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What to read next? It’s probably one of the most exciting and frustrating questions a reader can ask.  It’s a tough question.  Tougher still if you are a discerning reader looking for something new and interesting. 

Though I like a good mind candy, beach read book as much as the next person, I’m a little more demanding when it comes to “good reads.” If it’s currently on the NYT bestseller list (Harry Potter being the exception), I don’t read it.  If I see more than two people on the subway reading, I skip it.  If it’s in the top 100 on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, I’ll pass.  A good website for fiction for the anti-masses is bas bleu though they have been known to be very wrong (the Hazards of Good Breeding and Lucy are two notable examples). 

The safest bet is to ask other reader friends.  Reading is an experience made more enjoyable by sharing.  The simple phrase “You gotta read this!” makes what is necessarily a solitary activity suddenly a social one.  It’s the one thing guaranteed to drag us – hard core readers that is – out of our shells.  We hold up our titles like recent travellers with a photo album.  We want others to read – to see what we saw and to live what we lived.

Still, reading recommendations are tricky.  Books, like vacation destinations, may not be experienced the same by everyone.  It’s such an intimate sharing that agreement can bring two people closer.  But admitting that you didn’t like someone’s treasured volume can often be like telling them their baby is ugly.

To avoid any such issues, I generally accept recommendations from only a select number of people. Surprisingly my circle of reading friends is  quite small. My novel reading friends are even fewer in number.  Essentially it’s Jesse, Eric and my Mom.  But these three are more valuable than any 100 Oprah book fans (sorry, couldn’t resist).  Their tastes are broad, they’re discriminating and most important, they know what I like. 

Which doesn’t mean we always agree.  Eric didn’t like The Stolen Child.  Because I read his brief review before purchasing this book my experience was certainly colored by his comments.  In the end, however, while I agree with his assessment, I enjoyed the book despite the critique.

Of course, I’m obsessed with faeries so how could I not?

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