Monday, August 11, 2008

Note to self re: bookbuying

Many times in the past two years, I've bought just-out hardcover non-fiction and been hugely disappointed, sometimes by the ideas, sometimes by the writing, sometimes by both. So listen up, self:

When you learn of new non-fiction that addresses matters of culture, education, language, or technology, wait. Read a sample online or in a bookstore. Consider whether you're willing to take on several hundred pages of the writer's prose. Look at Amazon reviews (which are sometimes far more discerning than those found in traditional media). And ask yourself, self, the crucial question: do you need to buy this book, or can you be happy getting it from the library?

And remember, self, if you buy the book in hardcover, it might be out in paperback by the time you get around to reading it.

comments: 4

Thom said...

I'm going to read and reread this post and make it my mantra. I'm far too quick to buy hardback books that I either end up not enjoying or not reading before the paperback version comes out.

I'm still searching for those nifty Black Pearl erasers, by the way. They are a hard commodity to find here in Virginia.

Michael Leddy said...

Thom, I'm glad you found this post useful.

Yes, Black Pearls, I've discovered, are scarce.

Geo-B said...

As an English teacher, would you permit that paragraph to fly? There are non-fiction books and there are non-fiction books (I just finished The Archimedes Codex and started Universe of Stone: A biography of Chartres Cathedral). Are there examples? What are these disappointments and literary crimes that you've encountered?

Michael Leddy said...

Consider the context, George: I wrote this post as a note to myself (which of course might also be useful to a reader). Thus no need to rehearse dissatisfactions with books I've read. The point was to counsel patience.