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September 24, 2008

Book Profiling

Posted by carol
Tonight a friend asked me for book recommendations. I often tell friends that I see myself as a book concierge, and I take my role very seriously. When someone asks what I think they should read, I ask them what they have read that they liked. I ask what authors have made an impact on them. I ask what books they would want to re-read --- and talk about.

Usually at about this point people are warmed up, and titles, authors and bookish memories start coming at me. From there I start to form a picture of my friend as a reader. People often surprise me with what they enjoy reading. Often just when you think you know someone, you will hear what they are reading and then see them a whole new way.

Contrast this with book clubs where readers often know each other by their taste in books more than anything else. Thus when it's someone's turn to choose you either cheer or groan according to whether their tastes match your own.

As I write this post I am looking at my own bookshelves. They tell a story of me and how my reading habits have changed over the years. I can remember a lot about these books as I look at them. And where I was in my own life as I read them.

Look at your own bookshelves sometime and see what story they tell about you. Do you like that story? If not, how would you edit your shelves to tell a story of you that you would be happy with? Ask your fellow book club members these questions when you meet next. It might be fun to hear their answers!

---Carol Fitzgerald