Buy “Runway”



Why do you buy the books you buy?

I’m curious why people buy the books they buy. Because someone recommended it? Because you saw it in a bookstore and it looked interesting? Because you read a review? Because you’ve read a previous book by the author and liked it? (Below I list the last ten books I bought and why I bought them but my answers are a bit skewed because many of my writing colleagues had books published this year).

1. Big Machine by Victor LaValle—I know Victor and love his work

2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery—Recommended by my hairdresser/writer friend and looked interesting in the bookstore

3. Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman—I work with Po, and I’m a mom who was fascinated by the topic

4. All That Work and Still No Boys by Kathryn Ma—I know Kathryn and love good short stories

5. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Bartlett—I know Allison, and I knew my dad would love the book, so I bought it for him

6. The Slippery Year by Melanie Gideon—I know Melanie and had read her book and loved it, so I bought copies for my sisters

7. The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by Andre Compte-Sponville—This was a staff recommendation at Booksmith on Haight St., and it’s research for a book I’m working on

8. The Age of Orphans by Laleh Khadivi—I went to school with Laleh, and she’s a fantastic writer

9. Going to See the Elephant by Rodes Fishburne—I know Rodes, and this is another one I knew my dad would love, so I bought it for him

10. The Ramen King by Andy Raskin—I know Andy, and had read chapters from this book and loved it

I’ve also purchased many children’s books, mostly French, for my son. Books I plan to buy once I have an e-reader:

1. No-Impact Man by Colin Beavan—Heard about it on NPR

2. God Isn’t Great by Christopher Hitchens—Saw it in a bookstore and need it for research

3. Memoir: A History—Read an article about it linked from a tweet

4. Hold Still by Nina LaCour—I went to school with Nina, and she’s a great writer

10 comments to Why do you buy the books you buy?

  • I saw Victor LaValle read from "The Big Machine" at The New School and I also really liked what he had to say during the Q and A. So I picked up "The Big Machine" and "Slapboxing With Jesus" (which I'm reading right now…it's really, really good).

  • Meghan Ward

    I love Victor! I am reading Big Machine right now, and The Ecstatic is great, too.

  • Ani

    40% of your poll respondents say they read the last book because they knew the author!!

    This must be because this is a blog by a writer for writers and at this point read by writers and their friends!! 🙂

  • Meghan Ward

    Ani, I know, I know! Not a very good representation of the general population!

  • I wish I cd choose more than one option – so here is why i bought/read the last book I did

    I heard about it on the radio/online (and it sounded interesting to me)

    I read a book review of it (and it seemed interesting to me)

    It tackles a subject I am interested in it (social/environmental justice, art/illustration)

    Amazon recommendations based on my purchase history

    I don't think I have read anything by anyone I know yet.

    I hope this skewes the balance of majority of your voting population! 😉

  • ps:

    I like the author's work

  • A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood-I read about the book while reading about the movie coming out.

    The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron-I've been thinking of this again since I had a great conversation with a professor the other day

    Journals of John Cheever-saw a review after following a thread recommending the new biography about him.

    Cheever, A Life,Blake Bailey-I read the review again as part of the NYT best bks of the year…

    The Pleasures of Cooking for One, Judith Jones-read a review, love to cook lavishly for myself

    Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder-I saw it in a bkstore

    The Clinton Tapes-Waiting for a couple years for this.

    The new Michael Chabon essays- I read a review

    Illustrated Genesis by R. Crumb-read a review, big fan of R. Crumb and Genesis

    Jailhouse Lawyers, Mumia Abu Jamal-a friend had a copy

    Children's books…browsing a bkstore

  • Meghan Ward

    Aditi, are you saying ALL those things apply to the same book?

    Georgia, as someone who writes book reviews, I am happy to know that someone reads them!

  • meghan, I pretty much stick to the nyt book reviews. what ones do you like?

  • Meghan Ward

    Sadly, I rarely read reviews, although I write them (now and then) for the Chronicle.