Bringing home a haul of new books for me still feels a little bit like I’m “getting away” with something. It feels like I’m sneaking in past curfew. Maybe it’s because the house is already stacked floor-to-ceiling with them and I’m seriously concerned that Sara may eventually begin to impose some rules.
All I know is that I’ve completely overwhelmed my bookshelves and the obsession doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon.
For some reason, I love shopping in airport bookstores. The fact that I’m probably on a time limit seems to make my decision about what to buy a bit more instinctual. Otherwise, I could spend all day staring at the shelves. If my flight is boarding, I have to go with my gut.
I always start by going into the store and looking for my own book — but I end up walking out with at least 2 more. I can forego almost every other purchase in my daily life. But with books, I can’t stop myself.
Or I won’t.
Contrary to popular wisdom, I actually do judge a book by it’s cover. I’m drawn to beautiful minimalist cover art with a clever twist, and my eyes almost always find their way to the subtitle before the main title.
That’s where all the good information can be found.
Next, I flip through the book and get a sense for it’s pacing, layout and overall heft.
Is this a book I’ll enjoy reading? Does it feel good in my hands?
I prefer softcover to hardcover. 250-400 pages is the sweet spot, depending on type size.
As I thumb through it briefly, I’ll pick out phrases and sentences, looking for things that catch my eye.
- Is it littered with facts and figures?
- If the book is “above my level,” are their diagrams to help elucidate tougher concepts?
- Is it written in short, punchy chapters? Or is it a winding yarn?
- What do I already know on the subject?
- Have I read this author or any of her contemporaries?
Reading a book is entering into a relationship. So I like to know what I’m getting into first.
Historically, I prefer non-fiction, history and philosophy books, but my tastes are beginning to change. I’m reading more fiction again. I forgot how good it is for my brain. It makes me more creative and it’s more fun than watching television.
Is the book popular? Has it won awards?
I don’t just focus on award-winning books. I like to look for more obscure books, too.
Oftentimes, that means reading deep into the source works at the end of books I’ve already finished, finding material that books I’m most interested in is based on. That helps me get to the essence of what’s being talked about.
Reading is my thing. I think that’s why I like writing so much.
Here are 6 books I’m looking forward to reading over the next few weeks:
- How to Write Short — by Roy Peter Clark
- Blood in the Water — by Heather Ann Thompson
- The Wisdom of Insecurity — by Alan Watts
- Thinking, Fast and Show — by Daniel Kahneman
- Being Mortal — by Atul Gawande
- The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared — by Jonas Jonasson
I’ve cracked a few of them open, but they are still largely untouched in my house. Check these out and tell me which ones catch your eye.