Dear Book Nerd #24: So, How Do I Find Good Books?

Welcome to the Dear Book Nerd podcast, a bi-weekly show that answers YOUR questions about life, love, and literature! My guest co-host this week is the sparkling Maris Kreizman. Maris gives some great book recommendations and we discuss breaking out of a “book bubble” and how to find your next interesting read. Don’t miss it!

Maris is the publishing community manager at Kickstarter and also runs the extremely popular website Slaughterhouse 90210, which will soon be turned into a book! You can find her on Twitter @MarisKreizman and on Goodreads here. Thanks, Maris!

This episode was sponsored by Random House Audiobooks and The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre.
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READER MAIL:

Dear Book Nerd,

Thanks for the advice! [re: Episode #23 with Saeed Jones]. You’re absolutely correct that classics are timeless, and doing a comparative reading between contemporary literature and classics sounds fun. I will follow my own bookish quest without guilt and share the spoils with my fellow book nerds!

Your show is awesome,

Kenny

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QUESTIONS DISCUSSED:

Dear Book Nerd:

I consider myself pretty open minded and inquisitive when it comes to reading. I am slowly making my way through many classics, I recently got into genres I disliked for a long time (science fiction, comics, poetry), and I plan to explore Essays and Drama next. I love to peruse bookstores, though I often rely on the library for my reading. I am always on the lookout for new book recommendations. I scour best seller lists, top tens, themed lists from places like Flavorwire and, of course, Book Riot. I have even gone as far as to demand friends assign me books they don’t think I would ever pick up to expand my scope. I am dating an indie bookseller and they are of course a great source of recommendations. I am also in a book club at Word Bookstore which has helped me find a few new authors I like.

However, I still feel like I am in a bubble. I feel like I see the same recommendations over and over. Between top ten lists and the apparent echo chamber of the internet, I am at a loss of how to push myself further. How can I find books that would not usually get attention? How can I find quality authors in translation I would never read otherwise? Are there places that recommend midlist authors? How can I remove myself from this bubble?

Thanks,

Bubble Boy

Dear Book Nerd,

This isn’t a question about asking out my local librarian. I mean, I’m definitely a dream catch, but I’ve been caught, and I’m happy 🙂

This is a follow up to the question a few episodes back where a listener admitted they would never read all the books. In fact, the finite number that they would read in their lifetime is soberingly small. I accept that for myself, too. But, I want every read to be as good as possible, but the researching and deciding often leave me unsatisfied because I don’t know where to start. Do librarians (or other services) welcome me reporting, “I like this kind of book,” or “I’ve liked these books,” can you recommend a list of books you think there is a high probability I’d like?

For example, I love fiction set in the American west – Norman Maclean, Ivan Doig, John Steinbeck and Willa Cather are favourites. Also, I enjoy books with some type of magical realism, and if that magical realism incorporates religious mysticism (Jewish, Christian, Islamic, etc), even better.

Is this something you as a librarian would welcome, and we could begin a feedback loop? Is there a service you know of that does this well (preferably a real person, not an algorithm)? I want a trusted source of curation.

Sincerely,

A Librarian’s Dream

Dear Book Nerd,

I was quite a reader in my younger years. However, I seem to have strayed due to my heavy course load in college. Now that I’ve been out of college for 3 years, I am starting to read for pleasure again but I am overwhelmed by the number of great books available. Can you recommend some titles that would refuel my love for reading?

Thanks,

Nynaeve

Dear Book Nerd,

I love to read, but I never know where to turn for book recommendations. I am kind of technologically impaired so the internet and its myriad lists and sites on the subject have me overwhelmed, especially since everything seems to be broken down into categories and I want to read a bit of everything. I was wondering if you knew of any sources for recommendations so that I can stop breaking my head over where to find a suggestion for my next book. Thank you 🙂

The Canadian

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LINKS/BOOKS DISCUSSED:

My Favorite Books of 2014 (Slaughterhouse 90210)

What Book Should You Read Next? Putting Librarians And Algorithms To The Test (Fast Coexist)

Brooklyn Public Library BookMatch

Best Translated Book Awards (Rochester University)

Online “Best of 2014” Book Lists (Largehearted Boy)

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

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Dear Book Nerd

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