So many books, so little time. If you're a book lover like me, the difficulty isn't so much in the choosing as in the sifting. How do you choose which of the many books you want to read in the limited time we all have? If you're choosing a book gift for someone, how do you decide which book is the right one - something which will give pleasure, delight, a new way of perceiving, a break from reality, and maybe even a little education? The answer is relatively simple--read a review.
Book reviews are the easiest way to find out what new, what's good (and bad), and where to spend your hard earned money. If you're a regular reader and want to keep abreast of new books on the market, you can subscribe to a number of free review services. There is, of course, my site The Compulsive Reader at www.compulsivereader.com/html, where every month or so you get an update on 10 new reviews on site, as well as access to our regular and generous book giveaways (can't resist a plug opportunity), but there are also many others, including www.kirkusreviews.com which allows you to subscribe to a weekly full text newsletter with reviews of new release books, the NY Times Book Reviews at www.nytimes.com/pages/books and The Guardian at http://books.guardian.co.uk. All of these provide exceptional reviews, often opinionated, but always substantiated, detailed, and full of exactly the kind of information you need to make an informed choice. All of these are also available in RSS and Podcast for those who prefer these forms of updates rather than newsletters. If you're not up for regular book updates, or are just looking to check out a few specific books to see if they make the perfect gift, just Google the book you're thinking of and you'll often find multiple reviews of that book to read. You can even try doing a Google search on topics like "best books for boys" or "top books for teen girls." A number of excellent lists have been compiled by teachers, librarians and reviewers to help you choose wisely. I did just that when I wanted a classic book for my well read eight year old (who had had rather too much of wizardry), and found some superb classics like Around the World in 80 Days and Arthur Ransome books, which I was then able to pick up for next to nothing on ebay.
Once you know what book you want, it's very easy to go into ebay, type in the title, find the best deal, and buy the book. ebay's
Books, Comics & Mags front page is very well structured, and you can browse by genre, scrolling through until you find something suitable. Some of the better sellers including reviews or links to them with their books. Being a book gal, I buy books for everyone (as a reviewer I tend to get my own free - but that's another guide!), and send them around the world by buying in the country that person lives in - ebay is a great way to do that - I just buy books from the UK ebay for my UK friends and the US ebay for my US family and friends, and books for my own children or local friends come from ebay Australia. It makes global gift giving a doddle, means I only need a week or two lead, and keeps the postage costs very low. However you choose your book, through reviews, serendipity or personal knowledge, you'll know that you're buying one of the longest lasting, most wonderful gifts you can give someone - and no batteries required (unless you buy an ebook, which is another story/guide altogether!). Imagine your best friend curled up in a cosy chair, utterly relaxed, blissfully lost in some other world, while totally and perfectly engaged. What better gift is there?