Ask me anything. Just don’t ask me for a book recommendation.

cat laying next to book

I am surrounded by books.  I travel with them, I sleep with them, I snack with them. There are books on my bedside table, books on the side table in the living room, books on shelves, books on counters, books in my car.  If you are in my home, you will see books everywhere you look.  They are constant companions, they suit any mood.  Books are my preferred form of entertainment.

I can tell you a lot of things about books:  how they’re bound, what they’re worth, why they are important.  I am always reading something – usually several somethings – and, if I’m in the proper mood, will be happy to answer your questions about what that something is, whether I like it, and why.

Recommending something for you to read, however, is a whole ‘nother story.

It is one thing to tell you what I am reading.  (Currently:  Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Phantom by Jo Nesbo (translated into English), and The Melody Lingers On by Mary Higgins Clark.)

It is quite another to tell you what to read.

I am often asked for book recommendations.  I am constantly surprised by the question.  Here’s why:

Without knowing your

  • personal tastes and preferences,
  • reading history and reading/vocabulary level,
  • attention span,

OR

  • whether you read for education or entertainment,
  • the environment(s) in which you read,
  • whether you have access to a lending library, etc…

Well, let’s just say that, for me, making a random recommendation about what you should be reading ranks right up there with telling people which religious cult to join.  I’m about as likely to tell people that as I am to tell them what diet they really need to try or which sexual position they absolutely must favor.

It’s just not how I roll.

Yes, there are (extremely rare!) occasions when I give a generalized “everybody could benefit from reading this book” sort of spiel.  I even went so far as to put two books on my ‘gift recommendations’ list this past Christmas.  However, that was done with a fuckton of forethought as well as the knowledge that the majority of folks accessing that list would – as readers of this blog – respond positively to the sex-positive and body-celebratory titles suggested.

But mostly, I have a really hard time giving book recommendations because, to me, a book recommendation is extremely personal.  It’s a bit like giving a gift.  (And books make fantastic gifts!)  I am not just going to pick something off the shelf and throw it at you just because everyone else is keen on it for five minutes.  The Tickle-Me-Elmo Approach doesn’t really work for me.

crop shot from the cover of "From The Files Of Mike Hammer"Likewise, I’m not going to say “You should read this!” about a book *I* am currently reading, just because I happen to find it enjoyable.  If you read to escape, have a 6th grade vocabulary level (most people do), and prefer graphic novels in the fantasy genre, books like Monster of God or The Black Count are probably not for you.  Just as I wouldn’t recommend the 16-oz ribeye platter to a dedicated vegan or take my 63-yr-old mother shopping at a clothing store that caters to teens, neither would I recommend a Mike Hammer novel to a pacifist or The Story Of O to a 12-yr-old who is curious about sex.  The recommendation has to ‘fit’.

If I *know* you, and you ask me to recommend a book, I will ask you a few questions and then possibly throw out a title or an author I think you might enjoy.  If I am in a relationship with you, books are something we discuss fairly frequently.  I will, in that case, pass along a book for you to read – if and when you feel like it – that I believe you would enjoy.  Occasionally, if a fellow blogger is discussing a book they’ve read or an author they appreciate, I may comment in a “you may also like __________” fashion.  (Which can be an interesting social experiment.  People tend to have very limited ideas of what a ‘sex blogger’ would read or recommend.)

If I don’t know you (and it’s shocking how many people who don’t know me will ask me about books)…  Well…

I try to take an Ask Me Anything approach to life.  Sex, money, marriage, travel, health, pets, education, community, kink…  If I want to know something, I’m not afraid to ask.  I try to encourage others to do the same.  So go ahead.  Ask me anything.

Just don’t ask me for a book recommendation.

book spine poem

A book spine poem, on the other hand…
That, I can do.

16 thoughts on “Ask me anything. Just don’t ask me for a book recommendation.

  1. K. Quinn

    A well thought-out post on the nuances of requested recommendations.
    I love books too, especially old ones, if only initially for their appearance. When I was around 12 I wandered into an old-fashioned bookstore, with the dust and ladders, and bought a beat up ostrich-leather bound copy of Tennyson’s work for 50c because I liked how it looked–I had the ‘vintage virus’ even then haha. (I later appreciated its contents.)
    My ‘ask anything’ question: does your sweet kitty ‘help’ you read by wedging him or herself between you and the book, as mine does? haha

    Reply
    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      My kitty is a bibliophile. (Bibliofeline?) He snuggles on my lap as soon as I have a book in my hands, and if he is feeling neglected, he’ll head-butt whatever I’m reading until he gets his luvs. 🙂

      Very cool about the Tennyson. I have an illustrated book of his poems put out by Chicago Press, copyrighted 1892. It’s not in great shape, nor is it terrible. I have older books in better condition and newer ones in worse, but it’s a cool thing to have nonetheless.

      Do you collect antiquarian books?

      Reply
      1. K. Quinn

        I’m not a serious collector although I had a bunch that I’d crossed paths with by chance.. I’d found books from 1864 – when Lincoln was Prez ! – left behind as trash at the fleamarket ! Surviving books out in the public from that time were usually essays, or medical, with them going on about female ‘hysteria’. I’m nuts about those marbled endpapers and embossed covers of the old books.
        The Tennyson I found had the lovely illustration of the Lady of Chaillot (sp?), the sad babe in the boat. . haha
        K. Quinn recently posted…New Themes: TextBook and DaraMy Profile

        Reply
          1. Mrs Fever Post author

            New themes? I’m not sure. Are you referring to the tag on my post? If so, there’s a visual that repeats. I didn’t do it intentionally, but once I’d taken my photos and inserted them in the post, I noticed it. I thought maybe others might as well. 🙂

        1. Mrs Fever Post author

          It’s amazing what people consider “trash” sometimes.

          The other thing that survives printing is religious whatnot-ery. I have an ooolllld book that my mother found – printed in script, not type – called The Afflicted Man’s Companion. From the title, I thought it would be folk medicine. NOPE. It’s full of sermons, essentially. A bunch of “thou shalt not”s and ‘glory be to those who suffer’ type preachy prose. Very dated, and some of it very VERY weird.

          Reply
          1. K. Quinn

            I found a beat up book from around 1885 telling how to make stuff… like PAINT, wagon wheels, elixers with over the counter opiates in them !. . how to mill flour, make a rope, etc etc fascinating

  2. Tom

    As someone who is in the position of recommending books for a living, I know how hard this can be. My favorite author is the Japanese surrealist novelist Haruki Murakami. When some old lady at the circulation desk asks me what I’m reading, I’m often tempted to recommend Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. See what she thinks of that.

    Reply
    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      I thought of you when I was writing this. (And of your ‘accent’ tale about looking for books about whores. 😉 ) Interestingly, one of the people who asked me for a book recommendation recently is also a librarian.

      I’ve not yet read any Murakami. It’s one of those things I keep meaning to get around to. Perhaps I’ll look for Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman next time I frequent my favorite bookstore. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      Hahaha! Well, some folks *do* get confused when they see a racy title but get a tome on philosophy. 😉 What you see ain’t necessarily what you get!

      Reply
  3. Bill

    I once tried to buy a display book at a furniture store. They had went to Goodwill or somewhere and bought a bunch of random books to use with their furniture displays. I forget what it was titled, but they wouldn’t sell me just the book.

    Most dictionaries end with Zymurgy.

    Reply
      1. Bill

        Other than they wanted me to buy the end table it was displayed on, I don’t really know. They also told me it was the first time anybody had asked about the books.

        Reply
        1. Mrs Fever Post author

          Sounds like a missed marketing opportunity to me.

          “Why yes, as a matter of fact, that book IS available for purchase. It costs $295.97, and comes with a shelving unit of your choice.”

          Reply

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