Happy New Year, Everyone! A new year, new beginnings– a sense of “do over” and second chances. For me, January also means that my book club will meet and hash out the twelve or so books we will read and discuss this year. The book club is composed of wildly intelligent and fun women who all have their own interests, likes, and reading habits, yet each year (for the last seventeen years) we have managed to hash out a list of books to read we can all agree upon. Come the end of January we will come together, armed with a few books to pitch to the group, then “vote” on the few we’ll take on for 2013. The book club is very useful for me, because it spurs me to read outside of my comfort zone, to take up books I never would have selected on my own, and to broaden my reading experience—and to my surprise I have made some new discoveries! Which brings me to ponder this question: How do people pick out books we want to read? I always have my antenna out for a good recommendation, so besides the ones selected for my book club reading assignment, I often get a recommendation from a colleague, or jot down titles based on author interviews I hear on the radio, or from magazine reviews. I’m also a great one for zeroing in on other books by the same author, once I discover someone I really like, but have at times been terribly disappointed with this tactic. And what about that cover, the one we are not supposed to judge the book by? If you were to ask publishers, the cover is all important, as are the blurbs provided by other well-known authors about the work. Do you check out Amazon, the customer reviews, and look at what the all-knowing Amazon computer has suggested for further reading based on your buying trends? That’s always amusing when a few different people with varying tastes sharing the same Amazon account. The poor marketing department must think a wildly bi-polar individual lives at my house. How about book awards? Are you influenced by books that have won major awards and make the effort to read them. Have you ever later scratched your head and really wondered why? I also have a “Book-a-Day” desk calendar, which gives a short review on all kinds of books. I tear off the ones I like, and add them to an over-stuffed notebook already filled with clippings and lists and reviews. There are on-line lists that provide more lists…there are a million book review BLOGs…and there are even books which recommend more books, such as the fat tome on my shelf entitled, “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.” January is here, and we can only read so many in a year. Sigh.