Monday, September 13, 2010

Are You a Book Pusher?

I define a book pusher as someone who, after reading an amazing book, can't help but try to convince everyone they have ever met to read said book.

I think most avid readers are book pushers, starting many sentences with "You HAVE to read {insert awesome title here}."

While, in essence, book blogging is just another form of book pushing, I actually don't consider myself a book pusher. Weird, right?

While I will promote a favorite book online until my fingers bleed, I'm kind of a real life book pushing failure. I'm so used to the people around me strongly disliking books, that when I come across someone actually wanting my suggestions I, well, suck.

For instance: my aunt-in-law (or something to that effect) always asks me if I've read anything good lately. I immediately freeze, try to think of something she might enjoy, mind completely blanking and claim that I have not. Only once have I ever managed to spit out the title of a book (The Passage) which she said she was going to get from the library immediately. Did I ever ask her if she did? Did I ask her if she liked it? No, of course not. I immediately forget the conversation until it happens again - roughly about once a month. It's really quite pathetic.

On other occasions, I meet friends of friends who know I'm a book blogger. They actively search me out for recommendations. I manage to have the forethought to ask what types of books they like. Turns out, their descriptions aren't on the same page as mine.

More examples: Woman says she likes trashy books. I spout off a few romance author names to get a feel of what she means by this. She looks at me in horror. She meant authors like Janet Evanovich. Um, ok. I try to suggest other books but now my credibility has been completely shot. How could I think she liked romance? In the end, I suggest the newest Stephanie Plum book. She didn't know it was out, but honestly, how much help was I? She would have read that one on her own eventually.

Another example: Woman asks for new release suggestions. She's in law enforcement and Blood Oath has just come out. She claims she doesn't like vampires, but liked Twilight. Is it like Twilight? I stare dumbfounded for a minute, unable to come up with any other suggestions off the top of my head. Finally, I just tell her it is like Twilight and to give it a try. Yeah, I'm sure that worked out well.

I have a tendency to be rather uncomfortable in spur-of-the-moment, right-off-the-top-of-your-head situations. It's why I stay away from public speaking. It's why I've always preferred emailing or texting to actually phone conversations. And it's why my book pushing abilities only shine while blogging. I need those extra few minutes, or even seconds, to collect my thoughts and figure out exactly what I want to say. I envy those who can immediately answer a question sounding intelligent and normal.

So, are you a book pusher in real life or just online like me? Do you have any stories about in person recommendations that'll make me look a little less sad?


  1. I am sooo just like you - I can't for the LIFE of me offer up a good book title - I mean to my sister, maybe - I just tell her to read the book and she does LOL...but my cousin was over and I was all gushing about how I have read 165 books this year so far, and all that - then she's like - so suggest something..., yeah - well what do you like to read I say...and she's all like adult romance but not trashy...UM I read first off YA mostly - though there are some good books in YA that I have read with a good romance - but could I think of one of them, NOPE!!!

    ARG!!! So frustrating, so course she's looking at me like I have 15 heads...she goes "I thought you have read 165 books this year, you cant recommend one?" UM...well, NOPE actually I cant.

    It's sad really!

  2. Once in a while I push a book - but it has to absolutely amazing (The Kite Runner comes to mind).

  3. Great post. I do have old, old favorites I buy used to give away--so that's easy pushing. I guess the first hit is free! Really, if a book moves me, I will tell people about it. If I close it and have forgotten all about it, it was a waste of time.

    Scott Nicholson

  4. why yes I'm a book pusher to all real life friends. I admit it freely.

    Reading some books thats others have recommeneded and loved. Pushed twilight onto real friends and the Iron daughter series too.

  5. This sounds a lot like me. I don't think I'm a book pusher at all. I always worry that the book I loved will be a total flop for someone else. So even if it's my favorite, I hesitate to recommend it. If I know someone's reading taste really well, I feel a little more confident. But mostly I avoid recommending books to people I know outside the blog world.

  6. I am definitely a book pusher, sort of. My family and family-in-law are not really readers and I'm so hesitant to suggest to them. I mean, what if they are offended by something or whatnot.

    When I worked at the library, I loved helping people find books, but reading your post here reminded me that I liked it and I didn't in a way. When someone would ask for suggestions, I would quiz them unmercifully trying to determine their likes. Sometimes it was so hard. Then I would start suggesting or take them around and start pulling books off the shelf. It was tough when I couldn't quite get what they wanted and I would find myself getting a little frantic and definitely pushy trying to please them. Whew! They would start looking a little cornered and scared and I would know it was time to bow out. I'm sweaty just remembering! LOL

  7. I am a book pusher!

    Great example: Sherrilyn Kenyon! I have my step-mom who pretty much goes ewww another paranormal book reading them. I talked about them so much that she picked them up (and loving them) to read them so she could tell me what she thought.

    Another example: When Blood Calls--I think I am a big book pusher when a book catches me off guard. I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was for me.

    I don't do the opposite though--if I don't like a book I won't make a big deal of how bad I thought it was. I will simply give my very short POV if asked.

  8. Oh yeah! Definitely! You just want people to experience something that you have enjoyed! Just incase they love it, they will always associate you with it! Lol!

    Which reminds me, have I ever submitted my published book here for review? Because after this post, I want to! Lol!

  9. Yes I am. If I like a book I'll tell my friends, family and coworkers about it. You have to spread the awesomeness around. Everyone has loved my recommendations too so I'm gonna keep at it.

  10. @Book Crazy Jenn - Yes, yes, yes! That always happens. When people find out I read over 200 books a year, they expect me to know what they'd like. Asking which was good is like asking a vegetarian what kind of vegetable someone would like. I mean, just because I loved it doesn't mean you won't hate it intensely. Taste in books is just so subjective that unless I know you very, very well or know some of your very favorite books, there is no possible way I'm going to be able to come up with a suggestion in a second or two.

    @Man of la Books - I have a few longtime favorites that I will push onto everyone, regardless of their tastes. The Stand, The Mists of Avalon, etc. Of course, these often backfire because while I LOVE them, they are very genre specific and those who don't like the genre won't like the books. Hate all apocalyptic scenarios? You aren't going to give The Stand a change. Hate any type of Arthurian novel? Same applies for The Mists of Avalon. Even the best f the best are a hard sell sometimes. - PS Never read The Kite Runner and I know I would go in biased because the subject matter isn't my taste.

    @author Scott Nicholson - Free? Huh, free might make it a little easier to convince someone to give something a try. And don't you just hate that - when you read a book and then afterwords can't even remember the basics or even worse if you read the book before?

    @My 5 Monkeys - I love when others push books on me. Most of the time, if they feel strongly enough to say - you gotta read this - the book is worth reading, even if it isn't something I'd normally pick up.

    @Julie - If I recommend one of my all-time favorite books and someone hates it - I feel weird. Like I know the book is amazing, so why didn't you like it? Maybe you just didn't get it. So, yeah, then I'm very hesitant to suggest the book to someone else, because maybe it isn't as universally appealing as I originally thought. Maybe it's just tailored to my personal tastes.

    @Kay - Librarians, people who work in bookstores, and others with jobs like that - I think it's amazing how they are able to answer "what would I like?" questions all day. It sounds so fun and nerve-wracking at the same time.

  11. @Felicia - I'm with you about when a book catches me off guard. If it's a surprise how amazing a book is, I do find myself trying to convince others to try it. Also, when I do travel outside my comfort zone and find something I love, it's actually doubly exciting for me. I want to tell others that I know they don't read this type of book, neither do I, but they have to because it blew my mind.

    @Jevron Mc Crory - That's a good point! I would like them to associate the awesomeness with me.

    @Jessica - That's very cool. Having a track record of providing great suggestions makes it easier for both you to recommend and the other person to trust your judgment.

  12. I am lot like you..I freeze when someone says have you read anything good lately...well yeah I have, but would they like it..hmm don't know..then I try and think and my mind goes blank..its why I have to write down everything I have read because sometimes I just can't remember since I read so

    I have a couple of people that I work with that like books and I might tell them about the latest book I am reading but I don't really push it, but I will tell them what I think about it.

  13. Yeah absolutely! I've been known to push books. I push books and reading in general too though. Alot of people get Borders or Barnes & Noble gift cards as presents from me. :)
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

  14. I love to "push" a book in my review but then I panic when someone says they are going to buy it based on my I always feel that although I may have loved the book it might not be their cup of tea and they will have wasted money because of me.

  15. Ugh I suck at this too. I have some books I gush about like crazy - but I have a hard time trying not to offend the people I know. One example of this blowing up in my face was someone told me they loved Twilight but wanted something "more grown up" and "darker" so I said "How about early Anita Blake or Sookie" so she went out and got em. Then emailed my husband to ask him if he knew I was reading that kind of stuff. She told him she was shocked by the stuff I read and was amazed I would even mention those kind of things in public.
    My mouth fell open when I read the email.
    My husband laughed and told me to stop telling people about my porn.

  16. Because I've previously been a librarian I was shoved into the position of figuring otu what to recommend pretty quickly. I do worry abotu recommending to family - they can always come back to haunt you about your choice. Need to stall for time? Ask what they liked about it. i.e. So what was it exactly you liked about Twilight? And then you can kind of take it from there - Vampires, romance, etc. :)

  17. If anyone asks me for a recommendation I usually have a list ready unless it's family who is asking. I cringe at picturing my grandmother or aunt reading the Demonica or BDB series. Thank goodness for me my family isn't a bunch of readers.

    Stephanie G
    Paranormal Haven

  18. No, not me. What I like or love might not be what they will like or love. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, but my best friend told me it was boring (wtf). Oh then, shopaholic series, we both love/like the series, but she doesn't like Becky Bloomwood, and I love her. :D Since then, I stop uhm, pushing or even just recommending books. I usually like what my friends recommend me though.

    I've sort of recommended a few friends Hunger Games series and I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, even though I haven't read them (wait! Before someone kills me, I'm just waiting for my copy of Mockingjay, then I'll find some time!), just because of the hype and/or movie. :p

    This way, it wouldn't be like they are disliking what I love, if they actually dislike them.

    I have just started book blogging, and I am still quite busy.. so.. no book pushing online at the moment!

  19. If someone asks me for a recommendation, I always reply with "Well, what have you read that you liked?" I can usually think of something that goes with the book(s) they mention. In extreme circumstances, you can always pretend to need that ladies' room urgently.

  20. I loved this post. And I know what you mean by needing a few moments to get your thoughts together. I do this in all aspects of my life...but it seems when it comes to books, I *can* spout off things right away. It is always easier however, when a particular book comes up in a conversation or people ask what I'm reading, not necessarily what they should read next.

  21. I am SUCH a book pusher! I am ok with coming up with something spur of the moment, unless it is someone wanting a recommendation for a genre I don't read. I tend to push one book/author on multiple people. I have tried to get most of my friends to read John Green and The Hunger Games series. I hand them the book and tell them they have two weeks to read it. I am quite pushy :-D

  22. Great post! I have to say that I used to be a huge book pusher but, like you pointed out in your awesome post, I kept getting shot down and it drove me nuts! People seem to think you can read their mind when you give them a book recommendation. Sorry all, my ESP expired :). Now I only recommend books to people I know really well, or to people who are willing to give any book a try!

  23. In real life, I'm only good at recommending books to a few close friends and family. They're the only ones whose taste I know well enough to say - hey you have to read this, or hey I know this is outside your usual range but I think you'll love it.

  24. Pretty much I start with 'do you like fantasy? no? Urban fantasy? no? historical romance? no? manga? no? guess I got nothing for you then'

    Often family members, or friends of family who hear I read voraciously, automatically assume that means I read all genres equally. Even when I protest and say I only read a handful on a regular basis they think I'm just being modest. 'How can you read 200 books a year and NOT read non-fiction/autobiographies/history/genre fiction/whatever else they name?'

    So I start out with asking if they like any of my categories, if they do I then ask about what sort of author they've read or heard of and from there I make recs.

  25. Well I'm a librarian so I guess I'm a "Professional Book Pusher" but yes, I actually do push a lot of books. I know what my family, friends, and co-workers like so I'm always recommending books to them. I also occassionaly push them to read things outside their comfort zone. Whether that means recommending YA to an adult reader or fantasy to a contemp reader.

    I've also talked to random people in bookstores and struck up convos based on the books they were holding. Several of them even bought the ones I suggested, others I'm sure were just being polite and wanted to be left the hell alone! ;)

  26. I'm pro at those conversations! I love when people ask me for recommendations! I generally ask what a few books they've really liked are, and then go from there. I love it! I thrive on it actually... But then again, I really like to talk to people, about anything really... It's just a bonus when I can talk about something I know well.

    And, I read a wide enough variety, that I can usually find at least one book that I've actually read, and a few I haven't to offer a person.

  27. I am without a doubt a book pusher! But isn't any book blogger?

    I buy paperbacks of books even if I own the eBook so I can give them out to others to read :)

  28. +JMJ+

    I think I used to be a book pusher. =P But then so many people who took my recommendations ended up disappointed in them that I felt bad and just gave up! =(

    So now I never really recommend anything. I make suggestions--and then add a self-deprecating warning that "nobody likes what I like, anyway." I'll bet that works out even better for me than your technique does for you! LOL!

    I think this is why I went into book blogging. It's safer to gush about books online than face-to-face. There's no sense of obligation to someone who recommends a book to you. And whenever someone comes back to comment that they read a book I wrote about and really liked it, well, that totally makes my day! =D

  29. I TOTALLY freeze up when I someone asks me for recommendations for a couple of reasons (a) it's what I do, freeze up, I mean (b) most of the peeps I associate with are non readers so it takes me off guard (c) sometimes i feel as if I'm reading too many books all at once I can't recall what I've read and (d) oh yeah, I just forget and freeze up. :)

  30. I am totally a book pusher. I read something good and I send a big group email out to everyone that I know telling them its great and that they should read it. A lot of the time though no one else likes it (especially my mother and sister).

    I do find it hard though when someone asks for a specific recommendation for them. Everyone has such different tastes. I definitely freeze up on occasion but not all the time

  31. I'm like you. I used to be a bigger book pusher but I think I am not as much of one as I used to be. I think it's because I blog about books all day I get it out of my system so when people ask me for book recommendations, I'm like "all books are good in there own way". I never used to be like that! I used to yearn for people to talk to about books but thank goodness that need is being met now!

  32. I try to be a book pusher but in real life no one wants book recommendations. Lol.

  33. @ladystorm - Exactly. I read many good books each year, but that doesn't mean that most other people will like them.

    @Lisa Gibson - I push reading on my kids. The adults in my life, not so much. If I gave anyone a giftcard to a bookstore, I doubt it would ever get used.

    @Karen - I think those of us who have book blogs have readers that grow to understand our varied tastes. You could love a blog, but now their recommendations wouldn't suit you and vice versa. I've had many readers come back and say they've bought a book because of a review I've written and while not all reactions to the books are positive, most are.

    @Lily of Darkness - I LOVE this story. I would have recommended the same series, since I read and love both that you mentioned. It would have never even dawned on me that someone would be offended by the material in the books, nevermind "tell" on me.

    @Raspberry - The step-by-step approach has been a little more successful for me, but most of the time people expect a spot-on recommendation immediately. Kind of like telling a comedian to be funny, telling a book blogger to name the perfect book for you is much harder than it sounds.

    @Paranormal Haven - My grandmother read the trashiest romance novels she could find, so she might not have been offended by dirtier bits in the books I could have suggested. Luckily she never asked, so I never had to find out. You never know where the line is with other people when it comes to sex, violence, "bad words" , etc.

    @Fi-chan - I recommended The Hunger Games to a friend because she wouldn't stop gushing about Twilight like it was the only book series on the planet. I was like - you like YA? Just try this. It's going to be a movie. You'll know about it before anyone else. I hoped to transfer some of her scary passion (she's 30 and obsessed) to something, anything new and while the 2 books are nothing alike, I couldn't possibly see how she wouldn't love it. I couldn't see how someone wouldn't love Harry Potter either, though.

    @Tiffany - Ahh, running away. Always a viable plan in every situation :)

  34. @Midnyte Reader - Yes, I can talk books right off the top of my head. That's fun without pressure to find the perfect answer.

    @caitieflum - Love the time limit. Not that anyone I know would follow it.

    @Jessica - Oh yeah. I'm good with people who have truly eclectic taste. Most people consider themselves to read anything when in reality they still only read certain genres. I'll give just about anything a try regardless of genre if it's suggested to me. If someone else is really willing to give anything a try, it makes it that much more easy for me.

    @carolsnotebook - See, this is where I'm lacking. I need more readers in my life.

    @Lexie - Love that. I think everyone assumes that if you read, you read the same things they do. Especially if they don't interact with a lot of other readers often. Before I started book blogging, I though everyone read whatever they came across regardless of genre. I never knew so many people only stuck to one or two genres until I came across so many genre-specific blogs.

    @Mollie - Oh, I think Professional Book Pusher is going on my resume. Not that it technically applies, but because I love it so much I've decided to claim it as my own. I don't talk much to strangers (what do you say? are they even interested? and yes, are they hoping to escape any minute?) due to that freezing on the spot thing.

    @Ashley - I'm completely jealous of your ability to talk to people like that. I can fake it, but my anxiety leans towards the social when dealing with people I don't know.

    @Tara SG - That is the question. I think I might have been more of a book pusher if I actually knew people who read in my offline life. Now it's mostly strangers and people I don't know well which somehow adds to the pressure.

    @Enbrethiliel - Love it when someone comes back and tells me they loved a book they picked up because of me. And I totally understand online being safer.

    @christina - Freezing up is awesome isn't it? It's the pressure, I swear. People just expect you to be all knowing, when in reality - reading 200 books a year may sound like a lot, but it's just a tiny percentage of the books published each year. I can't know all the books and be able to tell you which book published this year is the most perfect for you. No one can.

    @Becky - That's why I blog! Because I have no one to send the big mass email to.

    @Amused - Yep. I started this blog because no one wanted to talk about books. In fact these people had me convinced that no one read on purpose anymore. It was something you do when forced or trapped without any other form of entertainment. Crazy people. Talking here has definitely made it so I don't have to gush about the last awesome book I read to people who just don't care at all.

    @Amy - Aww, that's both funny and sad. And I'm totally in the same place.

  35. lmao! Janet Evanovich, romance! I don't think I'm a book pusher in the sense that I run around spewing the latest read I finished, but if someone asks I'm not shy about talking. I love the blogging end of it since I don't really use filters, like with my Eat Love Pray review. I can't remember the last time a family member asked if I read a good book.

    Tomes Devotee

  36. @luv46kdz - Evanovich has written straight romance novels, but the woman I was talking to meant her plum series. So, yeah. If asked about a specific book, I'm golden. If asked vaguely - what's good lately? - I'm at a complete loss.

  37. I try not to push books because then I feel a little bad if they don't like it. I'm especially protective of books I love. I've found it interesting that my current best friend doesn't share my same interests in books -- when I gush about a book, she gives it a 3 star, and vice versa.

  38. @Kim - Well, at least she doesn't hate them :) I'm protective of my favorites too.