Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Salon: Book Recommendations & Other Bookish Talk

Last week's events put a damper on my reading mood, and unfortunately my reading is still slow going. I finally did settle into a book that has caught my interest, however. My usual comfort reads weren't even sounding appealing. I was instantly drawn to Allison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Boooks Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession. Now, it might be strange that I would want to read a book about a real life thief right about now, but, of course, there's much more to the story than that. I am quite enjoying the book at the moment and am fascinated by the world of book collectors. I may have a large collection of books, but I'm by no means a book collector in the same sense the people described in the book are. They look for rare valuable books while my interest is merely that of a reader looking for a good story. Have you read Bartlett's book? If so, what did you think?

On another note, I took several more bags of books to the office recently. I never guessed they would be such a big hit! Several people have come to me to thank me, and I thought I'd share one e-mail that made my week:
Wendy -

Thanks again for all the wonderful books you donated. I just finished "The Five People You Meet in Heaven". Remember Eddie, the 83 year-old maintenance man who feels his life is meaningless and then suddenly dies, meets these five people, and realizes his significance in life. Love, love, love it.

Candace just recommended that I read "Tuesdays with Morrie" written by the same author Mitch Albom. - That's what I'm going to do.

What makes this particular e-mail even more meaningful is that Christine is not a reader. She decided to give one of the books a try to see what it was I loved about reading so much.

Several of my workmates have approached me to ask for recommendations among the books I brought to the office. I always start off by asking them what it is they like to read. I tend to be shy about recommending books. Sometimes I find it easy to match books with tastes, but other times, not so much. There's always a risk when recommending books to people that they will not like them.

My darling husband is a much more discerning reader than I am, which makes him a bit difficult to buy books for. It doesn't stop me from giving him recommendations now and then, however. I think he's still wondering why I recommended The Hunger Games trilogy (because I wanted to discuss it with him in more detail), which he did like but wondered what all the fuss was about. And he was less than enamored by Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice (and for the record, I haven't actually read this one myself yet--he just happened to get to it first). I'm not even sure he finished the book.

Anjin recently read and reviewed An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, a book I slipped into his TBR stack this past summer. I was a bit nervous about what he would think given it's not his usual type of book to read. I do hope you'll mosey on over to his blog and read his thoughts on the book.

What was the last book you recommended to someone? What did the person think of the book?

As to the packing, the number of boxes full of books continues to grow. At last count we were up to 31 boxes--and these are the keepers. Included in the boxes are most of my TBR collection as well. We still have several more shelves to go before all the books will be packed away. Minus my "just in case" books, of course. Talk about a book obsession . . .

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Happy reading!

© 2011, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Since I teach English recommending books is part of my job. Because I always ask people to name a couple of favorite books before I make a recommendation, I do fairly well.

  2. I missed your previous post due to having to click Mark All as Read earlier this week - I'm so so sorry about your computer, Wendy! :(

    I'm not sure about general recommendations, but the last book I forced on my partner was Nation by Terry Pratchett, which fortunately was a big success!

  3. I share your feelings about recommending books - I'm always wary that someone else won't like my favorites. I do like to talk about the books I loved and recommend them in general, but hesitate to actually individually advise people on their reading. This includes my husband, who is also more discerning than I am! He has vastly different taste in books to me, which makes it even harder.

  4. I know what you mean about recommending books to your husband -- but I've had some great luck lately in that department. Now if only I could get Mr. BFR to write reviews....

  5. Recommending books was one of my favorite things about working at the library. I was kind of the "go-to" person when a patron asked for a fiction recommendation and other staff members would come get me to help out. I too would always ask what they liked to read and then usually I'd take them on a little tour around the fiction section, pulling out this or that. I did fairly well with people. Had a couple who came to me over and over. LOL

    Glad your life has settled down a bit. I'm still in my awful reading slump. I just cannot concentrate right now and am about to do a post asking for help from others - book suggestions that might let me dive into a good story. It's not best when Kay doesn't read for long periods of time. :-)

  6. Glad your week went better Wendy. I work with(2) non readers. They did not go to libraries when then were little, and as a result, neither have their children -- sad. (We work in a library too)

  7. I think it is wonderful that both you and your husband share a love of reading. I am the only one in my house who reads with any regularity.

    I am glad to hear that the packing continues to go well. That is always a difficult job - I can't imagine doing it while pregnant!

  8. My husband had exactly the same reaction to The Hunger Games!

  9. C.B. James - I imagine you're quite good at recommending books! I don't often give individual recommendations and probably am more on than I am off when recommending books when I do. I try and keep in mind that sometimes a book just doesn't fit with a reader when it doesn't work out.

    Nymeth - Thank you Nymeth. Every time I log into my husband's computer, I am reminded of just how much I've lost. :-(

    I'm so glad your partner liked Nation. I'm not sure what my record is with my husband, but he can be a hard one to choose for. ;-) My dad is another difficult one as his tastes have really changed over the years. He and my mom are enjoying experimenting with the books I sent home with them last time--many of which are outside their normal reading zones. Wait until they get their hands on this next batch of books I have set aside for them!

    Meghan - I'm the same way. I love to talk about books I've enjoyed but don't often make individual recommendations (usually not unless asked directly).

    My husband's and my taste vary to some degree but are the same in other ways. I will often ask him if he thinks I'll like a book he's just read and loved and he's usually spot on with his answer. I think I'd like more of what he reads than he'd like what I read in the end though.

  10. I work in an elementary school library, and the best part of my job is recommending books to the students, whether as a whole or individually. I recently wrote a list of books out for a 5th grader who reads voraciously and wanted to read more books like Harry Potter, and every week she has that list in her hand when her class visits the library.

    I also recommended The Passage to my husband, who loved it!

  11. Beth - I think I have more luck than not when recommending books to my husband, but I don't do it too often. And I'm always a bit leery of buying him books that he hasn't asked for specifically, but sometimes I do take the plunge. Admittedly, those books usually end up in my TBR pile when he's done! LOL

    Kay - I think being a teacher or working in a library would make you a pro at recommending books. Not to mention the exposure you have to so many great books . . .

    I'm not sure settled down is a word I would use to describe my life right now, but I know what you mean. :-) At least I'm reading again. I hope you are able to come out of your slump. It's awful when they last so long.

    Diane - I do find it sad when I talk to people who don't know the joys of reading. I realize they have other interests and such that maybe I don't share, but I keep thinking of what they're missing! It seems especially odd to me that people who work in libraries wouldn't be readers, but I can't say it surprises me.

  12. I used to talk about books all the time. However, I found out that most don't get it. They don't read and don't want to read!

    So book blogging world is the best place to interact.

    Here is my Sunday Salon post!

  13. Molly - I can't imagine not being married to a reader--but it's all I know so I'm a bit biased in that regard. :-) I'm just glad he doesn't mind all my bookish ramblings--even when it's about books we both know he'll never read. He says he feels the same way about me listening to his gaming talk. I guess it balances out in the end.

    The packing is coming along. We've been throwing out a ton of stuff and I find myself wondering why in the world we held onto some of it. Ten years in one house will do that to you, I guess. I'm really bad about knowing my limits when it comes to packing and the pregnancy. I get on a roll and forget to take breaks--then I regret it later. Or I'll forget to eat my snack or meal (since I've got gestational diabetes, eating on schedule is kind of a big deal). I'll be glad when it's all done and we're actually moved.

    Jill - Isn't that funny? We did have a great discussion about the book and about how some books tend to do better among the general public than most others.

    Cinnamon Owl - And what a great feeling to know you've had that kind of influence on a child! You've opened so many new doors for her.

  14. Gautami - I know people like that too. They think my love for reading is "cute" or "nerdy" but it isn't something they really want to understand. And while it makes me sad to some degree, I accept that not everything I enjoy doing is something that others will enjoy doing to. I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by other readers in my life right now. That hasn't always been the case.

    Book blogging and online book groups are definitely the only places I've ever met anyone with the same book obsession I have though--at least to the same degree. :-)

  15. People have such different tastes in books that I often hesitate to push books on friends. But I've found s9ome good books by reading book blogs and even going through other's libraries!

    The Sari Shop Widow

  16. Understandably, events put a damper on your reading. I'm amazed you're able to write today after all that...and read a book about a thief?!?!? :)

    I also wanted to thank you for the link to one of my posts from last week's Sunday Salon. I appreciate it. This past week, my wife and I recommended A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving to a woman in the book club at our local bookstore. We're hoping she likes it, but we'll try not to be too offended if she isn't.

  17. The last book I recommended was Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. I raved about it to three coworkers and they all loved it. It's probably going to be our #1 hand-sell at our store!

  18. Harvee - Blogs are such a great resource for getting book recommendations. I get the majority of my recommendations from there these days.

    Unfinished Person - It's been crazy around here, that's for sure. And I should be good with the book as long as no one expects me to sympathize with the thief right now. :-)

    I hope the woman in the book club enjoys A Prayer for Own Meany too. I haven't managed to get to that one yet, but it's come highly recommended by several people--so hopefully I will like it too.

    Les - I keep hearing good things about Left Neglected. I remember singing the praises of Genova after I finished Still Alice. It made a big impression on me.

  19. I can't even imagine (and hope I never do!) what it must be like to be robbed! You are right that they are just material things but still...

    What a cool thing you are doing taking your books to your workplace. Love that letter! I've got probably 300 books in my classroom library that I'll be giving away in June when I retire and I'm looking forward to it!

    Take care and hope you have a better week this week!

  20. Since I am so fabulous about keeping up with my feed reader, I totally missed your post about your week's unfortunate events. So sorry to hear about the loss of your computer and your TV and everything. I'm glad to hear your pets escaped unscathed (physically, at least). My family used to own a small business that was once burglarized, and even that but doubt into our minds about our safety, so I can't imagine how it must be to have it happen in your own home. I hope everything gets back to normal as soon as possible and that you get your sense of security back.

    That said, it's very ironic that you're now enjoying a book about a thief, but hey, whatever works, right? ;-)

  21. I'm hesitant to make specific book recommendations unless I know the person really well, so I rarely do it for anyone outside my family. And I will almost never make them for people who aren't avid readers already. However, I would do the sort of thing you did with those books you took to work, and let people choose for themselves what might appeal to them.

    Glad the packing continues to go well, and that you've found a book to engage you right interesting choice, under the circumstances :-). I hope this week is a less exciting one, Wendy!

  22. Although I love writing reviews, I hate recommending books. I"m always afraid that someone will go out and buy the book, then hate it. Recommendations can be so subjective. I feel when I write reviews, I'm not telling anyone to buy or not buy a book. I'm just giving my opinions, but recommendations are a bit different.

  23. I just loved The Man Who Loved Books Too Much and found it endlessly entertaining. What I really loved about it was that it was like two separate stories that just melded so well into each other, and the book thief was just so out there to me! He actually believed that these books were meant for him to have, no matter that they did not belong to him!

    As far as recommending book to others, I am not very good at it. While I love to put my thoughts on books down on my blog, it's really hard for me to gauge whether or not someone is going to love a book or not. I usually use my husband as a guinea pig, but I am so not batting 100 there! I am just so bad at recommending for others!

  24. I get so very frustrated at my husband when it comes to suggesting books for him! The ones he actually breaks down and reads, he loves: The Maze Runner, Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour, Gone by Michael Grant - but every time I have another one I think he'll like, it's like pulling teeth to get him to read it, stinker!

    Glad you sound in good spirits after your ordeal - have a better week!

  25. It's always a challenge to me to recommend books to friends around me, since most of them don't read. After recommending a few to them, I realise it's not the books which they don't enjoy but it is the fact that they just don't have the interest/passion for reading, thus I leave it at that.

    I hope you have a great week ahead, Wendy!

  26. I'm never afraid to recommend books to friends and heck, even complete strangers!! I loved Robin Hobb's book...such a shame he didn't enjoy it. That email was wonderful!!!!

    Have a wonderful week!!

  27. I don't really recommend books either and always get really nervous when people ask me to recommend something to them. I go entirely blank and it's almost like I've never read a book--I just can't think of anything!

    My sister is currently reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close after I raved about it on my blog (but said several times it's not a book I would widely recommend). I felt bad when she told me she was struggling with the book, but now that she's further in we talk about the book almost every day. I love that.

    The only person I feel comfortable recommending books to is my dad, but he did look at me really strangely after he finished The Red Tent. I had forgotten some of the more "dramatic" elements of the book--figured he'd like it for the Biblical spin. Ha!

    Hope you have a great week, Wendy. The moving date is still tentative, yes?

  28. I'm so glad you were able to reach out to other reads and the are thanking you for it! I'm glad your husband liked An Abundance of Katherines too. He seemed to have the same thoughts regarding The Hunger Games trilogy that mine did, books were ok but doesn't understand all the hype. In fact, since my husband started to read last year, he hasn't yet found one book that he will rave about. The Passage has been his favorite, but everything else has just been ok.

  29. How wonderful that your book donations have inspired even a non-reader to enjoy a book!

  30. Glad you found a book you are enjoying! I LOVE recommending books to people. I do it all the time if I can. I actually gave a friend a list today of books I think she would enjoy. :)

    Unfortunately, my partner doesn't read very much, so I have never forced him in to anything. Sometimes he will read parts of what I am reading or ask about a book, but he doesn't make time for reading. It's sad, but true. He does watch TV, though, which tends to bore me to death!

  31. I too am hesitant to recommend books. There are a few people that I know either well or well enough that I do recommend books to them. They know me well enough to understand that my feelings will not be hurt if they do not like my recommendations!

    I'll have to go over and read Anjin's review of John Green's book. I love all three of the Green books that I've read.

    Glad to hear that you've made so many people happy where you work by donating books -- even some non readers :o)

  32. That is great that others in the office were able to appreciate the books too!

    I'm nervous about recommending books also. My mind tends to go blank. It's difficult thing to do well unless you really know the person you're giving the recommendation to, or as you said, unless they state what kind of books they like.

    My husband and your sound like they have a lot in common when it comes to their reading tastes. Mine had pretty much the same reaction to The Hunger Games.

  33. That's so great that you're taking the books into the office like that and that people who don't normally read are! I think its so awesome that your husband is such a reader too.

    I'm always leery about recommending books because just because I liked it doesn't mean someone else will. Usually all I'll say is I loved it although if I really loved it I'll go out on a limb and say so.

  34. It's really good that you've inspired a non-reader with your donation. I hardly recommend books mostly because I go blank when people asks but also I'm not surrounded by booklovers.

  35. After all you have been through in the past week and here you are giving your books away and generously giving recommendations. You are such a wonderful person Wendy!
    It's hard talking about books sometimes because either people love to read or hate it and don't read at all. I'm still finding out who is who at my new job. Hopefully I'll find a booklover out there.

  36. Linda - It's still no fun. :-(

    My mom was just telling me about all the books she gave away when she retired too. Three hundred is quite a lot of books! I'm sure the other teachers and whoever you give them to will appreciate them quite a bit.

    Megan - Thanks, Megan. I'm so sorry you and our parents had to go through something similar. It really takes a toll on a person, being violated like that.

    I'm sure it helped that the thief got caught. Although, I'm not sure he ever will stop . . .

    Florinda - I felt a little awkward recommending books to some of my colleagues who approached me. I never would have approached them on my own, I don't think. Like you, I prefer to recommend books to people I know well, if at all.

    The packing seems to be never ending, but I suppose it would since we're doing it in small increments.

    And fortunately this week was less exciting. Thank goodness! :-)

    Yvonne - I know what you mean, Yvonne. I know that we all have different preferences and just because I really like a book doesn't mean someone else will, but I don't want them to hate a book I recommend just the same!

  37. Zibilee (Heather) - I really enjoyed Bartlett's book too. Gilkey is such an interesting person. I couldn't bring myself to feel sorry for him though. He really had some issues there.

    I've noticed that a lot of people who are reading the books I donated are coming up to me to comment on the books. Many of them I don't remember all that well--or they are TBR books I lost interest in. I feel kind of bad about that. I do what I can though.

    Carrie - That's true with my husband too--about it being like pulling teeth to get him to read something I recommend. I shouldn't be too hard on him though as he does have his own TBR stack. LOL

    Melody - A person really has to be open to reading, I think. There are people at work who have no interest in books at all but others are more curious. I don't mind giving the curious ones a little nudge now and then.

    Staci - I'm glad to hear you enjoyed Robin Hobb's book! I keep reminding myself that he's a picky reader and I do tend to like more of what I read than he does of what he reads.

  38. Trish - That happens to me sometimes too--I suddenly forget everything I've read that I've loved. LOL

    I love being able to discuss books with others too. I'm so glad my husband finally finished The Hunger Game trilogy for that very reason.

    Yes, the move date is still tentative. At least for us. Several of our neighbors have already received their offers and are being told the city wants them out before the end of summer. I'm figuring it will be the same for us if that darned city guy ever returns his calls.

    Kris - I'm glad the books went over so well. I honestly hadn't expected that and thought just a handful of people would be interested. I almost want to give them the books I've set aside for my parents--but then I know my dad would be really disappointed. LOL

    One success I've had with my husband is getting him hooked on the Sue Grafton mysteries. He loves them. And Michael Connelly. He's farther along in both series than I am at this point!

    Kathleen - It really made my day, Kathleen!

    Kelly -I wish I had your confidence in recommending books to others!

  39. Terri - It's definitely easier to recommend books to certain people over others.

    Alyce - My mind goes blank when it comes to recommending books sometimes too. I'm getting braver in recommending books outside of my parents' usual comfort zone these days though which I think is good for both of us.

    Darlene - Admittedly my husband's being a reader is one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place. :-)

    I find I do that too--someone will ask me if liked a particular book and I'll give them a general response--either I loved it, liked it, etc. and not fill in the blanks unless they ask.

    Alice - I'm fortunate right now to be surrounded by booklovers and people with enough curiosity to at least give it a try. Tat hasn't always been the case in places I've worked. And there are those I wouldn't ever approach about bookish topics because I know they have no interest in reading or books.

    Jaimie - That's sweet of you to say, Jaimie! I'm just glad the books have found good homes.

    I hope you are able to find a book lover at your new job as well!

  40. I heard about your break-in. I'm glad you weren't hurt! The last book I recommended to my friends Paige and Kat was Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches. It's supposed to be the big book for 2011 and I loved it!


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