Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Word of Mouth

by KJ Howe

When I read THE END of a phenomenal book, the first thing I want to do is share my find with friends, family, and like-minded people. From the transformational abilities of self-help books to the powerful escapism of fiction, a good book can change our lives. Word of mouth is one of the fastest ways for a book to hit the bestseller lists (other than being featured on Oprah!). Just think of the success of TWILIGHT or THE CELESTINE PROPHECY. Both books inspired a loyal following and people kept spreading the word.

I recently read THE SEVEN LEVELS OF INTIMACY by Matthew Kelly, an incredible book about our relationships with ourselves and others. It definitely transformed my way of thinking about intimacy in all relationships--and I hope if you give it a read, you will also be changed in a positive way.

What are some of the books you would like to recommend to the Banditas and crew? Have you ever been deeply disappointed by a friend's recommendation? I'd love to hear about your experiences and maybe we'll all get a few great reads out of this post!

Thanks! KJ


Virginia said...

Come to me my golden one!

Virginia said...

Great post! I have never been disappointed in a book that someone has recommended to me! Most of the time if a friend says its good then it is!

I just finished a book by a new author Kaki Warner called Pieces of Sky. Its a western romance and I loved this book. It got me on the first page and I didn't want to put it down! My sister can't wait to get her hands on it. We have both been into the western romances lately for some reason!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Congrats VIrginia! I think you should put the GR to work on responding to some of those book blog contests we talked about.

I'm curious KJ as to why you found this book transforming. How did it change your thoughts about intimacy? While I like a recommendation, when it comes to self-help books, I like to know if it sounds like something I need help with (grin).

The most recent book recommendation that I can recall came from Christine Wells on her blog of about a month ago - and I think she got the recommendation from Anna C. It was the mystery "What Angels Fear" by C. S. Harris. I really enjoyed it and will have to get the next in the series.

Gillian Layne said...

Um...the Virgin River series. I read the first one on the first day of spring break last week, and plowed through all 9 (9? or somewhere in there) that week. And my girls just laughed when they'd walk by my desk and I'd be reading and crying and drinking my diet Coke. Those books are a powerhouse of well-done characterization and believable emotions. And HEA's. So they're my most recent favorite reads. And I haven't had the same reaction to the rest of Robyn Carr's work, although it's all well done. Just something about Virgin River.

My steadfast favorite book is The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R King. It's perfect, to me at least, in every way, shape and form. Perfect. Sometimes I have to remind myself the characters aren't real. When the next installment of Russell and Holmes comes out at the end of April, I'm taking a personal day from work to curl up in my local coffee shop and read. :)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Virginia! One rooster for you!

KJ, that book sounds really interesting. Always looking for great things to read. A couple of books I've really enjoyed lately are Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) and Forbidden by Christina Phillips. Forbidden was an advance copy - the book's out in September. It's about the passionate love between a Roman centurion and a Druid priestess and it's really compelling. Currently reading THE STONES OF ARAN: LABYRINTH by Tim Robinson. This is long and really leisurely and it really takes you away to another world, this wild, windswept island off the coast of Ireland. I read the first volume, PILGRIMAGE, last year and really enjoyed it and this one just keeps up the wonderful writing.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Virginia.

I read a lot of romantic suspense, thrillers and mysteries and so I would usually tell friends about my favorite Agatha Christie stories and also recommend Allison Brennan and Karen Rose.

Minna said...

In the case of me and my friends it's more like: "I have these books I need to get rid of. What books have you got to trade?"

Kuorosota 2010 - "Lautturi" [Ilkan kuoro, Joensuu]

Helen said...

Well done Virgina have fun with him

Really good post KJ I love getting book recomendations and have never been disappointed with one.

Anna C recomended Pamela Palmer's Feral Warrior series and it is awesome there are 3 out in this series so far and none of them are put downable and this is something coming from a real historical reader another book I read this year that was not put downable is Anna C's Captive Of Sin wow is this book fantastic.

Looking forward to everyone's recomendations I am sure my must have list is going to grow I love it LOL

I am really enjoying Suz's book Refuge that is coming out by chapters weekly as well at the moment and I am just about to finish Karen Ranney's Sold To The Laird I really enjoy Karen's books.

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, cool that my recommendations are hitting the spot with some of you girls. Helen, so glad you're enjoying Pam's books and Donna, the C.S. Harrises are fantastic. I just read the fifth one, What Remains of Heaven. Wow, what a great story. Helen, you're a darling mentioning COS. I'm so happy you loved it!

Marisa O'Neill said...

I love to get book recommendations - and when I read a really good book I want to share the love. For paranormal fans I recently read the first two books in Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series, Angel's Blood and Archangel's Kiss, I fell in love with the characters and the mythology. Also read Andre Agassi's autobiography Open and it blew me away (and I'm not a sports fan in any way, shape or form). I also recently re-read Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China - a biography of 3 generations of women living in China - still one of my all time favorite books.

Looking forward to other recs - cause like I always say - there's a book waiting to be read.

Kim Howe said...

Congrats on the GR, Virginia!

Thanks for the recommendation. I haven't read a western romance in way too long--and I miss cowboy boots!

Kim Howe said...

Hey Donna,

The book has many lessons, but a couple of the ones that stood out for me was how every decision/choice we make should be made based on becoming the "best version of ourselves" that we can be.

Also, when it comes to relationships, we can analyze the level of intimacy in them by looking at how many of the seven steps we engage in.

It's one of those books that has a nugget of wisdom on every page and the author is a very engaging writer. I hope you give it a try as I would rate it in my top five self-help books ever.

Kim Howe said...

Gillian, what a recommendation--taking a day off to read a book--love it! I hope you enjoy every second of that day.

Kim Howe said...

Anna C, thanks for the recommendations. I read EAT, PRAY, LOVE, so I think I'll check out COMMITTED to see what happens to her!

Kim Howe said...

Helen, you have great taste, loving Anna C, Suz and Pamela!

Kim Howe said...

Jane, I also am a fan of Agatha Christie! Which book is your favorite?

Kim Howe said...

Minna, LOL on your book-trading philosophy. Sounds like you're an avid reader!

Kim Howe said...

Marisa, I just bought OPEN by Agassi because a friend said it was the best book she's read in a long time! I'm happy that you loved it too. Thanks for sharing.

Deb said...

Are we talking about "deep", thinking books or reading for pleasure?

I think any book can be my fave at the time I'm reading it and if I am really enjoying it. I would have to say my all-time fave is ROMANCING MR. BRIDGERTON by JQ. Not that it was better writing than anyone else's, but, rather, because I related and connected to the heroine Penelope.

A long time ago I read THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES and thought that it was so true, especially of men, how people say "I love you." (Men moreso through actions rather than words.)

A couple of years ago I read THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE and learned a lot about myself and the Lord.

Kim Howe said...

Deb, thanks for sharing your recommendations. I'm intrigued by The Five Love Languages book.

Nancy said...

Virginia, congrats on the GR. I hope you have some work for him. I'm glad you've found books lately that you liked.

Nancy said...

KJ, you may remember that about half the Lair urged me to read the Eve Dallas books, which sucked me right in. You recommended Jon Land, and I liked those.

Recommendations I'd make . . . hmm.

For writers: Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham, which explains how to have a scene and sequel that DO something, as opposed to being nice little vignettes where nothing actually happens. Strunk & White, The Elements of Style, which will teach people where to put commas and how to avoid the most common stylistic pitfalls, a slim book and pricey for its size but invaluable, imho. Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon--also helpful with having scenes that go somewhere, and Break into Fiction by Dianna Love and Mary Buckham, which is immensely helpful in meshing character development and story arc.

To read for the pleasure of it--Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series (I'm going to have to hurt Certain People around here if they don't read it, like, SOON), Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, Georgette Heyer's Frederica, Frank Herbert's Dune, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles (book 1 is The Game of Kings), Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey.

Too many to list in romance, alas.

Yes, I've been disappointed on occasion. Sometimes a book doesn't quite mesh with my taste even though it may with a friend's.

Minna said...

Yep, I'm an avid reader and trader. Some of the books I've been able to get by trading have turned out to be keepers, like this one book by Stephanie Laurens or Dragon Lovers by various authors. But I'm more likely to get more keepers when I'm actually buying the books. It's mostly because when I'm trading my books for other books I'm not nowhere near as picky as when I'm buying books. I just want to get rid of the books I don't wish to keep anymore. Although lately I haven't been trading my books for other books, because I've tried get rid of part of my small mountain of books by trading them for something else or by just selling them. I managed to get rid of one book bag and I still have 2 left. Getting rid of the books that are in English isn't too much of a problem, but I'm yet to find someone who would take those Swedish translations of romance books from my hands.

Another Day Goes By (Mr Green)

Fastball - The Way

Tomas Ledin - Sommaren är kort

Suzanne Welsh said...

KJ I just finished two Bandit books which I'd highly recommend. Kate's If Books Could Kill, which had me laughing over and over, and Jeanne's Dark and Deadly.

For series books, I've been following Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick Arcane Society series. She carries the theme back and forth through time and two generations of psychics and their psychic mates. What amazes me is how fast these books are hitting the shelves. 3-4/year.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh Helen, am so glad you're enjoying REFUGE! :)

Thanks for recommending it here!

Anna Sugden said...

Interesting post, KJ. I get so many great recommendations here in the Lair, it's no wonder my TBR mountain is taking over my office.

Funnily enough, like Donna, I too really enjoyed CS Harris' Where Angels Fear after her visit here with Christine.

My hubby recommended Thomas Perry's Jane Whitefield series - about a woman who helps people disappear - when I was looking at how to write my books about The SAFe Network.

I've read some great books about hockey thanks to recommendations by my favourite hockey podcast - The Puck Podcast. They really help add flavour to my hockey hunk books.

My favourite recommendation story involves our very own Suz, who is a bit of a Julie Garwood fan *g*. So, there I was in an airport, delayed for six hours and run out of books to read. The bookstore was limited, but they did have one copy of Julie's Murder List - one of her suspenses. So, based on Suz's fan-girldom, I gave her a go and was so glad I did!

Anna Sugden said...

Forgot to say that yes, I have been disappointed by friends' recommendations, but they always tend to be literary books or popular literary bestsellers that 'one must read'. I've never been let down by a romance reader's recommendation!

MsHellion said...


I read Ken Robinson's The Element. It was extremely inspiring; and I highly recommend. It was about finding your passion and using your passion to have the career you should have. Funny and thought provoking.

I also read Moloka'i by Alan Bennet, which was very well written and thought provoking (it's about leprosy, it reminds you of the AIDs epidemic)--but it was also very sad. I recommend reading a funny book after. *LOL*

Louisa Cornell said...

Yay Virginia! See if you can get some book recommendations out of the GR !!

I started the C.S. Harris series on a recommendation from La Campbell and I absolutely LOVE it! I haven't read the latest yet as I am saving it for after I finish revisions of Book 3. Finished revisions on Book 2 last week. (YAY!) The St. Cyr series is amazing.

Like you, VraiAnna, I have had many disappointments in book recommendations of popular fiction and those literary books that were supposed to be these fabulous reads. I read The Road and good Lord! DEPRESSING!

One that didn't disappoint was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Berendt. GREAT BOOK!!

Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook is another mainstream book someone recommended that just blew me away right up to the last page.

Another series I can't recommend highly enough is the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The hero is dark, brooding, charismatic and one of the most psychologically complex men you will ever read. The stories are thrillers, psychological studies, weird science lessons and history lessons into some of the most obscure and fascinating trivia you will ever read. Definitely great stuff.

And no, I have never received a romance recommendation that wasn't terrific.

Suzanne Welsh said...

My favourite recommendation story involves our very own Suz, who is a bit of a Julie Garwood fan *g*. So, there I was in an airport, delayed for six hours and run out of books to read. The bookstore was limited, but they did have one copy of Julie's Murder List - one of her suspenses. So, based on Suz's fan-girldom, I gave her a go and was so glad I did!...

VAnna I'm so glad you enjoyed JG's book! I've hooked many a reader on her by just handing them a copy of SAVING GRACE. (I have 2 copies, one really worn out one I give to people to read and one good one on my keeper shelf.)

At work people will ask me, "I'm wanting to start reading more, what do you recommend?" I usually ask them what they like. Contemporary or historical? Suspense or humor? Sexy or sweet? Real world or parnormal? Then I make a recommendation, show them the author's website or even offer to loan them a copy to get them started. Usually, I'm spot on for them.

Janga said...

I just started Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire by Leslie Carroll. I read Royal Affairs: A Lusty Romp Through the Extramarital Adventures That Rocked the British Empire after Susan King interviewed the author on Word Wenches, and it was such great entertainment that I knew I wanted to read the second book. If you like your history well-written and well-researched along with great stories and a generous sprinkling of laughter, I recommend Carroll's books.

I'm rarely disappointed in a recommendation from a friend. The most recent successful rec (from two friends actually) was Karina Bliss's What the Librarian Did, which I loved so much that I'm all set for a Bliss glom.

Louisa Cornell said...

One way I recommend books is to include bookmarks of books I recommend in the envelope when I give a bookstore gift card. I always include Bandita Bookmarks when I give giftcards!

Susan Sey said...

Hi, KJ--

My mom is usually the biggest adder to my TBR pile and I get great suggestions from her. But have learned that when it comes to thrillers, she likes Nelson DeMille cold war stuff where everybody's named something full of krgyystrycczkc and I can't tell anybody apart. I've finally learned my lesson there. :-)

My husband just made me read What is the What by Dave Eggers & one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan, & for a while I couldn't really tell if I enjoyed it. But I did, so I'll recommend it.

And now I"m off to read the comments to see if there's anything that needs to added to my TBR pile. :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Really loving the recommendations. Janga, I just ordered the Royal Affairs book from the Book Depository. You've never led me wrong yet!

Louisa, what a good idea to send out bookmarks. I usually include bookmarks from other writers when I send off a prize. Nice bit of cross promotion.

I'm fascinated by the Preston/Lincoln books you mentioned. When are they set and what's the first one? I went to the Book Depository but there seem to be quite a lot of them and a lot have been published on the same date. I like to read series in order!

Louisa Cornell said...

Here is the list in order, La Campbell !



Cabinet of Curiosities

Still Life with Crows

Brimstone - Part One of the Diogenes Trilogy

Dance of Death - Part Two of the Diogenes Trilogy

Book of the Dead - Part Three of the Diogenes Trilogy

The Wheel of Darkness

Cemetery Dance

Fever Dream (comes out in May)

I actually read Still Life With Crows first and immediately had to get the others. RELIC was made into a movie although they cut Pendergast's part out of it. There is still a HUGE debate on the fan site as to who could ever possibly play Pendergast.

The best part is that these books are written by two geeky guys - science geeks, lit geeks. One worked for the Museum of Natural History the other was an editor at St. Martin's for years and then quit to become a computer geek. They are basically these Renaissance guys who study anything that interests them to the nth degree and then include it in their books.

The books are set in the present day. They are such a meld of so many genres that I don't know what to call them except damned good reads!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, thanks, Louisa. I'll get right over to the Book Depository and order Relic. Really enjoying the recommendations here!

catslady said...

My 26 yr. old daughter and I share some books. We agree on some but definitely not all. She did get me to read the Twilight series and I did enjoy it but there's some books they I hated and she loved and I still haven't swayed her to read most of my romances (sigh).

Becke Davis said...

THE GIFT OF FEAR by Gavin de Becker. Fascinating book!

Kim Howe said...

Nancy, thanks for the incredible list of options. I've read most of the ones for writers and echo your recommendations. Now I'm off to Amazon to buy some of the fiction titles!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I have not read it myself since I just got the recommendation today at work but I was told the book "The Kite Runner" is fantastic.

If you like contempory and a nice laugh now and again, Jennifer Crusie is the way to go.

For westerns with romance I recommend Stacey Kayne, I had not read a western in years until she came to the lair for a visit and I was hooked.

For historicals, not even mentioning the Banditas I like Mary Balogh.

I recommend the published Banditas every chance I get.

Kim Howe said...

Suz, Bandita books are the best! I am also amazed how prolific Nora Roberts is--does she sleep???

PJ said...

Recommendations from friends is the reason I have an entire room in my house dedicated to my tbr pile. *G*

Last December I read a debut book that blew me away. It's "The School of Essential Ingredients" by Erica Bauermeister, about a woman who teaches a weekly cooking class and the students in her class. It's one of the most beautifully written stories I've read. Gannon reviewed the book for our blog and said, Erica Bauermeister's debut novel is a feast for the senses and the soul, filled with lush and evocative prose that will leave readers eager for a second helping. I agree!

I just finished a wonderful anthology called MORE THAN WORDS - Volume 6 which is a collection of five short stories honoring five women who have given back to their communities in extraordinary ways. The stories (romances) are not biographical but are inspired by each of the women. This is the sixth anthology published as part of the Harlequin More Than Words program which, according to their published objectives, was established to:

# Raise awareness about worthy causes that are of concern to women
# Provide financial assistance to these important charities
# Engage employees, authors and readers and the general public in worthy causes and provide opportunities for them to make a difference

The stories in Volume 6, which will be released April 1st, are by Joan Johnston, Robyn Carr, Christina Skye, Rochelle Alers and Maureen Child. They are powerful and inspiring. Keep your tissues handy!

Kim Howe said...

Susan, LOL on Nelson's style. I think your mom and I would get along just fine! Thanks for stopping by.

Kim Howe said...

Anna S, I echo your sentiment on romance readers...they know good books when they sink their teeth into them, and they are the most enthusiastic readers!

Kim Howe said...

Ms. Hellion, I'm definitely intrigued by THE ELEMENT. I'm going to check it out. Thanks!

Kim Howe said...

Louisa, I had the pleasure of meeting Thomas Cook at the Hawaii Writer's Conference--what a brilliant man. He has a way with words that is breathtaking!

Kim Howe said...

Becke, LOVE the Gift of Fear. It should be required reading for all women. Thanks for mentioning it.

Kim Howe said...

Dianna, I have read THE KITE RUNNER and can recommend it heartily. It was a moving story that will make you laugh and cry--and you will never want the story to end.

Kim Howe said...

catslady, Twilight was like trying to eat one potato chip...once I picked it up, I couldn't stop! LOL

Kim Howe said...

PJ, thanks for the unbelievable list of recommendations. I'm going to spend a bundle today!!!

Gannon Carr said...

I just finished THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett last week. It's an incredible book and is going to be a major motion picture by Dreamworks.

I laughed, cried, cheered and jeered through the whole book. Highly recommend it!

Becke Davis said...

Gannon, my daughter just finished The Help and she had the same reaction as you did. I'm going to try and borrow her copy - my book pile is too big as it is!

Kim Howe said...

Becke and Gannon, thanks for suggesting THE HELP...it's on all the best-seller lists!