The Literary Blog Hop: Above the Influence

Literary Blog Hop
The Literary Blog Hop is a bi-weekly feature hosted by
The Blue Bookcase.  And it rocks.

Here is this week's topic:

What other outside influences affect your reading experience? Do you think these influences enhance or detract from the experience?

  This is a good question this week, because as a book blogger, I feel very influenced in my reading all the time.  As for the last part of the question, I do think that being influenced can detract from the experience, especially with books that have lots of hype, which produces expectations, and sometimes expectations can be a distraction.  However, I have expectations related to the publisher and book cover and all sorts of things, so I'm not sure they can be avoided.  Here are some categories of consistent influence in my reading, most of which I appreciate and which enhance my experience.

1.  Course Syllabi:  Classes I took in college and graduate school obviously influenced my reading during that period of my life.  There are many wonderful books I probably wouldn't have discovered if a professor hadn't suggested them.  Here is one such book, Waterland by Graham Swift, which I recommend to everyone:

2. The New York Times Book Review:  I've been a subscriber to the Times Book Review for about five years.  I am particularly a fan of their end of the year "best of" lists (honestly, I'm a fan of lists in general).  One book I discovered through these lists is Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser:

3. Recommendations from friends and family:  I do let recommendations influence my reading quite frequently, although I do know my own tastes and I usually won't read something if I know I won't like it, no matter how much everyone else does like it.  One great recent recommendation from my husband was for John Steinbeck's East of Eden:

4. The blogosphere buzz:  This is probably the one that has influenced my reading the most.  I never read recent releases unless they were by a familiar author, until I started blogging.  Although I have found lots of great books this way, my TBR has grown enormously.  One of my favorite books I was influenced to read by bloggers this year was Jennifer Egan, A Visit From The Goon Squad:

However, the blog hop asks this week what other influences we have, not the obvious.  So, mostly I would say that my own tastes as a reader influence me and my mood.  Mood, the weather, books are like meals that way.  Sometimes a thriller tastes a little better than a nonfiction book, or vice versa.  I've been reading so much for so long though that I really have an internal barometer that reads whether I am going to like something, and I can usually tell on the first page.  Despite all the other factors, if I pick up a book and don't get that something that works for me as a reader, I know I will struggle to finish it. 

So, those are my biggest influences.  What are yours?


  1. When it comes to books, it's hard not to be influenced one way or another. I have East of Eden on my TBR shelf which I'm really looking forward to getting to it this summer.

  2. my influences tend to be writers, in fact my route through literature was more of a paper chase, where one clue led to the next, or led me off on some strange/wild tangent – this solely depending on the degree of communication between myself and the last book read. Via this means, I discovered my path through the reading world, where one writer begat another, who begat another, who….., until, like some large shadow, this accumulation of the written word trailed behind me, to remain forever linked with some part of me, whether this is as a point in time, a recollection or, on a deeper level, as some elemental condition of who I am, and in the process became my personal library,this being the sum total of everything I’ve read.This lifetimes reading forms my key, my starting point, my guide and my level playing field, for everything I will read.

  3. PS, Loved Steven Millhauser's The Barnum Museum.

  4. I love lists. Honestly, the BBC Big Read list has probably been the greatest influence on my TBR pile. So far I've rarely been let down... I'll have to check out the Times.

    I also thought East of Eden was a great book. Have a great weekend!

  5. @Trish: You should definitely read East of Eden. It is long, but a fast read and it is a great summer book I think.

    @Parrish Lantern: The trail of books that lead into each other is a great trail to follow, and tells a story all its own, for sure.

    @Bibliomaniacs: Yes, I'm always letting lists grow my TBR. I shouldn't read them, but I can't help myself.

  6. Thanks for the comment on my post, I'm a new follower!
    I agree - I found a lot of great books through my English degree that I might not otherwise have come across

  7. @Nicki: Thanks for coming by the blog


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