The Sunday Salon — Book Madness

It was a quiet week for me blogging but I did get some reading in and came across something interesting on the LA Times book blog, Jacket Copy, that made me think about my own reading habits.  The article, The Morning News Announces Tournament of Books Contenders, is about a book tournament modeled on the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.  It starts with a pool of 16 books, one person judges two books and advances one narrowing the books down from 16 to eight to four to two, and finally one winner.   The champion book of the year is awarded The Rooster.  There’s more information on The Morning News site if you want to read the rules.

The books were chosen because they were hyped, celebrated, or someone lobbied passionately for them at some point.   What I found so interesting about the list was that I hadn’t read one of the books.  A few are on my list but I haven’t picked up one on the list, at least not yet anyway.  I have an almost obsessive compulsion not to read books on bestseller lists.  Is it because I don’t like being told what to read?  Or that I don’t like to read what everyone else is reading?  If I do read books off these lists is it akin to drinking the kool-aid?  Maybe.  Then maybe I’m thinking about it too much.

I do like recommendations, let’s face it, thanks to book bloggers my TBR has grown from something manageable into a monster that has taken on a life of its own.  It’s not that I don’t like to read popular books because I do read a lot of them but I tend to stay away from really popular books when they’re being hyped.  I don’t know the reason for this but it’s the way I am when it comes to reading.  If it’s on a bestseller list, I won’t touch it, even if I really want to read it, until it falls off the list or people forget about it.  It’s the reason you don’t see many big books reviewed by me.  It also got me thinking about being well-read.  Eva at A Striped Armchair has some interesting thoughts on the subject which is probably what brought me to the conclusion I came to about the Tournament of Books.  I usually don’t judge my reading against others simply because it’s not a fair comparison.  I read what I like, I always have, and will continue to do so.  It’s not a matter of worrying about how many books I read, I keep track but for no other reason than to drop some books off my TBR, and I don’t worry about hitting certain numbers.  I guess it got me wondering as to how and why I pick certain books.  I don’t have a system for picking books.  I finish one and look around at what’s available to me at any given point in time and make a choice.

After reading all of that you have to be wondering what my point is with all this.  I start out talking about a book tournament and end up talking about how I pick books.  I’m not sure I have a point today other than to wonder aloud at how I pick my books (the well-read part isn’t something I want to get into since it’s something I can only determine for myself but it’s an interesting topic anyway).

So my question is — how do you pick your books?  Do you use bestseller lists?  Prefer recommendations from books bloggers? Another system entirely?