Ha. That was a little like a quarterback fake. Because I don’t really intend to recommend a book to you, I’m going to tell you how I decide what I read, and how.
First, I’ll try to explain the quarterback fake. Fakename explaining anything about (American) football is a little like Fakename explaining nuclear physics. Except I know a little more about football.
There are two ways to advance the ball down the field to the goal, which is either by running it or passing it. A play always starts with the quarterback who more or less makes the decision of which to do. It’s the job of the defensive team to be prepared for either one. So a quarterback fake occurs when the quarterback appears to hand the ball off to a runner, but instead retains the ball and passes it. This only succeeds when the QB has sufficient speed and stealth to pull it off, and/ or when the defensive team is sufficiently tired or inattentive enough not to catch it.
So please don’t be offended. My QB fake was in the service of humor.
So where do I get book recommendations? In no particular order:
1. The library. During fallow periods when none of my other sources have come up with anything that I’m particularly excited about, I just cruise the library, like an Orca searching for a seal. That’s how I came up with “The Lost City of Z”, which turned out to be a jewel of a book that I would never have known about if not for the library.
2. The Book Page. This a free monthly publication you can get at the library (and I think you can subscribe too), which does book reviews. The Book Page is the reason I now have, sitting in my car, a book called “Every Day, Every Hour”, and for the life of me I can’t remember why I wanted it. But the publication has given me many other unfailingly good ideas, such as “The Snow Child”.
3. NPR. This is probably my number one source. I often hear author interviews there and become intrigued. This is why I just finished “The Odyssey of KP2”, about an orphaned monk seal. I’m usually a sucker for books about animals.
4. My book club. I’m a member of a branch of a real book club, which we whimsically refer to as “The Long-Distance Book Club”. There is a real book club in Virginia. One of its members is a high school classmate of ours, so a very small group of us got together and formed a group that works via email, and a blog we set up for discussion. Often the books we read I’ve never heard of, and/or are books I would never have read except for the (voluntary) requirement to read them. One per month. So without that group, I would never have read “The Night Circus”. Truly a startling and imaginative book.
5. My sister. She is an inveterate reader too, although we don’t always agree on what is a “good” book. But as we speak, I’m reading a book she recommended. “Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus”. And it’s mesmerizing. It takes the history of rabies from the first known writings about it and their explanations for it (quite amusing from the vantage point of the present), to cultural depictions of what were probably rabies victims in book and film (it’s thought that vampires and werewolves grew out of early observations of real victims) to Louis Pasteur’s successful creation of the first vaccine and his first use of it in a human being. And that’s only half the book–which is where I am now.
My next book will be a novel called “The Dog Stars”. How do I know of this book? From NPR. Maybe one day I will get around to “Every Day, Every Hour”. Or not.