Lauren In Tokyo

Friday, June 08, 2007

Where have all the books gone?

I have two main ways that I pick books to read. The first is to pick a book that I've either always wanted to read (Grapes of Wrath) or one that I have been recommended (Future Shock).

The other method of book selection is to look at Amazon's bestsellers list and pick up something that looks interesting or different. This way I can keep up with the current zeitgeist without much effort.

But I just can't find anything that I want to read on the list anymore. I'm not interested in Harry Potter. I am not up for giving Khaled Hosseini another chance after his mediocre Kite Runner. I'm not trying to lose weight or get rich quick. The politically charged books don't hold any spell on me. And the novels all look to be more of the same dreck that lines the airport magazine racks than the next great thing.

The one book that does seem to be a step above the others is Hitchens' God is Not Great. It isn't the subject matter that excites me (Dawkins makes me want to tear my eyes out). It is the pure writing ability and literacy of Hitchens that makes his work stand out.

But it's only one book in a list of 100. I can't possibly save any money ordering one book, so I will have to make due re-reading something that I already own.

Which is fine with me. I need to save some money anyway.


  • I pick books to read the same way I decide what to eat. First I decide what I have a taste for, then I browse the selection (reading random paragraphs), if the colour and sampling seems to agree with me, then I pick the book.

    I rarely read books others recommend.

    By Blogger Richard, at 6:02 AM  

  • When I lived in Seattle, I did the same. Walking over to the Bellevue B&N was easy and I typically had a lot of time to browse. Even if I went in with no idea what I was interested in, I could always head towards the either Fiction or History or Computer Science for some ideas.

    Here in Japan it's not quite that easy. First, there just aren't that many English books available for perusal. Second, the closest bookstore that would be of any use is a 45 minute train ride away with at least one change of trains.

    I was back in Seattle a couple weeks ago and picked up a dozen books that I've been meaning to read. None of them are new releases (most are what would be called "classics", though they are mostly just "old").

    I like using the Best Seller list at Amazon as a barometer of the current zeitgeist and pick off any books that seem of interest to me (thereby becoming a contributor to the zeitgeist). I just don't see anything on there lately that is particularly interesting to me personally.

    By Blogger Lauren Smith, at 11:14 AM  

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