Discovering new writers

I’m a book nerd among others. I love reading, although the time sometimes is lacking and I’m quite far off from the end of my queue of books to read. In particular, just before leaving for Dublin I got the collection of Ian Fleming’s novels for $2/each through Amazon and their Amazon Local deals. But while I have quite a few authors that I absolutely love, and to which I turn when I want to have an enjoyable read, I also like discovering new authors and new series.

Once upon a time, I used to listen to a BBC books podcast; that podcast is no more nowadays, but it made me discover one of my favourite books ever, The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway — and the author of the book as well, since I also loved his Angelmaker which I bought as soon as it came out. I also read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which I did not like as much but was not a bad read.

Unfortunately the podcast is now gone. I tried a few alternatives but none seems to be the kind of not-too-heavy and interesting programme that I used to listen to. So I needed a different source for discovering new authors and series. Suggestions by readers and other friends are obviously quite useful, but that usually bring me to fill my wishlist with new books that I haven’t bought yet.

What did help me last time to discover something new has been The Humble eBook Bundle which made me discover Mercedes Lackey, Invasion and the Secret World Chronicles — I look forward to read the second part, I’m trying to consume the rest of the queue before buying anything new.

It’s not just that buying the Bundle makes it cheaper – although I admit it does – but there’s also the fact that by mixing well-known authors together with newcomers, you know that you won’t be disappointed with the expense. In the case of the first bundle, I had the comics from penny Arcade, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and XKCD that I was very happy with getting, everything else would have been fine even if it completely sucked, luckily it didn’t though. With the second eBook bundle, I was happy with getting Doctorow’s book as well as Wil Wheaton. I haven’t gotten around reading them but I’m sure they are going to be quite the read.

Another, different approach is the one I tried to take with Amazon Local deals. I’m still subscribed to the Los Angeles deals, and it seems like every other month they come up with a “Get these Kindle titles at $1/each” kind of deal. Last time I decided to try some new authors, in the thriller/crime novel genre. Of these, I ended up buying a craptastic one which I’m going to recommend everybody not to read. It was unfortunate, at least it was only $1.

I’m still looking forward for more book recommendation — I really wish there was an alternative to Amazon’s “Recommended for you”, more like “Your friends read these books”, but even Anobii seems to be basically in non-maintenance mode. If you have some suggestions on podcasts to follow for new books coming out, I’m all ears (pun intended), so let me know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Discovering new writers

  1. I do a ton of digging into Amazon general recommendations in addition to specific ones for books I enjoyed. A good 95% of my new purchases come from those or top-selling books in extremely narrow subcategories of sci-fi or fantasy.The Baen monthly bundle is also pretty good. So are sites like Shelfari, GoodReads, Slice Bookshelf, etc

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  2. Yes I guess Amazon is the leading providers of *good* targeted recommendations. I’ll look at the other sites you named, I think I only knew GoodReads by name, and not even heard of the others!The Baen bundle sounds like possibly a good idea. After all it’s Baen who publishes Mercedes Lackey — and generally speaking I find that often times the publisher is a good indication on whether the books can be good or not.

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