I’d like to know the answer, please! Comment below.
Me? I buy books on a whim. Some of the time, but mostly not, though sometimes I do. It depends. I find myself browsing the shelves of used book stores and new book stores, and I will buy several books, and then go home and read maybe one or two of them, get tired of that stack, and go look for more. Every once in a while, I’ll get to those left over books, months later, or years later, or sometime I don’t. Every few years, I have a great book purge where I give away tons of books. Many are left unread, however many more are read, some reread over and over again, some reread religiously every couple of years. I think about this a lot, and through the years, I’ve tried to figure out what makes me not only buy a book, but eventually read it; because I sell books that I have written myself, and having some concrete knowledge on the mechanisms of buying and reading books would be good knowledge for me to have.
Mostly, though, I buy and read books like I live my life, seemingly randomly and circuitously. I set goals that I rarely meet, build lists that over time I accomplish only to certain degrees. By setting goals and building lists, what I find though, are my true goals and aspirations. And so it goes with the buying and reading of books. It often has to do with friends and booksellers alike, as well as radio shows, other authors, the internet, and obviously, the cover, the title, what movies I’ve seen recently, what my mood is like, and what time of the day it is.
Example. Many years ago, I bought a book I have never read. I bought it because it looked interesting, but then I never got around to it, and then I forgot about it. Several months ago, my friend sends me a message that her friend is publishing his first novel, and that I should read it because it’s my kind of book. My friend sales wine for a living, and though we haven’t seen much of each other recently, we’ve had some great conversations on books and authors, and shared many a glass of wine. So I trust her judgement. I bought the book, read it, enjoyed it thoroughly, wrote a blog entry, and proceeded to stalk the author online to figure out who he is.
His name is Christopher Brown. His novel is called Tropic of Kansas. Either I sent him and email, or he sent me one, or probably I think I remember now I friended him on FB and we exchanged a few words there. He lives in Austin, and was in Houston the day before hurricane Harvey decided to blow through town. He had a reading of his book in my neighborhood, unfortunately I couldn’t attend because I was tending bar that very same night.
Me: Chris, sorry man, I can’t be there. But come on by the bar if you want, and I’ll buy you a beer.
Chris: Sounds good, I might even bring a small contingency of people with me after the reading.
Chris met up with his fellow reader before the reading at the bar, Patrick Hemstreet, and we got to visit for a bit. He showed up early, and since it was the day before the storm, there was nobody at the bar. We talked. He’s smart, quick, well read, and a good listener, meaning he knows how to have a conversation and has plenty of subjects at the ready, and would make for a really good talk-radio conversation. Patrick came in, and I mostly left them to their own, though I joined in when I could. I haven’t picked up one of Patrick’s books, however that’s definitely going to happen in the near future. Chris drank water, Patrick, wine.
Chris came back after the reading, this time with a local Houston book reviewer in tow. They both had diner, and I was finally able to make good on my promise, I bought Chris a beer.
The next day I sent my friend Martha Louise Hunter a text telling her that I would be putting her in touch with Chris. Martha took over the helm of Writing on the Air after I stepped down in October 2015. She and the rest of the crew have been doing an incredible job of interviewing writers, poets, journalists and all kinds of storytellers since for 91.7FM KOOP.org Radio in Austin.
Yesterday, Chris was on the radio being interviewed live by my friends back in Austin. The world is such a strange and wonderful place sometime. And at one point during the interview–they were talking about writing short stories–Chris tells us about an anthology of Mexican short stories he had helped to edit a few years ago. A light went on in my head (That’s a rare thing).
I went to my shelf, and this collection of short stories I had bought several years ago and never read was still there. I picked it up, looked at it: Three Messages and a Warning, edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris N. Brown, introduction by Bruce Sterling.
So I started reading it, picking out stories randomly. The first story I read this morning is “Wittgenstein’s Umbrella” by Oscar de la Borbolla, translated by Saba Gilmore. A beautiful yet strange story of events that might or might not have happened one rainy day.
What’s your process of buying and reading books?
Peace & Love
please buy my books:
Locally, my books are available in Austin, Texas at Book People, Malvern Books
and Half Price Books (2222 & Lamar)
My books are also available in Houston, Texas at Wired Up on Dunlavy & Westheimer.