Get to a Bookstore!
This past weekend I spent about three hours browsing around my neighborhood Borders. I try to do this once every couple of months at least – not just make a quick trip to the bookstore, but spend a good deal of time there. As writers and publishing professionals, we all need to get to the bookstore regularly. Each time I go, I learn something new or have some kind of a revelation about books and publishing. And each time I go, I remember why I wanted to get into publishing in the first place.
Writers are always asking about trends in publishing, but the best way to get a feel for what’s happening right now is to see what’s on the shelves. Yes, those books were all written and acquired a year or two years ago (or more). But it’s still helpful to understand what’s happening today.
I took my time browsing. I opened books and read. I paid attention to what made me pick up a book, and I paid attention to what made me put it in my “buy” pile or add it to the “buy someday” list I keep in my Blackberry. Was it the title? Cover? Back cover or flap copy? First few pages? I find I choose different books when I’m standing in the bookstore than when I’m shopping on Amazon, and this is one of the reasons it’s so important for me to get out there. Usually I’m looking for something specific on Amazon, but in the bookstore, I’m open to anything that catches my eye. What a great way to expand our reading horizons!
I really want you to make an effort to hang out in a bookstore for a few hours at a time, several times a year. It’s best if there is comfortable seating. I collect a stack of books, then go sit in the cafe and open them up. Often I’ll get so engrossed that I’ll read two or three chapters just sitting there! Then I know I want the book. Sometimes I read enough that I feel I don’t need to buy it after all. Anyway, it’s just loads of fun!
Here are a few books that captured my attention this time:
by Tony Schwartz
by Ann Brashares
by Philip Gulley
by Lev Grossman
by Katherine Howe
by Geneen Roth
Q1: Have you read any of these, and if so, what are your thoughts?
Q2: What books have captured your attention lately?
Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
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Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.
>Oooh! I've heard great things about The Magician. I must pick that up.
>I carve time out of my week to get into the bookstore and see what is out there. Especially love the second hand stores, the books have more character. Sometimes I wonder who has held the book before me, if they book was exactly what they needed. I love the book Women, Food and God. I highly recommend it.
>Interesting post. I love to do the same thing however 2 things usually stop me:
1. There's never any empty chairs in the Starbucks attached to the bookstore; and
2. The bookstore is an hour drive from where we live so hubby is usually with me.
One of my first posts when I started my blog was about this same experience, except with hubby sitting in the van waiting while I 'researched'. I tried to infuse my post with humour much along the lines of Leslie Neilsen's Airplane! movie. Between the 2 blogs I cross-posted it on, I rec'd some humorous comments from others who had similar experiences with spouses and bookstores. (Sharon, you're blessed.)
But, back to your questions… No, I haven't read any of those.
I finished reading Linda Windsor's The Healer yesterday morning and can't forget it. Even keep reaching for it before I realize what I'm doing. It could be because I don't usually read the genre. Or, it could be because I like to escape into Arthurian stories.
>Thank you for taking my "guilt trip" out of visits to the book store. Research. Thats exactly what we are doing. Although I am one of the lucky ones. Husband likes to visit book stores also.
>I like this. I do the same thing, and sometimes kick myself when I haven't done it enough. I'm a writer, and always find it useful to browse, see what the rest of my peers are producing, and what is getting front-listed.
It doesn't make me race home to rewrite my book proposal, but I take it all in, keep it in mind over time.
>I recently read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane for my book club and LOVED it. Howe's descriptions were almost hypnotic and I could not stop reading. I particularly enjoyed the assortment of mother/daughter relationships that transcended time. Another book that recently caught my attention and that I thoroughly enjoyed was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Great novel set in 1963 Jackson, Miss.
>What a fun thing to do! I am definitely going to visit bookstores more often, just as you suggest. The titles you found are all very intriguing. Thanks, Rachelle!
>I love, love a bookstore. My biggest treat when visiting my granddaughters is taking them to Books A Million and spending time looking, feeling, reading and smelling all the wonderful books. They love it and it is our special thing to do together.
I like the idea of paying attention to why you would pick up a book and why you would want to buy it. Hmmm. Sounds like I need a trip to Barnes and Noble today.
>I'm a confessed bookaholic that needs to limit visits to my local bookstore. Both my living room and home office have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that are full. I'm eyeing food cabinets in the kitchen for possible shelf space. My dyslexic husband thinks I'm nuts.
I just started "Women, Food and God." I purchased it because of an Anne Lamott blurb on the back cover. Maybe after I read it, I will forego some shelf space in the kitchen.
My most recent favorite read is "Churched" by Mathew Paul Turner. As a recovering Lutheran, I found it to be hilarious. I just ordered "Hear No Evil."
>I saw "Women, Food and God" in a small book kiosk during a short weekend away over the Memorial Day holiday. I've put it on my TBR list.
>Browsing through a book store is my idea of a fun outing and my first choice on a rainy day.
I heard the author of Menonite in a Little Black Dress being interviewed on the radio the other day and that made me think about getting the book.
>I'm commenting on Tesiquin's comment. I too really like the YA fantasy genre. It's generally not so dark and the stories not so convoluted as the adult ones. I'm also a bit sick of Vampires, hence the YA fantasy novel I've just written ( the first of a series of 4) has demons instead of Vampires.
I love the Mortal Instrucments series too. I think it's my favourite at the moment and strangely, even though I had already written my novel when I read it, there are some similarities in that there are warriors fighting demons.
If anyone is interested they can read ch 1 of my novel on the 'Lethal Inheritance' page at 'http://publishersearch.wordpress.com
>THE MAGICIANS is actually the best book I've read all year so far. I reviewed it here: http://fierceandnerdy.com/dear-thursday-the-magicians-by-lev-grossman-book-14-of-2010
>I do the exact same thing. Except I take notes on some sort of paper, since my Motorola Razr isn't much good for that sort of thing.
My girls and I helped a teacher clean out her classroom today, and she gave me a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card as a thank-you. MY FAVORITE GIFT EVER.
>I'm reading THE MAGICIANS, which is great adult fantasy.
There's so much YA out there, it's refreshing.
>That's dangerous! The more time I spend in a bookstore directly correlates to a declining balance in my bank account!
>The downfall of my checkbook. Barnes and Noble. I went this weekend in Kansas City and spent $80. straight-away.
Bought the latest Reacher(Lee Child) novel, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, and a couple others.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was translated from the Swedish version so the names are uncomfortable on the tongue, the writing is quite different than the average murder mystery, but story is compelling and I can't put it down.
>I'm reading the Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth. I hadn't heard of it before but the title intrigued me because I had no idea what it meant,
>A book I read recently was "The Tavernier Stones" by Stephen Parrish. A great book combined with a real life diamond hunt.
>I am another one who likes to see what people pick up and peruse at the bookstore, particularly in the genre I write. Every once in a while I hear people discussing books they like/dislike, and why.
It's really great first-hand information, almost like rankings and recommendations on Amazon, only in person!
>I tend to be one of those people who will pick up a book for its cover. That Katherine Howe book is exactly something I'd check out. Guess we do judge by covers sometimes, eh?
>THE MAGICIANS was AWESOME. I plan to read it again.
I disagree with the commenter(s) who said it fell apart at the end. It didn't fall apart — it just didn't take off like fantasies conventionally do. And that was the POINT of the book. Finding meaning and happiness when life doesn't treat you like you're special. Magic school does not equal happiness. The author recognized it, and explored its implications thematically and metaphorically.
It's an adult book, for sure. Lots of wonderful references to The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter and how that applies to grown-ups in "real life."
>A bookstore browsing day is about the best day I can imagine, partly because bookstores are a rare commodity where I live. I haven't read any of the books mentioned, so I feel distinctly un-literary.
A couple of my favorites from recent reads are THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett and TALLGRASS by Sandra Dallas.
>On my immediate wish list:
The Hunger Games
Also, I wanted to buy a good marketing book for promoting my debut novel. Anyone know of a good one?
I have been into books that assist me in mentoring my tween aged daughters. The most recent that I loved is "Parenting Beyond your Capacity" by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof. I love books with practice advice you can really USE! I am launching a year long project today, as a result of this book! There are so many great reads out there! I just can't get enough – and I adore book stores too! Mostly look for books that will teach my children about faith and science!
Thanks for asking!
>I'm fortunate enough to live close to a number of stellar bookstores. I try not to visit more than once a week though, as I always end up buying a new book (or two, or three) and already have so many unread books at home.
I pay attention to not only what catches my eye, but what other customers pick up. I write kid's fiction. I love it when a kid is sprawled out in front of the kid's section with six books on the floor around him or her, obviously trying to narrow it down to just the one that mom or dad is willing to buy. I remember those days!
I haven't read "The Way We're Working Isn't Working" but it's definitely on my list. Tony Schwartz, the author, has a number of posts up at Huffington Post that are fantastic. He's also well worth following on Twitter.
>I usually end up buying books for my daughter when I hit a bookstore these days. Lately I've been preferring my books on Kindle or from the library. I like the books you've selected here. I especially like the look of "My Name is Memory".
>I love Ann Brashares– that must be a new one!
>I have read the Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. I enjoyed it for the most part, but I was looking for something more in terms of the story line and how the witch aspect would really come into play.
I loved the cover and the binding. I also liked the way the page ends seemed ragged. Those were the primary things that called me to the book. I read the first chapter and liked it, so I bought it.
I don't regret it, but it didn't live up to what I was expecting.
>Only once every two months? I go to Borders almost EVERY WEEKEND since they e-mail great coupons if you join–for free! Love to see what's hot, what's not, what's on the center displays. Also love to people watch and see who buys what. Very educational–new books arrive and change all the time. Let's keep bookstores in biz and buy!
>I definitely shop differently at a bookstore as opposed to Amazon. I go to Amazon to buy, with specific titles in mind. I go to a bookstore to browse, and sometimes I buy.
The title and cover often lead me to pick up a book. Some titles really turn me off. Is it just me, or do many titles feel completely overdone nowadays? It must work, because publishers keep doing it. Titles like: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (which another commenter mentioned). I'm sure it's an excellent book, but that title just doesn't appeal to me. Same goes for books with "society", "club", "creek", etc. And titles that are just too darn long. It's just a pet peeve of mine. I can't explain it.
I also think that I live outside the market a bit. I was in a book club for about a year, and my readers always wanted to read whatever was on the bestseller lists. Many of them I just couldn't get into. And they didn't like the stuff I wanted to read.
I recently purchased Rock Paper Tiger, obviously due to Nathan Bransford! And it's not a genre I normally read. But I read the first few pages on Amazon and I was really sad that I then had to wait for it to ship.
>From the product description of If the Church Were Christian: “Many Christians might be surprised to discover how little Jesus had to say about the church, and that he might never have intended to start a new religion” (emphasis mine). Isn’t that akin to saying that Jesus didn’t know what he was doing here? If that’s not enough, within the first few paragraphs the author starts picking apart the Bible debating which verses are inspired and which are not. In another book, Philip Gulley states, “I believe God will save every person”, by which he rejects the biblical description of God as Holy. That is not what Jesus taught. So I’ll pass on this one. I’m all for churches returning to the teachings of Jesus, but not to teachings like this that are the spirit of anti-christ.
>This is so true. It is something that tends to be taken for granted but I could spend hours and hours just browsing. Now you make me want to find a sitter and head to the bookstore.
>I just finished a novel I'll keep nameless for the author's sake, but was very disappointed. The cover was magnificent and immediately drew my attention, the back copy was intriguing and the first chapter mesmerizing. But after the first chapter, the book slowly lost direction and there was no motivation for the character, so I wasn't completely sure what the story was about besides everyday life in 1852.
I just picked up "The Unfinished Gift" by Dan Walsh. The first page touched my heart and I'm captivated as I turn page after page.
Thankfully my DH is a book-a-holic as well, so we spend hours in bookstores both new and used. It's a lovely "date" 🙂
>I spend 12 – 30 hours a week in my local bookstore. And no, I don't work there, LOL. A big part of that time is sitting in the cafe and writing, but… I know the stock better than the workers.
>I love walking through the aisles of a bookstore. I'm blessed because I have one about a mile from my house, and I go there a lot. I don't always buy but I look and put the names of the books on my list.
Haven't read any of these but they look interesting.
>Pre-kids my husband and I regularly had dates at the bookstore – hours of just browsing. It was our favorite thing to do. I miss those days! I've been wanting to read if the church were christian too.
>I just picked up The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephani Meyer yesterday and am half way through it. Of course, I chose this book because I enjoyed the first four.
I also got The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner because the cover flap. The story sounds so different and interesting.
I read Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater because I was on one of my book store treks. I gathered a pile of books that looked interesting based on the cover flap and cover art and then found a cozy chair and read the first chapter of each book. Shiver was one that stayed. Now, I'm waiting for Linger.
Yes, I love my book store treks! My 9 & 5 year old daughters love it too!
>I haven't read any of those books…some look interesting.
Right now I'm busy working my way through all the decent fantasy in our library. My dad just got me started on the Recluce series by L. E. Modesit Jr., and I also can't wait to get the next in the Warriors series by Erin Hunter.
Oh yes, and I can't forget the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. I love 'em!
>My favorite place in the world is a bookstore. It is such a psychic refuge for me. The feel of the covers between my fingers, and the excitement of what is inside! My husband however, dislikes my love…lots of heavy boxes=a pain to move.
I have my eye too on Women, Food, and God. The author was on Oprah not to long ago. Unfortunately I am #27 on the list at the library!
Another I would really like to own, for purposes of underlining I am sure, is Wild Comfort.
Cheers to my favorite activity! Perusing a bookstore…I get more relaxed and peaceful just thinking about it!
>Author Susanna Kearsley has grabbed my attention by the scruff and won't let go. I'm working my way through her books. I started with The Shadowy Horses, and have read The Winter Sea and Mariana, and am on to Named of the Dragon. If you like Mary Stewart, you'll like Kearsley.
>I recently picked up The Good and Beautiful God (Smith)– both for cover and for title. I'm not disappointed. I bought Fagle's new(er) translation of the Odyssey and am enjoying the story, the translation and the texture of the pages (which are even a little ragged, as if they were hand-cut). I like paper.
>I always have to carefully schedule my visits to Borders on days when I actually have four hours to spare. I honestly don't know how I manage to spend 4 hours there. It's like Borders has a time warp. You step in – spend five minutes looking at books – then you step out and its four hours later!
>I used to spend a lot of time browsing in my local bookstore (once a week), but it closed recently. It's harder to get a handle of what's being published without visiting a bookstore. I hope publishers think about that in the rush to go digital. I don't have a list of books I want to read.
I haven't read the books you mentioned, but I'd like to read IF THE CHURCH WERE CHRISTIAN–sounds interesting.
>The last book I bought was Transforming Church in Rural America. It’s a memoir written by a pastor of a rural church that is much larger than the typical rural church. I purchased it because I have a special love for rural churches, but I’ve lost my previous interest because that old saying, fools rush in where angels fear to tread, keeps running through my head.
>I'm right in the middle of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, and I'm enjoying it now but sad to hear that I might be disappointed. I hate that!
That said, a lot of the books I read are because of word of mouth. A recent example is "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" by Alan Bradley, which I loved from start to finish. It was one of those that I checked out from the library, then went out and bought a copy because I wanted to own it.
I also spend a lot of time browsing book stores (and especially the YA section because that's what I write). I must go several times a month, just to see what's new. I tend to read the back cover copy of nearly every book that's displayed on the "new" tables because I don't want to miss anything! If something grabs my interest, I'll read the first page. if it's still got me, I'll buy it.
>I try to make time for the bookstore at least onece a month, any more frequently and I would go broke. It is the one place that really calms my mind and comforts my heart.
I have not read any of these books yet but I did pick up My Name is Memory and plan to read it some time this summer.
>I've not read either one of these, but a few look interesting.
I've just purchased "Crossing Oceans" by Gina Holmes.
I read the first chapter on Amazon.com, and I purchased it quickly.
I LOVED the first chapter and look forward to reading the rest of it.
However, fear I'm not looking forward to the emotions I'm about to feel with it…my WIP is about loss, and I'm afraid I must venture through some of it…
here's to learning!
Thanks for the blog.
>Beautiful cover and title for My Name is Memory. Made me click to amazon to have a look. Piqued my interest.
I'm reading Mennonite in a Little Black Dress too. Hysterical.
I'm also reading More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss. Pretty raw, but I love how unique the book is (explores Munchausen by proxy) and the descriptions are blowing me away.
Often we'll head out to dinner on date nights and end up at a bookstore to end the night. My husband knows what makes me happy.
>Haven't read any of them, however I've been a slight book-snob lately and not read much outside of CBA fiction (and usually romance at that)… not because I'm against the other books, but because it's what I write and enjoy so it serves a double purpose of research AND entertainment.
That said, I LOVE LOVE going to the bookstore and browsing. There are usually so many books I want that I spend an hour or more there just deciding! Last two books I read were Maid to Match by D.Gist and Her Mother's Hope by F.Rivers. Loved both of them! Funny though,I've haven't seen that many contemp romances in CBA lately (outside of the catagory romances of course.) Plenty of historicals, but the contemps seem to be more woman's fiction lately. There are some… just seems like not nearly as there once was. But maybe that's just me:-)
>Aside from my own house, I'd rather be in a bookstore than most any other place. Spend most lunch hours there during the work week. It's my recess.
>Yes, I do a slow search of book stores occasionally. Seeing the books in person seems to help keep me up to date.
and… I'm currently reading Women, Food and God. I'm not too far into it, but so far, it's great.
>Just two for now: my daily Bible reading and "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. I'm listening to audiobooks as I pack up my music room for the summer, though: "Finally Alive" by John Piper and "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist" by Norm Geislar and Frank Turek. For some reason I prefer non-fiction in audiobooks.
This summer, I will binge on fiction, which I dearly love as well. The last fiction I finished was about a month ago! I have makeup work to do… 😉
>I'm 30+ years old, and yet I enjoy reading YA paranormal fiction.
I'm waiting for Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast to be available at the library – the covers of the series look nice, the back cover seems interesting, and although YA vampires are getting a little old, this one might be worth reading.
I also greatly enjoy Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series, although they're in no way YA, so the latest book (Dead in the Family) is what I received last in the mail. Unlike YA vampire novels, these books never disappoint me. I don't like the cover of the books, but I decided to buy one after seeing the TV series and ordered the rest as soon as I'd finished the first book.
Stephanie Meyer's The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner is also in the mail. Originally I bought Meyer's books because I wanted to read the first one before seeing the movie, but I got sucked in and read all four in 10 days (which is an accomplishment with 6 month old twins at the time). The cover of her books is simply beautiful (The Host also – which is, in a way, better than the Twilight series).
Then there is Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument series. I saw Meyer recommend the series on her homepage, so that was my first contact, but seeing the cover and reading the back helped me make a decision to buy.
Long post, sorry, but that's basically how I choose my books!
>I have recently got into politics thanks to the recent UK election so i'm very interested in reading the Alistair Campbell diaries and Tony Blair's memoirs which are coming out in September.
I'm going to read a number of books on politics and the history of politics as well as campaigning and getting into grassroot politics as well as doing my final year of Uni.
Now where did i put the keys to my TARDIS, i think i'm going to need it.
>What are these books about? (Yes, I could go look them up, but you're reading them, and I'd like to hear your take on them. I haven't heard of any of them.)
>Ditto Readerly Person on The Magicians and The Physick Book. I thought the latter had a promising premise and made fine use of the author's scholarly expertise without being too didactic, but unfortunately it just didn't display mastery of the craft of fiction.
Women, Food, and God would be on the list in my blackberry if I had a blackberry.
The next three books I'm excited about reading:
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen,
Evolving in Monkeytown by Rachel Held Evans (maybe you've heard of it?) 🙂
Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
>The Magicians' premise was great, but to me, kind of fell apart in the second half of the book and failed to come through with some sort of unifying, driving plot.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane – disappointing.
I haven't read the others, though the Brashares book is on my list.