How I Choose Which Book To Read Next

We leave for Newfoundland tomorrow morning and as our first extended trip without Pace (10 days!) I’m extremely excited about the possibility of doing lots of uninterrupted reading.  Unfortunately, even though I’ve packed four print books (and downloaded another three e-books to my iPhone), I still don’t feel any of them sending me an urgent “Read Me!” message so many books do.

I thought it might be interesting to look at how I came to the last five books I’ve read as a window into how the process works, at least for me.

Now, like a lot of book lovers, I have a list of “Books to Read”.  Unfortunately, mine is probably 30 pages long and has been building for ten years.  So really, it’s just a way for me to “let go” of the various new (and new to me) books I’m constantly coming across from a variety of sources including the Internet, magazines, friends, mentions in other books, newspapers, year-end “best of” lists, random browsing at the library or bookstores, social media sites, colleagues, conferences, etc. etc. etc.

That means that most of the time, it’s simply a case of timing and serendipity as to which book I read next – something I’ve *just* heard about or picked up is fresh in my head when I finish another book.

Here are the last five I’ve read from most recent to least (plus the one I’m currently reading)…

Employees First, Customers Second” – Vineet Nayar
– I’m only half done this one and won’t be taking it on the trip as it’s not much of a “summer read”.  But it is really good.  It came to me via the recommendation of a person in collections at RPL who knew that I happen to subscribe to this style of management philosophy.

Baltimore’s Mansion” – Wayne Johnston
– Preparing for our trip and thinking of what I might want to read, I did some Google searches for things like “Best Newfoundland books”.  I knew of Wayne Johnston for “Colony of Unrequited Dreams” and “The Navigator of New York” of course but it turned out that an earlier memoir caught my eye the most – both because I tend to be more partial to non-fiction over fiction but also because this had strong themes of fathers and sons which I’m really interested in these last few years for some reason.  😉   Unfortunately, I started reading it before we left and stayed up a couple nights ago to finish it off (awesome twist near the end!) so I’m without a “Newfoundland” book for our trip other than the Frommer’s Guide I packed.

Ragged Company” – Richard Wagameese
This one was recommended (along with dozens of others) as a great work of Aboriginal fiction during a book talk presentation by Order of Canada recipient and author, David Bouchard, during a recent conference I attended.  The book is about four homeless Aboriginal people in an unnamed Canadian city who discover a winning lottery ticket and need to enlist a journalist they know to claim their winnings.  There were a few things that I stretched believability in the book but as Bouchard said, it does an amazing job of capturing the points of view, language and rhythms of street people.

The Mesh: Why The Future of Business is Sharing” – Lisa Gansky
Discovered this one due to the recent Seth Godin article about the future of libraries.  Maybe because I live in that world and read so much about new technology and how it’s transforming society in various ways, this book seemed like a lot of common sense.  Like Godin, I got the sense that Gansky was not just talking up a new concept but also trying to coin a new word to help get lucrative speaking gigs!

Saskatchewan: A New History” – Bill Waiser
I’ve had this one on my “To Read” list since it was published in our provincial centennial year of 2005 and nominated for a few awards in that year’s Saskatchewan Book Awards.  Not sure what finally convinced me to read it recently – it’s a thick, fairly scholarly history book but once I started reading, I really got into it.  The sections about the struggles of the early pioneers and also the ongoing mistreatment of the province’s Aboriginal people were particularly enlightening.

Outline of My Lover” – Douglas A. Martin
You might be surprised to hear that I don’t read a lot of gay fiction. 😉 But I came across this book in a magazine story about R.E.M.’s lead singer, Michael Stipe, one of my favourite singers and lyricists. This book is a thinly veiled memoir by the young man who was Stipe’s lover during the band’s heyday.  It was a really quick read and the book was told in literary sketches (the word “Outline” in the title is very appropriate) which are fleeting, just like R.E.M.’s lyrics.

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