Choosing Books

8 Jul

The ReadBoston Storymobile program started this week and so did my summer of storytelling.  I have been lax about posting and I apologize. Last week I went to an amazing four-day storytelling workshop in the strikingly adorable town of Marblehead, MA. Seriously, I think this town is my version of Disneyland–I basically walked around the tiny streets with mouth agape at the historic houses, tiny alleyways, and hidden gems of gardens.  Also, the people were incredibly friendly. But, I digress.  Although I have to spread the good word about Judith Black, awesome woman, and incredible storyteller, who led a group of inspiring women through this workshop. Check her out here: Judith Black.  This is all to say that last week allowed me to be in the creative flow and motivated me to try new things this year as a storyteller. I’ve told for the past two days and it’s gone well!

So, you’re thinking, how does this relate to the topic of this post, choosing books? The storymobile is ReadBoston’s most well-known and public program. This is for two reasons, but more one reason than the other: 1)Storytellers tell stories at about 80 sites throughout the city of Boston for six weeks  for free  2)Every child who attends these storytelling sessions receives  a free book. That’s right, FREE BOOKS!  If a child attends every week, she will have six brand new books to add to her book collection. Wow! As we all know, it’s pretty hard to resist free things and when it’s actually something worthwhile like a children’s book, I can understand the frenzy surrounding the storymobile. Check out the schedule here: Storymobile Schedule. Anywho, each child gets to pick her own book out at the end of the session, and today as I watched a young girl of about 10 or so look through some books to try to find one to her liking, it got me thinking about the topic of choosing books. I’ve thought of it before, but wanted to share some ways that I personally choose what books to read.

I had a great conversation with my Aunt and sister the last time I was home about how I choose books.  They both said they don’t know how or where to find out about which books to read and don’t know which books will be good.  Both of them are now on GoodReads, which is a fabulous site dedicated to keeping track of books one reads.  You are able to make lists of books to read, read, and other lists to your liking.  You can also see what books your friends read and how they’ve rated them.  There’s also room to write a review. It’s wonderful!   This is one way I look for new books to read. I especially enjoy it if a friend has written a review of a book because it helps me to make a more informed decision about whether or not I’d like to read the book.  I’m always on the lookout for fiction books because I LOVE fiction, but I’ve started to branch out in the past few years into non-fiction and some graphic novels as well.

Another place I visit regularly is the IndieBound website.  It’s a website run by independent bookstores (yay indie bookstores, I adore you!).  They have lots of bestselling lists, as well as the Indie Next List that features book reviews by independent booksellers from all over the country. I’ve found a lot of incredible books from that list. It also lets you know when the hardback books on the Indie Next List are out in paperback. Plus, you can find indie bookstores in places all over the country, which is excellent for  a bibliophile like me, who enjoys visiting the indie bookstores in every town she visits! Yes, it’s my fantasy to travel all over the US visiting all the Indie Bookstores and doing a photo documentary of the books in them, the quirky people who work there, and the customers.

I also talk books with my colleagues quite frequently, especially one of them, who reads as voraciously as me.  We have similar tastes and we’re always running up to each other saying excitedly, Hey did you read such and such book? It’s awesome and I’d think you’d like it.  Of course the beset part about this is when we do read the same book and get to discuss it afterwards!

A few other ways that I choose books: Oprah Magazine, alluring book displays at Brookline Booksmith  & Harvard Bookstore, recommendations on my Nook based on other books I’ve read.  Sometimes I visit a bookstore and just spend heavenly time browsing books.  I almost always visit the bargain section, the fiction section, and the young adult section.  If a book looks interesting, either by the cover (yes, I do judge a book by its cover, at least initially), or if it’s an author I know or have heard of, I will pick it up and read the back and a few pages inside.  I’ve found a few gems this way.  However, this isn’t something that’s taught and I’ve seen over the years that lots of kids have no idea what to look for in a book to figure out if they might enjoy reading it.

So, I’m curious, how do you choose the books you read? Happy reading!

4 Responses to “Choosing Books”

  1. April July 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    I am someone who is always adding books to my List. Most often I find them through the NY Times and NPR book reviews because I trust them (based on experience). But I just read a book by Chip Kidd about all the book covers he’s designed and that led me to add about 50 more books to my list. I checked out the indiebound site and will be using that in the future. Powell’s also has good reviews. Sometimes if I get stuck on an author (Sam Shepard, recently), I will read several of his and within those, get ideas for others. I keep track of books I want to read on shelfari – http://www.shelfari.com/o1517164828.

    (Found your site from The Burning House–well done. Most of the time I think people have overestimated how many things they could actually save in a fire but yours was realistic.)

    • mzpinetree July 11, 2011 at 12:26 am #

      Hi April! Thanks so much for reading and responding to my post! I’ll have to check out the shelfari website–sounds neat. Yeah, I often get stuck on an author too and am usually happy with all of the books, although isn’t it the worst when you love a book by an author that makes you want to read everything by her/him and then the other books don’t live up to that one you loved? Also, yes, I agree about the burning house–I was pretty skeptical that people would have the time to run around their house getting all of those items–I tried to think about what was in my bedroom that I would grab if I had to run from a fire. Happy end-of-the-weekend!

  2. goddamnvoiceofreason July 11, 2011 at 2:14 am #

    Great post and ideas for finding good books.Tx. This afternoon, our youngest daughter just wondered out loud if there was something like Net Flix for books. I thought there might be but neither of us was sure where or how to find it. Now we are.

    btw Judith Black is an excellent teacher and teller. Break a leg at the Gazebo on Tuesday July 12th ! Wish I could come. Will be interested to hear how it goes. Did you post your gig anywhere in JP? GNO? or Neighbor to Neighbor? Curious about best ways to get the word out for JP.

    • mzpinetree July 11, 2011 at 2:47 am #

      Hi! Thanks for reading and responding. I’m pretty sure the event for Tuesday is up on GNO and it may be up on the JP mom’s group page. I also know we had Storymobile posters that we put up in JP hangouts like JP Licks, Harvest, and City Feed. This is the first summer we’re trying out storytelling at night–we’re also telling at Frankin Park Zoo on Thursday nights, so I’ll be curious at the turnout as well. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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