But once you tell the interwebs a little more about yourself, like you just published a book, then the ads and the suggested posts and pins and tweets get more and more focused. I’ve shared some of the items that come my way because it seemed the thing to do: Umberto Eco, Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison, and a host of other heavyweights have plenty to say about writing, and who am I to ignore their wisdom? No prob—I’ll pass it on.
But what about the other stuff? The funny thing is, these customized book-related ads and posts have even less to do with me than does the “Santa Fe Mom” who wants to tell me about the “5 Foods to Never Eat.” (If you don’t see that ad every time you launch Google, then you must be young, male, and/or very fit.)
Here’s the thing: I’m a writer and I love books, but not in the way the search engines and social media platforms assume I do.
First, I don’t need any bookcases, so the American Home Furniture ads can just shut up about it. To me, a great book is like a great meal—far better when shared. To a large degree, my favorite books are the ones I don’t own anymore because I’ve passed them on to other passionate readers.
Second, although I’m always reading, I am the worst, the absolute worst person in the world, when it comes to reading the hottest new books. It’s not that I’m not interested in what’s new—I can spend hours in my favorite bookstore, Collected Works in downtown Santa Fe, admiring well-designed covers and skimming jacket blurbs and standing riveted as I read passages from whatever book my hand just touched. I do my best not to crack the spines as I ogle their wonderfulness, wishing I could take every one home.
But I’m also a busy, distracted, and sort of oblivious person. I wear clothes that haven’t been in style since the first Obama administration—or maybe even the first Bush administration. I forget I’m supposed to hate my kitchen cabinets because whitewashed maple hasn’t been it since 1990. I don’t have time to want things like Pandora bracelets. And although I probably shouldn’t admit it, I read in the same way.
In addition to the young beauties that woo me at Collected Works, I also love wallflower books—the overlooked novels of otherwise-famous writers, odd paperbacks that friends lend me, books that emerging authors ask me to review, lovingly worn books I find at garage sales, books that jump out at me in the library, and the classics I never got around to reading in college, which are anything but young and freshfaced. Sure, new books thrill me, but in truth, I’m a pretty democratic, equal-opportunity reader—nearly all books thrill me.
So when I finally get my author pages set up on Kindred Readers and Goodreads and I begin to build my “bookshelf,” it might not look as zippy and fashionable as one might expect. Think of it as a place where you can enter and relax, where books are not judged by their covers or by their reviews on Amazon. This isn’t high school, after all, where worth is so often judged by looks and popularity. This will be the real, adult world, a place where books of all stripes can be loved and appreciated for who they truly are.