Monday, March 4, 2013

Finding Treasures

I'm always tickled when someone tells me that they discovered a great book because I recommended it. I don't know why it gives me such great pleasure to match readers with good books, but it does. So after someone mentioned it to me today, I started thinking about how I've discovered my own treasures.

These days I happen on many because they're given to me to consider for review. That's been a great way to find books and authors I wouldn't have found on my own. I've also discovered some authors I don't think I would have otherwise during my travels to book events. Some of my long time favorites I discovered in school: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Divine Comedy.

But there have been some special and unusual experiences for me as well. You never know where you might find your next great read...or who might recommend it to you.

When I was still teaching, I was working on a committee that was evaluating text books and it was here that I found an excerpt from Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides. I immediately chased down the full book and devoured almost his entire collection in a month. To this day I still count The Lords of Discipline among my top 10 favorite books.

A book I have recommended to countless others now was first recommended to me by someone I was dating. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I think the guy I was dating remained as long as he did because of that recommendation. John Irving is a hit and miss for me, but A Prayer for Owen Meany is amazing and wonderful and if you've only seen that horrible movie Simon Birch, you have no idea what you're really missing.

I've discovered many books just browsing through the library. But these days I do less browsing. With so many books at home that have to be read, browsing is dangerous and I end up taking home a lot of books I either can't finish or that prevent me from reading the aforementioned books already at home. However, I do get online and request books I specifically want or need, especially audiobooks. Then I go in and pick them up. One time I had to wait in line to pick up my holds and while I was waiting, The Crime Writer (Gregg Hurwitz) called to me from the new releases shelf in front of the check out desk. Just seeing that title down the spine, I couldn't resist its siren song!

And I should probably come clean on how I discovered Robert Crais, the author who kicked off my love affair with crime fiction. It was through an email advertisement. These days I'm inundated with those things and actually don't open hardly any, but back when I got that one, it wasn't a common practice. I believe it came from Borders and they were advertising The Watchman. I was intrigued by the plot summary so I did a little more research and found out it was part of a series. Back then I had the luxury of backtracking. I read RC's entire backlist, starting at The Monkey's Raincoat, in less than a month and devoured The Watchman as well. That started the dominoes falling....

How about you? Have you discovered a book through unique circumstances? And where did you discover one of your all-time favorites?


Beth F March 4, 2013 at 7:09 AM  

I remember the days when I'd read an author's entire list. Sigh. I also remember when I relied on book of the month type clubs and UseNet or Yahoo! groups to give me ideas of what to read.

Charleen March 4, 2013 at 9:49 AM  

Looking through my list of favorites. A couple I picked up randomly while browsing (and this is actually how I discovered my favorite author). More were from "virtual browsing," but that's not quite the same. Very few were actually from recommendations.

George at The Thirty Year Itch March 4, 2013 at 8:36 PM  

Great post. I have read lots of recommended books, but the book that was recommended that reintroduced me to reading as an adult was "The Death and Life of Bobby Z" by Don Winslow. It was awesome, and maybe I'll write about how it came about someday

Naomi Johnson March 4, 2013 at 9:46 PM  

When I was about 10-11 years old, my older sister, about 16 herself, took me on a 'vacation' to visit cousins in West Virginia. This was really a 3-day jaunt made via Trailways bus line. What we thought would be a great adventure turned out to be pretty dull. But in my Aunt Ginny's home were several volumes from the Detective Book Club series. There were usually 2-3 books in each volume. And one boring afternoon we opened these books and discovered A.A. Fair, a pseudonym for Earl Stanley Gardner. UP FOR GRABS introduced me to the detective team of Donald Lam and Bertha Cool. These weren't the first mysteries I had read, but they were the first PI stories in my experience. I still re-read this series every couple of years. In fact I just re-read (for the umpty-umpth time) UP FOR GRABS last month.

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