Intellectual reading… from Facebook?

Lots of people have their own ideas on how best to find their next novel to read.  Some keep lists of books they intend to check out at a later date.  Some rate past purchases and books they’ve read on Amazon in hopes that it will refine the site’s suggestions.  Others scour book club lists or the New York Times Best Sellers.  Many use GoodReads, a social networking site whose purpose is to categorize and rate books, and share your views and recommendations with your friends.  In a similar and less Web 2.0-savvy way, others go by word of mouth of friends and family.

I use all of these tactics and then some.  But do you know what has worked best for me? Taking note of my English major Facebook friends’ tastes.

Think about it: who better to ask for book recommendations than those who willingly read 15+ books a semester for their classes (or at least picked a major that required such)?  English majors read and analyze the greatest, most worldly works in literature and in many cases take upwards of ten classes dedicated to their study.  It isn’t illogical to think the kid on your hall who wrote a 23-page paper analyzing the works of Kafka might know a thing or two about a good book.  Wouldn’t you rather navigate the overwhelming ocean of books with a seasoned oarsman as opposed to a first-time paddler?

While I don’t keep a running list of every book an English major mentions on their Facebook profile, I long ago noticed that many cited the same ones.  I figure, these people have read hundreds of books, and likely hundreds more than most of the population.  If they think something is the best, they’re probably drawing from a larger, more comprehensive sample than little ol’ me.

So what books do my English major friends’ profiles display over and over again?  Here’s a short list:

Are all English majors’ recommendations amazing?  Of course not.  But scouring profiles for suggestions has lead me to some quality reads in the past (anything Vonnegut, Prep, gods in Alabama, etc.). As a result, I decided this week to pick up Everything is Illuminated.  Though I’m only on page 15, I’m gushing about the author’s writing style already.  A quick peek at my favorite line in the book already (page 4):

“My stomach is very strong, although it presently lacks muscles. Father is a fat man, and Mother is also.”

Hilarious!  The narrator says so much about his personality and appearance in so few, but perfectly orchestrated words.  Wonderful.

Thanks English majors for keeping your Facebook profiles updated, or at least your “Favorite Books” section.  I’ve been secretly hitting y’all up for suggestions for years!

What books do you see again and again on your friends’ Facebook profiles? How do they compare to that of your English major friends? Have you used them for other suggestions, like to find a movie or new TV show to watch?

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1 Comment

Filed under books, reading

One response to “Intellectual reading… from Facebook?

  1. Jenn

    Kate,

    I found your blog through a sports networking group on LinkedIn. Great book list. I’ve only read three of them (On the Road, Gatsby, and Everything is Illuminated) thus far but there are several others on your list that have also been on mine for years.

    I have to say, Everything is Illuminated is responsible for many wonderful and hilarious conversations I’ve had with other people who have also read it; some that were almost complete strangers before that conversation and who are now great friends. I can even credit it with playing an integral role in jump starting a very successful relationship, after a friend-of-a-friend noticed it on my list of favourite books on Facebook. A year later we still frequently quote lines in the book as inside jokes.

    I also highly recommend Foer’s second book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Hilarious inner dialogue from the nine-year-old main character.

    I hope your job search is going well. I, too, am looking for full time employment after losing my communications job in November, which means I’ve had plenty of time for reading lately!

    Cheers,
    Jenn

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