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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Risks of Recommendation

Credit: www.studiojuliakay.com

Ever check out someone else's dust jacket? Admit it. It's not dirty.

You're standing in your favorite aisle of the bookstore (or library), and you spot someone holding one of you favorite reads. If you're anything like me, your first impulse is to tell them what a great book it is and usher them toward the register. The trouble is putting yourself out there to give a book recommendation is a lot like throwing out a pick-up line. It's a craps shoot, and it could go horribly wrong.

You strike up the conversation and you wait, noting the closest escape route in case an uncomfortable situation arises. Will the sudden and possibly incoherent professing of your undying love for a book send the message that you're a passionate bibliophile or a socially awkward and somewhat creepy loner they should slowly back away from? Will you hit it off and talk titles or will they squelch your enthusiasm with a withering look?

I mean, why is it so damn tough sometimes to just say...

Nine out of ten times, I take the risk. What's the worst thing that could happen? You find yourself alone in an aisle full of books. No negatives there. (More books for you, right?) Even if the person does hear you out and doesn't buy immediately, who knows? Your recommendation could lodge in their brain like a tiny knowledge grenade that will go off at a later date. 

I have a pretty good recommendation record, I think. I've chatted about books with teens, parents, and even a courthouse deputy admittedly perusing the Young Adult section for himself. I've never had anyone outright shut me down. I have experienced the fake out though. You know, where someone smiles, nods and picks up the book you're talking about then puts it down as soon as you turn away? Can't win 'em all.

What is all comes down to is that book lovers are literary evangelists. It's kind of what we do. And, let's face it, any opportunity to share a book you love is a good one. Some people talk about which celebrities are dating and who got voted off the island this week. We talk books, and we can't stop. Spreading the word about a good book may get you some strange looks, but personally I think the successes make the strikeouts worth it. 


  1. This happens to me every time I go to the bookstore, except half the time they walk away before I can work up the courage to say something, haha.

  2. I've never recommended a book to anyone in the store before, but I may try it the next time I see the opportunity. I'll just make sure not to be to pushy.