Growing up my siblings and I spent our lives in the library, almost literally. The librarians watched us learn how to write our names so we could get a library card and check out books. They watched me in particular, the most addicted, go through the young children’s section and then move on to other portions of the library. I remember going up to the reference desk to get the bookmarkers they had recommending books for the different grade levels. After I finished those I went on to browse the adult sections.
Obviously I received a lot of recommendations from the librarians. I also got, and continue to get, them from my mother who would faithfully take us to the library every week to exchange books. As we started to earn a little money or received gift certificates trips to the bookstores began. We were in luck with both a B Dalton’s and a Waldenbooks in my little town. Of course when they introduced their membership cards we made sure the family had one of each. The booksellers there loved their work and gladly offered their recommendations to us and spent time talking books.
I also can’t forget about my teachers. Those who had bookshelves in the back of the classroom and scheduled quiet reading time. The teachers who wanted to keep me occupied so they started bringing books. The teachers who didn’t have room for bookshelves but would let me visit the school library and recommended certain shelves or areas of the Dewey decimal system to visit.
However, things started to change. As I started going through high school and preparing for college I ended up getting most of my recommendation though the bookstore and library. The only teachers who talked about reading were my English teachers and they were focused on literature which isn’t a bad thing, just not what I enjoy reading. In college there was more of the same but college also had the internet. Unfortunately I didn’t use the internet to really look for book recommendations just titles by authors I already liked. Thankfully we had a wonderful bookstore because the library was primarily research material. I think I read their two Nora Roberts books enough times to memorize them.
After graduation and living in a non-English speaking country, the internet, ordering books on-line, and finding author websites became a lifesaver for me. That is when it switched for me from less of a face to face interaction resulting in new books to read but the more impersonal recommendations on certain well known book seller websites. A few years later I discovered that some author websites, for example Patricia Briggs, had forums. And on those forums were other people who loved books just as much if not more then I do. Finally I was back to person to person book recommendations.
Now the majority of my book recommendations come from twitter, book review blogs, or Goodreads. Sadly
I no longer have a local bookstore so my face to face recommendations are limited to my occasional treks to the big city when I can visit the used bookstore (UBS) or the remaining large chain bookstore. I have to admit that I miss the face to face interaction.
Thanks for staying with me on this trip through memory lane. Tell me, how has the source of your book recommendations changed with the increase in technology and decrease in local brick and mortar stores?