• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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When I Found Out Yesterday


Do you read book reviews? The NYTBR, People, The Nation, The TLS, The New York Review, USA Today, The Atlantic, the New Yorker? Do you read your hometown paper, The New Haven Register, the Hartford Courant, the SF Chronicle, the WASHINGTON POST, etc. The blogs? THe Awl, The Millions, Slate, Paris Review, etc. WHERE Do you find out about books and WHO do you believe?


10 Responses

  1. Yes. The New York Review of Books requires a commitment, but I like the articles. No books yet bought from there, but I did read an article about Eli Gottlieb’s “Best Boy” by Philip Lopate that I liked — I read that book after hearing about it right here, so I guess I’d have to say I listen to reviews posted here. Hmm. That’s very true now that I think about it — many recommendations from you and readers of this blog have been right on.
    Also read the NY Times Book Reviews on occasion, but I’ve been burned by some of their reviews. It’s all a matter of opinion, I guess.
    I do read Amazon reviews and have found some unexpected gems there. Paul Yoon comes to mind. And that’s where I first read of George Saunders “Lincoln in the Bardo”, a book that I enjoyed and was more moved by than I expected.
    Word of mouth and friend’s recommendations are still high on my list.
    And some of the best books I’ve ever read have been impulse buys, purchased on a whim when I didn’t have enough money afterwards to buy a bowl of soup, but I figure if I can’t live on a wing and a prayer than my soul is in sore need of nourishment anyhow.

  2. Used book stores in small towns, looking, digging like a miner, reading jackets, scanning pages. Treasures, trash, old friends and family.

    I pay attention to opinions here, because I value them.

  3. Some of the most satisfying novels I’ve ever read were flagged by the People mag book reviews.

  4. Probably 80% of what I buy is direct observation in the bookstore. “That looks interesting…” Have I ever bought a pleasure-book from a review, in The New Yorker or in the NYRB or the San Francisco Chronicle? Not that I can recall.

    Used bookstores are terrific, even when the writer isn’t making any money off my four bucks, because if I like her book, I’m going to our local indy bookstore and buy her other books, at full price.

    I only buy work books on Amazon, titles that sell 500 copies nationally but that I need to read anyway. “Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class” is coming this week. And those DO come to my attention through reviews, in Inside Higher Ed or the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

    I took a class, decades ago, called The Critical Review, taught by David Littlejohn of Berkeley’s journalism department. Great, great guy, passed away just last year. And he worked really hard to get us out of the consumer-service mindset of reviews. Reviews are just like any other kind of writing, and people read them for the same reasons as any other kind of writing—because there’s a smart, funny, thoughtful person in the words. The review is its own end, not a mere referent.

  5. I read all the periodicals, but the best source is the new book section of my public library. My city has a terrific library system. I would never have discovered it if I hadn’t been too broke for the bookstore.

  6. Susan, People mag all the way.

  7. I find out about books mostly from the New York Review and from various items posted to Arts & Letters Daily. But there are so many other places where book info can come from these days, you can hardly be a writer and be paying attention without stubbing your eyes over news of some intriguing book.

    As for evaluating whether or not to buy a book or read it, what usually decides me is I’ll read something from it, or something written by its author but maybe not in that same book, and go ahead and take a chance. There are so many good writers and so many good books, if I had ten lifetimes I couldn’t read them all. This is both exhilarating and heartbreaking.

  8. Find out about books mainly from the used wooden bookshelves outside of Strand, secondarily from Twitter.

  9. Book Club, Writing workshop, the radio show Writers on Writing on KUCI.org, NPR affiliates, NYT book review, People, Costco Magazine, friends, Goodreads, The Little Free Libraries in the hood, the new books section in my local library, but one of my favorite books was recommended by one of my regulars in the restaurant where I work. She told me about The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. I loved it so much. It made me think it would be so cool if authors could know all the many interesting ways that readers become connected to the books they write. Thank you for your blog, I love reading it.

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