his birthday instead of Christmas. Have fun pondering, and happy reading!!


Patti O November 9, 2008 at 4:51 PM  

Oprah books--blecccch! I haven't read any that she's suggested. Many library patrons that I've worked with have read lots of Oprah books, but quite a few finally stopped because so many of them are quite depressing.

I love to give books as gifts--I'm definitely the relative that gives books :).

Corey Wilde November 9, 2008 at 5:23 PM  

I think I've read a few of the books Oprah's recommended but not for that reason. 'The Lovely Bones,' for example, was handed to me by a friend who had difficulty reading it but thought I might like it. And I did, I thought it was remarkable. But I don't pay a lot of attention to lists of mainstream novels because that isn't where my reading interest is. But if book or list of books are recommended by an author whose work I enjoy, I'll check some of those out. I've had a lot of reading pleasure due to recommendations by Ken Bruen and Lee Child. I only picked up Dennis Lehane's 'Gone Baby Gone' because Koryta rec'd it highly.

So my reading is influenced mostly by people who know me, know what I like, or by authors who write what I like and are generous enough to point readers toward other authors. And occasionally...I read someone's blog, someone who makes such a good case for a book that I can't resist it. Sound like anyone you know?

Jen November 9, 2008 at 5:55 PM  

I really enjoyed The Lovely Bones, too, Corey. I also read The Bluest Eye. Those might be the only two I've read _ I'd have to look at her list. And I read both long before they were Oprah picks. But, yes, Patti, they are both rather depressing. They're good, but they are depressing.

Ah Corey, I started reading Lehane because Koryta recommended him as well!! And I started with Gone Baby Gone because he cited it on his website as being very influencial to him.

I started reading Crais and Holland because I received advertising e-mails from Borders or B&N with summaries of the books and they just sounded like things I would enjoy. So, I checked them out.

Now I get recommendations from friends or I've discovered quite a few great books from authors who have asked me to read their books...Tim Hallinan, James Fredericks, Ed Lynskey.

And thanks for the compliment, Corey. I definitely needed that today; it made me smile! :) You're the best!

beauvallet November 10, 2008 at 10:28 PM  

I don't give as many books for gifts as I used to. Thanks to the economy, that will probably change this year.

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