Book Buzz

During this morning’s procrastination routine, I stumbled upon a blog post by Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution. I’ve been out of touch with my old blogging and webcomic haunts ever since Google Reader shut down, so this one was a month out of date, but the bit that struck me was this:

If I may fill in some blanks, one possible version of the hypothesis — to pull an idea from Gary Becker and Steve Erfle — is that readers consume both “books” and “buzz around books” as complements.  …That would explain the concentration of reading interest among bestsellers and books your peers are reading. 

Until recently, I held a fairly territorial position with regard to my reading material. With a reading list which already feels like a mile long, my default attitude to someone thrusting a book in my direction and ordering me to read it at once has been surly at best. However, this came as a two-edged sword: while I felt reluctant to accept reading suggestions from others, it also frustrated me to find no one else would take reading suggestions from me. Indeed, it seemed the more enthusiastically I promoted a book, the more my friends seemed to resist.

Then I discovered audiobooks, and my reading schedule cleared suddenly to the point where I could more comfortably accept—request, even!—book recommendations.

Might I just say, reading is so much more fun this way?

To those of you, like me, who have too often preferred your own literary judgments to those of your peers, I recommend rearranging your priorities. Pick a book you can share with those around you, while it’s still fresh in their minds. Don’t wait till your friend has forgotten half the plot and no longer even remembers suggesting you read it, but strike while the iron is hot! Reading on your own can be a lonely endeavor; why not join the buzz?

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