Nothing but books

» 02 September 2003 » In Books »

Jeremy is a fellow book nut. I love the smell of books, that distinct combination of wood pulp and ink that assaults you when you walk into a bookstore. Almost every weekend I head out to one and browse through the shelves, picking up books, thumbing through them, reading the first paragraph and a few in the middle, in hopes of finding a true gem. I also have a long reading list that I accumulated from various sources, but it should probably be revised. Sometimes I struggle with what book I should read next – there are so many and so little time. How do you figure out which one is worth spending your time on? Recommendations only go so far. I have literally thrown away some highly recommended books because I could not stand them, and at other times I could literally pick a random one up and go through it in one sitting. I would be interested to hear what approaches people have to organizing their reading list and how they discover new books.

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  1. andrei
    02/09/2003 at 10:13 pm Permalink

    I’ve found that in academia there a few tricks you can use to sort out the good books from the fluff….One is to see how many other books use the book in question as a citation. If the book (or author) has been cited in the literature quite a bit, then the book is probably influential in the field, and therefore worth reading.

    Another way to sort books is through recommendations – but not friends. Find yourself a person who is in charge of stocking a good, independent bookstore, or who is in charge of buying for a library. This person will know the buzz on books worth reading.

    Another way is to read books by the same author, or books that a favorite author recommends (and not those throwaway quotes on the book jacket).

    These are my favorite methods, at any rate….

  2. andrei
    02/09/2003 at 10:15 pm Permalink

    Neal Stephenson kicks ten kinds of ass, btw….

  3. andrei
    03/09/2003 at 1:36 am Permalink

    The key to a recommendation is knowing whom to trust. Over the years, I have developed this group of friends ( offline and online ) whom I trust and have found 90% of the time, their recommendation to be a good one for me.

    As for picking books at a bookstore, I normally stay away from anything that has new york times bestseller written on top of it 🙂

  4. andrei
    03/09/2003 at 12:52 pm Permalink

    Joseph Campbell once said something along the lines of, read everything by the authors you like, then read everything that they read, and then everything that those authors read, etc.

    My system? Recommendations, and thumbing through random likely books at bookstores.

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