What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

14 March 2017


In the course of a recent Facebook conversation, I mentioned that when it comes to book recommendations, I have a list more or less called, "Burn at midnight any books recommended by these folks." (The conversation was technically about the current crop of movie boycotts, which I don't understand at all. If you're that desperate to boycott movies, why not just choose another hobby?)

Does everyone have a ranking system for their friends and book (or movie, or TV, or whatever) recommendations? I can't imagine not having some way of sifting through all the book titles people throw at me on a daily basis. (Occupational hazard--and extraordinary benefit--of being the "book person" in basically all my circles.) By the way, if you are one of the people who regularly throws book titles at me, please don't stop just because of this post. After all, you're probably not on the "Burn it at midnight" list.

I do know these categories sound a bit judgy, but see above--I have to have something to sort through the volume of books people tell me to read. Also, I always presume that I'm on someone else's No Way No How list--probably several someones--which is why I don't feel bad about having a sorting method and sharing it with the world. That's the way of personal preference--what I love, someone else will hate, and vice versa. So do take this with many grains of salt and in a spirit of good humour.

My shelf of unread books. Many of them are ones
I'm currently reading. The Pratchett book I can't
bring myself to read yet, because it's his last one
and I'm still in denial.

5. Burn it at midnight. Drive a stake through its heart. Chant something, just to be sure.
Folks who have given me non-stop bad recommendations, folks whose taste in other forms of entertainment is so opposite from mine that I do not trust their judgment, and folks who annoy the living daylights out of me so that I just can't hear a recommendation from them, all land on this list. For as all-encompassing as those descriptions sound, it's actually a pretty short list, and since it's a one-way trip I don't put anyone in this category lightly.

4. Highly suspicious.
This list is "burn at midnight" lite--maybe they've given me some bad recs or maybe they told me once that Lord of the Rings is really boring, or similar offences that lead me to believe we do not like the same things when it comes to reading. If I get a recommendation from someone on this list, I look for confirmation from someone who is not Highly Suspicious before I put it on the to-read list.

I have a couple of litmus test books that will send someone straight to Highly Suspicious, should the titles thereof cross their lips in my presence unaccompanied by the words "I hated that book."

3. Go ahead.
People who clearly aren't recommending terrible books, so they aren't suspicious, but who maybe haven't quite got the hang of suiting the recommendation to the reader. If they liked it, I'll add it to my to-read list. If they loved it, I'll put it in the top 100 on my to-read list.

Another of my bookshelves. I've read
all these. Well, except the French-
English dictionary.
2. Trusted advisor.
This list is remarkably easy to get on--just two or three really solid recommendations will do it. People who ask me often for book recs tend to end up on this list, partly because if they trust me that much I can at least show the same courtesy, and also because if they keep asking me we probably like a lot of the same things.

Books from these folks go straight to the top 20 of my to-read list, which is where I look when I'm putting a batch of books on hold at the library. (The list is numbered, because that's how Goodreads is set up, but I don't generally read in strict Goodreads order. I look at the top 20-30 and choose five or so that match my reading mood.)

1. Read it right away.
If my reading list were a music festival, these are the folks with the Platinum badges. If it were a Broadway show, they'd be allowed in stage door. If it were a movie premiere, they're on the red carpet. If I need a good book in a hurry, I ask these folks, and they never disappoint. These are the only people whose recommendation could theoretically overrule someone from the "Burn it at midnight" list (although I will add that's never, ever happened). And it's no coincidence that these are book lovers who recommend in much the same way that I do--with great care, consideration, and warning labels when warranted.

If someone on this list--and it's a longer list than you'd think!-- recommends me a book, I put it on hold at the library the same day without bothering to consult Goodreads. I usually have it read within a couple weeks. There are some exceptions, but that is my MO for my best reading buddies.

I know I'm not the only one with mental lists--how do you sort through the things other people suggest that you read/watch/listen to?


Crystal Collier said...

LOL. I don't rate people and their recommendations. I actually will read any author a first time (minus specific genres), but they have a two book limit. If I really don't like the books/writing, that's it. They're done. On recommendations though, I've read widely enough to know that we really are unique in our reading preferences. It's so subjective.

Su Wilcox said...

Your two-book limit is pretty generous--I give them 50 pages.