Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

Guest Post by Linda White: How Do You Decide What to Read Next?

By Linda White

In doing research for a recent client, I recently came across a subterranean (or maybe not so hidden) realm of book and literary sites. I can’t believe I didn’t find them before. I’ve been working at home for over a year now, and you would think that with all the hours I have logged surfing, I would have found them months ago (oh yeah, and all those years I worked in publishing, too). I have recently laughed at McSweeney’s, got lost in The Millions, and have completely enjoyed the bloggers on Huffington Post (Jason Pinter, etc). I have read more of Salon than ever before, and my list of bookmarks is growing.

I also have a few solo literary bloggers that I like to visit. The Lit Witch is one, Jodi Chromey another. Then there’s the National Book Examiner, Michelle Kerns. Her treatise on book reviewing is enough to send me. I went from links in her story to links in the NY Times Paper Cuts blog. One story they did had over 200 comments. I was particularly stricken by Comment 254. I laughed so hard I cried. I love it when book people are also word people.

I have stayed up til 2am chasing links, chased them in the middle of the day when I should be working (wait, isn’t this work?), and found the most delightful associations through them.

I chased some links in a blog recommended to me – BookFox – and found links to Jodi Chromey, who did a profile on Jeff Kamin, who runs Bars and Books (a book club in Minneapolis), and then discovered that he is the Forbes book blogger, and he is now looking at a review copy of my current client’s book. Oh, and he also lives in town here so I can actually meet him, and work up a profile on him for one of my online columns. That is downright handy.

I was led to a great article recently in The Nation about book reviewing, but was saddened to find they listed my own local paper as one lacking book coverage – the Star Tribune. I assure you, it is excellent and in good health. I rely heavily on our local Books editor to keep me up to date.

Recently I’ve discovered Ward Six, The Big Other, and the Quarterly Conversation. I haven’t quite looked them over yet. I have always known about Arts & Letters Daily, and for a long time that was my go-to place on the web for current buzz. But I forgot about it for a time, until a friend recommended it to me.

In the past, I relied heavily on PW, the NPR Books website and book catalogs such as Bas Bleu for new reads. I review books, so that helps, too. I read BookPage and I have often looked at award lists and those year-end lists everyone cooks up – even cooked up a half-baked one myself.


I don’t follow particular reviewers, but instead read the reviews of the books that sound interesting to me. My TBR pile is teetering. I have far too many books checked out of the library, and my requests there are getting to be too much to keep track of. I get a lot of suggestions from the two book clubs I belong to. I also find I own several volumes that I will definitely need to read soon. I always knew there was a big wide world of discussion going on, but I guess I didn’t look deep enough. I have found most of these book websites in the past month. All you have to do is drill, baby, drill! And in a good way, mind you.