Across a crowded room

Rebound relationships are best avoided, but I think Destiny steered me into this one.

It was springtime 2011, New York City.  I’d left the convention floor of Book Expo America to lug a bunch more free prepublication books down to the mailing center.  I piled my treasures into my designated shipping box and was making for the escalator when a random glance propelled me the opposite way.

The object of my interest languished forlornly on the “free for the taking” table–that sad collection point for items that other attendees had picked up but ultimately ditched as their own containers overflowed.

The stylish 30s black-and-white Conde Nast cover art sported an intriguing title: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.  I scooped it off the table and gladly afforded it space in my Round Rock-bound parcel.  That castoff copy of a first novel proved to be a favorite of the past year.

Your loss, jilter of Rules of Civility!  Thanks to you, I attained double rewards:  a top-notch novel and the satisfaction of recognizing a prize discarded by another. 

Not that Rules of Civility needs me anymore; the reviews are admirable (as evidenced in the author’s snazzy website).  It’s also a preferred choice of book groups, currently No. 14 on The List in Book Movement.

Bestsellers are wonderful in their glitzy way, but breakout books and underappreciated gems offer you the joy of discovering something fabulous before all your friends do. 

Perfect matches can lurk right under our noses in editor’s choice and reviewers’ “best of” lists.  One feature you’ll really enjoy (cover graphics for all titles!) is Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2011 spotlight; In Best Fiction, you’ll spy bestsellers like 11/22/63 and The Night Circus right alongside lesser-knowns like This Burns My Heart and We the Animals.

To fine-tune selections to your very specialized tastes, don’t miss the lists displayed on the left after you select a tab: dozens of tags including Nonfiction, Debut Fiction, Pulse-PoundersIndie Contemplative Fiction, Book Apps for the Very Youngest Readers, and much more.

Like me, you’ll know a good thing when you see it.

Leave a Reply