Friday, April 09, 2010

Hunting for Treasure

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island . . . and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day.

–Walt Disney

Yesterday I received a box, a BIG box, from Amazon (ok, lets not go into any Amazon hate here.  I understand many people feel Amazon needs to call a whaaaambulance over the entire Macmillan kerfuffle. I hear you, and I understand. But I love my packages. I need my packages. There is no rush like seeing that box waiting at your door, but I digress). I’d had pretty crummy day, and I was sitting in bed with my head bent over my laptop feigning an attempt at writing.  God bless the saint to whom I am married.  He came in with a glass of wine in one hand and my box in the other.

“Sweetie, this should brighten your day,” he said as he handed me the box and then the wine.  He was right.

Some ladies are addicted to buying shoes or purses.  Not me.  My addiction is books.  I get light-headed and giddy in a bookstore.  There is nothing that smells better than a bookstore.  The only reason that I enjoy Christmas shopping is that it gives me a legitimate excuse to lose hours, and I mean HOURS, in bookstores.  Couple that with the ease of online shopping (Amazon super-saver shipping and its simple challenge to put together an order of $25 or more is my downfall), and it is easy to understand why my fashion style is stuck in 1998, but I am up to date on the most recent paperback releases.

My reading choices are pretty eclectic.  I would love to sound all intellectual and rattle off a bunch of literary fiction I’d finished, but I can’t.  God would strike me dead with a bolt of lightening for attempting to tell such a whopper.  However, with the exception of the books reserved for the smarties of the world, I’ll read just about anything you put in front of me.  This always leads to the burning question - what should I read next? 

My favorite moment is when I find a new author.  I have several “go to” authors that I love, but in trying to fill the time in between releases, I get to go on a treasure hunt.  First, I will seek out books by authors I have met.

Meeting an author (and having the chance to get a book signed) is a huge thing for me.  I feel more tied to the story and root for the author’s success due to the personal connection.  I keep a list of authors I meet at signings and conventions so I can search for their treasures when I am book shopping.  This last Christmas, I put together of basket of books from authors I’d met for my mother-in-law.  She devoured them.  I overheard her telling the ladies in her bridge group, “Oh, you must read this.  Heather met the author, you know.”  There is something electrifying and contagious about that brush with fame!  If you are a published author, and you've met me, you can bet I've bought at least one of your books since then.  

Word of mouth is invaluable.  I’ve yet to have a friend steer me toward a stinker.  But relying on a recommendation feels like cheating.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to read the book you suggested to me. I hop onto too many bandwagons to be left behind.  However, the egoist in me likes to be the one to find the diamond in the rough.

The internet is another great resource for finding that hidden treasure of a great book.  I’ve found several books I love by following links on my favorite authors’ websites to new worlds.  Podcasts have also yielded printed bounty.  In the last year, I've probably purchased five or six books written by authors who I heard interviewed on my favorite podcasts.

I can't be alone on my quest.  What treasure maps do you use to find your next read?


Jeanie said...

Heather, I have a relatively short list of authors I read, maybe a dozen or so. But you can bet I have everything they've written! If I love you as a writer, I am very loyal. I check favorite writers' websites on a regular basis to see what's new and to make sure I haven't missed anything. I'm a bit of a stalker like that.

I'm pretty selective about how I add to my list of authors. Louisa and I share the same reading tastes, so I trust her recommendations. She's put me on to several fabulous 'new' authors. New, that is, to me. They may have been around for years.

You're right, it is a treasure when you find a writer you connect with. They feel like old friends. I have read everything Jayne Ann Krentz has ever written under all her various pen names. Got to meet her last summer at the literacy signing at RWA. For me, it was like an Elvis sighting. I acted like a giddy kid, but she was very gracious. Way, way cool. Meeting her, that is; not me. I was a total geek.

Heather said...

Jeanie - I now what you mean about getting star struck when you meet a favorite author. It won't be long until a throng of fans find themselves tongue tied when they meet their favorite author, Lexi George!

MaryC said...

Hi Heather,

Like you, I'm addicted to books. I mean SERIOUSLY addicted. Sadly for my budget, Barnes and Noble is about 6 blocks from my house. If I'm having a bad day (or a good one) or just happen to be walking anywhere in that direction (or an opposite direction :) ) I often find myself popping in just to see what's new. The result is an obscenely large TBR pile, but there's nothing like the rush of coming home with new books.

To answer your question, I've come up with two ways to find new reads lately. One is a result of procrastinating in my writing. It's so much fun to blog hop or twitter search and see who links to whom and what new author you can find that way. I love the B&N digital bookstore because I can download sample chapters from these new authors to my ipod and check them out when I'm on the subway or have a few minutes here or there.

Happy reading!

Heather said...

Mary, I love the idea of using the Barnes & Noble digital bookstore (There is a B & N less than half a mile from both my office and house - guess where I spend too much time?) to look at sample chapters. That taste is always enough to hook me!

Jeanie said...

Heather, you are such a friend! Hope you're right about the fans -- for you, too!

Louisa Cornell said...

There is not a room in my house that doesn't have a bookshelf in it and that includes the bathrooms! There are bookshelves down the hall. And I live in a mobile home! My brothers are taking bets on when the floors are going to give in under the strain.

I have extensive libraries on all things Regency, of course - that library grows every day. I also have libraries on herpetology, ornithology, music and music history, Native American studies and then there are the novels.

Huge selection of historical romance novels. A pretty good collection of paranormals. A small collection of mysteries and other fiction. And sections of romantic suspense, thrillers, horror (all of Stephen King in hardback no less!)I read in almost all romance genres.

I have one shelf that is nothing but Southern Magic authors.

I have to agree that meeting an author has a profound effect on my feelings about their work.

For historicals there is a great blog called The Season that reviews all of the new historical romances coming out.

Heather said...

Louisa - thank you for pointing out The Season - what a great blog!

M.V.Freeman said...

Oh Heather,
Books are my addiction, curse, and comfort!

I look for books by word of mouth, sometimes while I am scrolling around I see something online..or I go to the book store and poke about (That's how I found Anne Bishop an excellent author of Jewels of the Blood series).

Like Jeanie, I am a very loyal reader too, if you written something I like, I'll read everything.

And Like Louisa, I have books in every room in my house.

I never throw books away, I give them away or donate them.

I'll probably die with a book clutched in my hand.....

Carla Swafford said...

Sometimes I just luck up when it comes to finding a new author to me. I've made myself get rid of tons and tons of books. I figure I can't re-read all of them so I only keep my favorites (that list is growing more and more each year) and give away all the others.

Gwen Hernandez said...

I'm not sure I'd be a writer if I hadn't first been an addicted reader. Sometimes I just scan the shelf looking for covers similar to the authors I like. I also find out who they recommend in the genre.

Now that I'm involved in the romance world, I'm more aware of the names in romance and have been finding authors through ads and recommendations.

The only thing holding me back is my budget, and like you, I'm not much into the literary works. I only keep those by my very favorite authors, and signed books from authors I've met.

As I develop an online "relationship" with some authors, it definitely affects how I feel about them and their work, for better or worse. Usually better. ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

I'm not sure all of that made sense, but hopefully you get the idea. I need to go to bed.

Heather said...

I am so happy to know I am not alone with my book addiction, because it is one I never want to break. We are in the middle of a renovation project, and my husband keeps scoffing each time I mention getting more book space!

Cari Hislop said...

I treasure my biographies. I bought my first first edition this past year. OK it was less than 20$ because there can't be even half a dozen psychos who'd want a book on John Sheffield (also known as the Duke of Buckingham and Normanby - his house is the original part of Buckingham Palace in London) but it's one of my treasures. I love studying people. It keeps my stalker tendencies focused on those who can't sue me. They're usually obscure people no one else cares about which makes life difficult, but it does leave room for imagination. Everyone's a story! :)

Heather said...

Cari - I just finished The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington. It altered forever how I see James Bond (Ian Flemming was one of the Irregulars) or Willie Wonka!

prashant said...

She's put me on to several fabulous 'new' authors. New, that is, to me. They may have been around for years.
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Cari Hislop said...

To Heather:

I read a bio some years back on Ian Flemming (talk about truth being stranger than fiction!)but I don't remember reading about his time in Washington. I'll have to look it up, it sounds really good!