If reading more is on your resolution list, try these tips and tricks from local bookworms.
Beware of the blurb
A blurb is a quote that describes the book from someone other than the author of the book. She could be a critic at a media publication or another author. But according to Alicia Michielli of Talking Leaves, “Books are blurbed and described carelessly. I see a lot of descriptions like: if Harry Potter and Helen Gurley Brown had child, this is the book. But that’s only in the broadest sense, so paying too close attention to that can be a pitfall.” The only exception to this rule? According to Michielli, a blurb from an author you like and respect.
Join the club
Book clubs, with their built-in accountability of in-person meetings, can be a great way to make reading a shared experience. Many area bookstores offer groups that meet monthly, which give readers a deadline to work towards.
“It’s like an English class with wine, cheese and crackers,” said Tom McDonnell, who leads discussion the second Wednesday of every month at Dog Ears Bookstore in South Buffalo. This club tackles everything from character building to plot development, with recent book picks including Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer and All the Light We Cannot See. All are welcome, but if you attend, please bring a small donation.
Just Buffalo Literary Center (JBLC) likewise hosts Rowhouse Reads, which meets every other month at Rowhouse Bakery and Restaurant on Delaware Avenue. The $20 admission (which in-part benefits JBLC) includes a selection of bread boards, pizza, coffee, tea, beer or wine. This group is limited to 15 people.
**Related read: Books and brews: Buffalo Men's Book Club
Look to the stars
Celebrity readers also offer monthly recommendations on their social media platforms. Oprah (@Oprah), Reese Witherspoon (@reesesbookclubxhellosunshine), Emma Watson (@oursharedshelf) and NFL Quarterback Andrew Luck (@ALBookClub) are some of the star-studded clubs that may help you scout out your next great read.
Make it an event
“Reading shouldn’t only be a guilty pleasure for the beach or before you go to bed—but as something that is important and worth celebrating,” said Barbara Cole, artistic director at Just Buffalo Literary Center. And what better way to celebrate a finished book than by hearing the author speak? For this, Just Buffalo Literary Center offers the acclaimed BABEL series, which brings four of literature’s most important authors to Buffalo every year. There’s still time to assign yourself a book written by an author appearing later this year: scheduled to speak are Min Jin Lee (March 20) and George Saunders (April 18). The series, hosted at Kleinhans Music Hall, offers general admission tickets for $35 ($30, if you have a library card) and $10 for all students.
Love it or leave it
Don’t feel bad about pressing ESC on a book. “I usually give a book 50-100 pages. If I still don’t care, I have no problem giving it away, because there are more wonderful books than I will never have an opportunity to read. Life is too short to read a book you hate,” said Michielli.
As McDonnell said when I visited his South Buffalo shop, “Good, bad or ugly—you will learn something from every book.”
**Looking for your next read? See what's on our shelf »
Story topics: Wellness