The Oregon Book Report - Book News from Oregon

How to pick a truly great book

September 30, 2009

By Erika Weisensee,
Milwaukie book lover

Take it from an avid reader and member of two book clubs, there are a lot of great books out there. When I turn the last page and read the last words of a really good book, I am always sad that the experience is over. On the flip side, it is really disappointing to commit your time to a book that drones on—a book that by page 50 makes you wonder, “Why am I reading this? Will it get any better?”

So how do you choose a great book? Well, it’s easier than you think, but don’t just rely on best sellers lists and book reviews. Here are some ideas for finding literary magic:

– Visit small, independent bookstores and talk to the employees about their favorite books. Like the small corner hardware store, employees at the little neighborhood bookshop know a lot about their merchandise. Talk to them about your own literary taste, and by all means, ask for their recommendations.

– Talk to librarians.  Librarians not only know good books, they also know which books are popular with patrons. Librarians can also fill you in on new titles, award winners, classics worth going back to, and a whole lot more.

– Find out what book clubs are reading. If you like to read and have the time, I recommend joining a book club. Being able to discuss books with people you enjoy adds to the satisfaction of reading. But if you don’t have the time, find out what book clubs are reading. Many libraries and bookstores like Barnes and Noble sponsor book clubs and publicize their titles. Ask friends who are book club members and search online.

– Word of mouth. While I have certainly learned about new, interesting books from reading reviews in newspapers, I think the best book reviews are the ones your friends and family give you. So, ask other people what they are reading and find out why they can’t stop turning the pages.

Happy Reading!

### Erika teaches writing, journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.

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Discuss this article

mimi September 30, 2009

I used to have an hour commute. I used the time to listen to “books on tape”. I picked books that I would never have picked up otherwise, thus forcing my self to broaden my reading beyond my usual realm.

I use the library a great deal, but I never buy a book until I have read it and am sure I want to have it in my own library.

Kay September 30, 2009

Do you purposely buy books that would generally not interest you just to see if you are missing something, or do you suggest we all find what we like and stay with it?

Cora September 30, 2009

My son was never much of a reader until I took him to Powell’s. There was something about the mystery of the levels and aisles that really spurred his interest to dig in and find a good book.

Suz September 30, 2009

Is there a book I can get on picking books?

Ally September 30, 2009

Finding a favorite author or two also helps.

LaRayne September 30, 2009

Books and book stores are wonderful aren’t they. I have a friend who works at a book store and I’m a bit jealous. A friends little boy will share and give up his toys, but won’t let go of any of his books. Wise child.

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