How do you find new books?

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Cassi
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How do you find new books?

Postby Cassi » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:28 pm UTC

I work in a library and help with book ordering, and read quite a lot myself. So I am always on the lookout for new books, but sometimes I wonder if I'm missing any obvious sources of finding them! For myself I go off recommendations from friends and amazon, or books that have reviews from authors I like. Or sometimes I just browse amazon in the hopes of finding something that catches my eye.

It's a bit more difficult for work, since (as tempting as it sometimes is!) I can't just fill the shelves with the types of books I read...so I go off fantasticfiction.co.uk and look at popular books, or recommendations based on books I know issue well. We have Who Else Writes Like...? but I tend to find it a pretty pointless resource most of the time...

So does anyone have any inspired ways of finding new books? Or are we all muddling through and probably missing out on loads of amazing things?
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby Zohar » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:03 pm UTC

Pretty much what you said - recommendations from friends or blogs and such. A lot of the time if I particularly enjoy a book, I will binge-read that author. This happened with Gaiman, Asimov, Dianna Wynn Jones, Jonathan Carrol, Kurt Vonnegut and more.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby Eseell » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:28 pm UTC

Mostly recommendations here, as well. Almost all of my friends are readers so I'm not short on things that they all think I should be reading. I also use Goodreads, but it's more to keep up with what my friends are reading and less for the recommendations.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby ahammel » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:32 pm UTC

I browse nomination lists on wikipedia a fair bit, with mixed results. I like this guy's podcast, and I've had a couple of good recommendations that way. I've thought about book clubs as a way to get me to read stuff I wouldn't have otherwise, but never actually done it. The odd reading challenge serves the same purpose.

I've used Goodreads' recommendation facility as well, but it usually spits out recommendations along the lines of "you read a book by a Japanese person, here's a bunch more books by Japanese persons".
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Cassi
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby Cassi » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:12 pm UTC

I've actually just started using Goodreads today, because I thought maybe I should try actually looking at how much I am reading for a while, because I genuinely have no idea these days. My reading has been falling into a mixture of books I am interested in myself, and books I am kind of interested in but am mainly reading to see if they are worth buying at work.

Is anyone a member of a book club? I've kind of considered it before but I 1) don't know how you find a book club and 2) feel I would possibly be considerably younger than the majority of members...
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby ahammel » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:52 pm UTC

Goodreads itself is a book club option if you'd like a virtual one. I tried to start a book club on the xkcd fora a few months ago and failed horribly.

My sigoth is a member of one through her work. It might be worth floating the idea there, depending on where you work.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby Metaphysician » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:17 am UTC

I have a lot of well read friends all of whom have different tastes in books so I mostly read things they recommend to me. I also strike out on my own every once in a while. I discovered George R.R. Martin while chatting with an employee at Barnes and Noble that had similar taste to me and she recommended Game of Thrones. Neal Stephenson I discovered because Snow Crash was mentioned in some T.V. show I was watching so I decided to check it out. Sometimes a book just jumps off the shelf at me and I pick it up and read a couple paragraphs. I almost never buy a book without reading a couple paragraphs at least.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby b.i.o » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:59 am UTC

Amazon used to give me recommendations, but they've basically run out of things to recommend to me. Amazon is still very useful for finding out about new books from authors I've read though.

Goodreads is occasionally useful, but I've found the recommendation engine to be almost useless. Somewhat more useful are the lists of books people have compiled, but I feel like they could be doing a ton of useful things with their data that they're not. (And their API has a 1 request/second limit, which is little enough that I think it'd be hard to do interesting things.) Also the UI makes me angry, so I don't use it regularly anymore.

Recommendations from friends are usually good, although most of my friends don't read enough to give me recommendations.

One last thing I do when I have some free time is go trawling through the bigger subreddits related to the genres I want to read. This takes a bit of time but generally yields pretty good results.

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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby tendays » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:34 pm UTC

I didn't know you worked at a library :) I guess it's been too long since I tried to follow what xkcders are doing.

Anyway I actually came here to say that I find new books by going to the library, spending a good hour reading the back covers. I usually end up with a dozen books I'd like to read and pick a couple I actually buy. That's a wonderful past time.

But of course if you actually work at a library that advice is not exactly helpful :(
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby Cassi » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:40 pm UTC

Max, long time no see! :) Don't worry, I've not really been around/talking about my life recently all that much, so I doubt you actually missed that much there. :P

Maybe I should go for browsing a book store instead, though we don't have any big ones around...
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby Guu » Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:36 pm UTC

In addition to the already mentioned sources (recommendations, internet, TV, book store...) I also like to "browse" the public bookshelf of my town for some interesting books(bonus: the books are free :) ). Also, clicking my way through wikipedia helped a great deal in finding authors or books related to certain topics or cultures.
Films may work, too, as many are based on books (e.g. Blade Runner, No Country for Old Men or K-Pax etc.), and of course, Nobel Prize-lists and 100 Classic Books-lists, if that's your style^^.

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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby EchoRomulus » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:51 am UTC

The best way to find new books in my opinion is to go to garage sales and thrift stores. There is always a pile of them somewhere for a couple bucks. #cheaper than porn #I know this isn't Twitter don't yell at me.

I grabbed a complete collection of Sherlock Holmes with the original illustrations in a beautiful red hardcover and no graffiti on the copyright page for $1.50 at an estate sale.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby emceng » Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:43 pm UTC

Do you have a genre you enjoy? I can recommend some things in sci-fi/fantasy and non-fiction.

For me though, I have an excel doc on my desktop. Whenever I see a recommendation, or a blurb about a book that sounds interesting, it goes on the list.

I also copy lists I see online. Like NPR did 'top 50 sci-fi books', or 'reader's choice of top books of all time' or whatever. Copy that list to a document, delete the ones I have read or have zero interest in. Then go from the top.

Also, check out websites of authors you enjoy. Some authors have blogs, and many times they are asked about their favorites. So you can dig through their list for ideas. Offhand Gaiman, Haldeman, and Rothfuss come to mind for sci-fi/fantasy.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby MyGfsDog » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:44 pm UTC

I find it difficult to get into new authors, especially on my own. I pretty much have to get a strong recommendation from someone I know and trust. If I read every book my mom suggested to me, I'd want to blow my brains out. I only listen to close friends or other comic creators who have a similar taste in storytelling as I do. Other than that, I mainly just re-read things I know I love, or stick within one particular writer's catalog.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby fropa » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:18 pm UTC

whenever i really like an author i spend some time reading about their personal lives and which authors the enjoy and then i read those authors. i think the first really good author i loved was nabokov, and his literary criticism lead me to james joyce, and james joyce has lead me to ibsen, and that's who i'm reading right now

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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby bessie » Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:02 am UTC

fropa wrote:whenever i really like an author i spend some time reading about their personal lives and which authors the enjoy and then i read those authors. i think the first really good author i loved was nabokov, and his literary criticism lead me to james joyce, and james joyce has lead me to ibsen, and that's who i'm reading right now


I agree with this completely. When I like an author, I find out who they admire and who has influenced their writings, and I read those books. I also discover authors because they write about the same books I like.

My husband reads the New York Times book reviews every week and he occasionally buys me books he thinks sound interesting. I have actually found a lot of good books this way, and they are not usually books I would have bought myself.

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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby Cecily » Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:16 pm UTC

I'm another fan of www.goodreads.com - but not its recommendation engine. Instead, I've built up a network of friends with similar taste and joined some of the themed groups. I have read all sorts of things I would not otherwise have read, and most of them were good.

It's a great site, and the quality of reviews is generally high, but it does take time and effort to get much out of it: you need to build up your own virtual shelves, write reviews, comment on reviews and so one. It took me several months.

However, I find the process of writing reviews (not compulsory; you can just give star ratings) really worthwhile in its own right: I read more carefully and appreciatively, plus I have a resource to refer to when I'm trying to remember details.

There is a lot of controversy there at the moment because GR, which has been bought by Amazon, has bowed to pressure from some authors (mostly self-published YA writers) who objected to negative reviews. As a result, GR has actually deleted ones deemed defamatory or purely about the author's behaviour rather than the book itself. Despite that (and perhaps because I've not been directly affected), I still find it an excellent site.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby fuzzbucket » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:37 am UTC

Forums like this are great, I see a lot of new titles this way.
Browsing bookdepository is great too, haha.

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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby Envelope Generator » Fri Mar 21, 2014 9:30 am UTC

I use Librarything mostly, eavesdropping on interesting discussion groups and users. The automatic recommendation is pretty good too.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Apr 04, 2014 7:19 pm UTC

I go to the library and pick books up and read the cover text. Or browse the selection at Goodwill or other used book places.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby Whizbang » Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:22 pm UTC

I troll the free/cheap e-books on Amazon. There are, of course, a lot of duds, but there are also some indy writers that, although coarse and in need of serious proof-reading, venture out in directions that mainstream editors would never publish, or at least be unlikely to publish. I don't know why, but I like the unpolished feel of these books. Also, I like that my money (usually the freebies are to get you hooked so you buy the sequels or other books by the author) goes directly to the author, with only Amazon taking a cut. The problem with this method is that it is hard to find good free/cheap e-books. Amazon sorts them by popularity, which leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of scenario, where popular books get read and voted on, making them more popular, and so on. So, popular books stay at the top of the list, while newer, less popular books are much harder to find.

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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby KrytenKoro » Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:43 pm UTC

Hearing about them on a TVtropes dive.
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Re: How do you find new books?

Postby tarascon » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:54 pm UTC

Imo, reading is a fractal sort of thing; the more you read, the list of potential books to read grows and branch out. Example, when I was a teen I read Henry Miller's trilogies* and he'd make constant references to his favorite authors. I noted these authors and sought them out--sometimes it took years to actually find the books (like the art criticism of Eli Faure). That's how I came to read writers like Knut Hamsun and Louis-Ferdinand Céline (I think). And reading them led me to other writers. It's a bit like six degrees of separation.
Back in the day, as a young autodidact, when there were more bookstores in the world, I would spend hours systematically looking at each and every book on the shelf (or at least the spines) and pull out the titles that appealed to me.
Also, when I read something nonfiction, I always read the end-notes and check the bibliographies and then seek out those sources.

* The Rosy Crucifixion and the Tropic of Cancer series.
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