Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bookseller Recommendations

I recently read in an old Shelf Awareness (I'm catching up!) about a series of interviews with independent booksellers and one stuck with me about recommendations, an area that online booksellers are notoriously bad at. So I thought about books I'd had recommended to me that really surprised me (in a good way) and I really had to think back to a time before I was really in the publishing industry, and oddly that was when I worked at Bookstar.

Even though I worked at a bookstore, I wasn't half as aware of books as I am now. I was pretty good at recommending books for customers, but I wasn't always great at finding books for myself. One book on the Staff Recommends shelf just screamed out at me, and I eventually decided to give it a shot, but only after I had left Bookstar and a co-worker at Ingram recommended it as well: Louisiana Power and Light by John Dufresne. It was brilliant. And I kicked myself! I hadn't liked the Bookstar co-worker who had recommended it, so I assumed I would also not like books he liked.

Shortly after, I ran across a free abridged audio of Naked by David Sedaris, which had ALSO been Staff Recommended by the same guy. I laughed so hard on my trip I nearly drove off the road more than once. I immediately got the print book and spent Thanksgiving reading chapters aloud to my mother as she cooked. I wracked my mind to think of other books recommended by that old bookseller, and they were winners (About a Boy by Nick Hornby and The Inn at Lake Divine by Elinor Lipman) but sadly, I had made my discovery too late. He also no longer worked at Bookstar, and I had lost my most reliable recommender of wonderful, funny books.

I learned my lesson (well, mostly) about judging people's book tastes based on their personalities. (Also, one of my best friends and I have opposite tastes and I have learned that if she suggests a book I will hate it and vice-versa. On the plus side, when she hates a book I rush out to buy it.)

Have you had any excellent, surprising bookseller recommendations?


tediousandbrief said...

The only bookseller recomendation I can recall being influenced upon at all was, on all things, Amazon.com.

I was looking at a book I had just read, Battle Royale and it recommended I read Haruki Murakami's work. Apart from both being written by Japanese authors in the late 20th centuries, these books have little else in common.

Though, I did like both the book recommended and the book the recommendation was based upon.

Most of the clunkers of recommendations were actually given to me by friends who would recommend a favorite book only for me to really dislike it!

Carin Siegfried said...

@tediousandbrief - maybe you shold do what I do with my friend, and ask those friends what books they hated. If your tastes are simply opposite, they can still - inadvertantly - suggest books that you'll like!