Thursday, September 06, 2012

Happy Read a Book Day

Celebrated: Worldwide, but I can't find any information about where, when or how the event originated

Every day is Read a Book Day at Answer Girl headquarters. At the moment I have four different books going, which is on the high side even for me — two for work, one for Gaslight, and one for my own entertainment. Oh, and the manuscript I'm finishing a third pass on, which would count as five.

I don't see books as any kind of escape from life; instead, books are the frames I use to look at the world. Books — even and especially novels — explain things to me and show me truths I don't have the experience or insight to figure out on my own. Books are both records and dreams, and as an earlier incarnation of this blog discussed, books are the way I keep track of my own history.

But most people don't measure their lives in books, and the question of how people decide what to read has created entire industries. My own corner of the Internet has been roiled lately by the revelation that some authors have been gaming the system in sleazy ways, using false identities not only to praise their own books but also to trash competitors' books in online forums. It matters because the Internet has become many readers' primary source of word-of-mouth reading recommendations, as Amazon,, Goodreads and LibraryThing have moved into the roles once served by neighborhood booksellers and hometown librarians.

Tonight in Dublin my friends/colleagues/clients John Connolly and Declan Burke are launching BOOKS TO DIE FOR, an anthology of essays from the world's top crime writers in response to the question, "Which novel should all mystery fans read before they die?" The result is a 700-page collection that belongs not only in every serious reader's library, but also on the shelves of more casual readers — because if you only read 10 books a year, isn't it even more important to choose those books well?

I've been working on this book with Messrs. Connolly and Burke since the beginning of this year, and am proud of the result. It lands in the United States on October 2, just in time for Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, but you can pre-order it here. I promise not to do too much promotion here between now and then.

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