Apr 30, 2007

Where do books come from?

Chris over at "Stuff as Dreams are Made On" asked a very interesting question - where do books come from? I have an ever-increasing "to be read" list, but I actually have to stop for a moment and think before I can answer this question.

A while ago I noticed that sometimes, after a title had been on my list for a long time, I couldn't remember where I'd heard about it for the first time. Lately I've been adding that information between brackets after the book title, because knowing where I heard of that book helps me remember why I decided I wanted to read it in the first place.

My "auto-buy" authors are definitely Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. There are other authors whose work I want to read in its entirety, but I still have to catch up with their back catalogue, so I'm less concerned with their latest releases. These include Ursula K. Le Guin, Diana Wynne Jones and Douglas Coupland, for example.

As for "chocolate authors", there's a Portuguese series for children by an author called Álvaro Magalhães that I began to read when I was 10 or so, and I still find myself reading it at 24. Over time, I began to realize that the books are somewhat predictable and not exactly brilliantly written, but something makes me come back to them anyway. It's an adventure series, in the style of Enid Blyton's "The Famous Five", except it involves some elements of fantasy and mythology - in my favourite book of the series, the three main characters discover a cult to the Hindu goddess Kali operating in their city's underground tunnels and sewers. In another, they discover a modern day Egyptian-like pyramid where millennium-old curses still come to be. My childhood was, sadly, most deprived of fantasy, but reading books like these satisfied a longing I wasn't even aware of. And so, perhaps out of gratitude, I still buy the latest title of this series whenever it comes out.

But I digress. Back to the original question - Where do books come from?

Neil Gaiman's blog is certainly a valuable resource for me. I discovered SO many of my current favourites because of Neil. In fact, there's a section in my "to be read" list titled "Neil recommends", and it includes titles like "Lud in the Mist" by Hope Mirrlees (which I'm planning on reading for the "Once Upon a Time" challenge), "Little Big" by John Crowley, or Victoria Walker's "The Winter of Enchantment".

I'm new to the blog world, but my "to be read" list has honestly doubled in the last few weeks because of it. Thanks to the "Once Upon a Time" reviews I've heard of books I'd never heard of before, and many sound extremely interesting.

Then there are Amazon's listmanias and recommendations, thanks to which I've discovered many books. And of course, there's also recommendations from friends.

Also, when I see an author I don't know praising a book I love, I tend to check that author out. That's how I discovered Philip Pullman, for example - because he praised Coraline. I also discovered A. S. Byatt thanks to her blurbs on the Discworld books.

Message Boards where books are discussed are useful as well. I often see people discussing a book so passionately that it makes me want to read it as well.

I also like book browsing, both at bookstores and at libraries. I'd much rather own a book than read a library copy, but since I can't afford to buy all the books I'd like to read, the library comes in handy. Sometimes, if I don't know what to read next, I just go to the library and grab whatever catches my eye. Of course, this technique is hit or miss.

Finally, the Endicott Studio reading list and book reviews have helped me discover many wonderful books.


  1. I forgot about Endicott! Their reading list is incredible. You could spend years working through that one.

    Lud in the Mist is on my TBR list too thanks to Neil...lord knows when I'll get around to it.

    Great answers! That Portuguese series sounds pretty cool..

  2. Yes, I should have mentioned Endicott as well!

  3. Thanks, Chris.

    And yes, Endicott is incredible. So many wonderful books listed there.

  4. Neil Gaiman's blog really is a great source for various things. He has reminded me of old favourite books and also of music I had forgotten about but love - Thea Gilmore for example.

    Endicott is also awesome!

    Great post, Nymeth! I've answered this one too over on my blog.

  5. Thank you! I thought your post was great as well.

    I never quite managed to get into Thea Gilmore. I bought one of her albums because of Neil, and while I didn't dislike it, it never really grabbed my attention. Perhaps I need to spend more time with it.

    But on the other hand, he got me to listen to The Magnetic Fields, and they quickly became one of my favourite bands.

  6. Which album did you try? Her first album is by far my favourite.

  7. It was "Songs from the Gutter". I'm going to look for the first one.


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