Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Before the Title, Past
A Nonfiction Column
By Willie Elliott

Facebook Takes the Place of Word-of-Mouth Book Recommendations

In the past we readers relied on information from book tours or word of mouth in selecting some of our reading. That activity, like many other, has been added to the social networks—especially Facebook.

A few months back, The Shack, by William Paul Young was discussed on Facebook and was read by several friends. Because of those discussions, both my wife and I read the book and found it to be a most enjoyable read.

The latest book to hit our portion of Facebook is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. One could go to Amazon and get a very good review of the book, but how would one know to go there without prior notice? Once there (at Amazon) one can listen to Zusak explain how the book came to being—events that were the crucial to writing of the book.

So how did we get to the point of knowing or wanting to go read about the book? Some word of mouth and then Facebook communication..

I was at the Post Office where Rhonda Meade is post mistress, and she told me that Mary Slone, a teacher in the local school district, said I should read this book. It should be noted that Miss Slone is an avid reader and her recommendations are nearly always on the mark.

I came home and started my segment of the conversation on Facebook by asking who had read the book and what did they think about it. I don't know that it happened this way, but I am betting it did: Miss Slone recommended the book to the local superintendent of school, who used to be Miss Slone's principal at South Floyd High School, and he read it and from reports I got enjoyed it very much.

Pam Paige Caudill wrote, “it is unusual and haunting. History always strikes me more deeply when I "see" what is was like through someone's life.” Her cousin Karen Paige Hall said, “I am pretty sure I have this on my Kindle but was waiting for a very uneventful point in my life to start reading it. I say uneventful because it seems like it is going to be a tough read.” Janet Lawson, former guidance counselor at South Floyd High said “I read this book. It was awesome.” Steven E. Estep, who recently finished his Ph.D said, “The Book Thief is great! It's also a good companion to McCarthy's The Road and the film Life Is Beautiful. You know, The Hunger Games is pretty great as well!

Nearly all these people who responded are in the teaching field, and it seems odd that all were so taken with the book when Amazon targets young adults as the core readers. Ada Brown, who lives in South Carolina, said a sixth grader read the book, but the girl's teacher said she would not teach the book to any class lower that tenth grade.

I now have the book and plan to start reading it as soon as I get my reviews and my column in for this month. I may get double use from this or as we sometimes say kill two birds with one stone by doing a column now and a review later on.

I can't personally recommend the book, but I think you have read enough from the people in this column to decide if this is a book for you.

2011 Past Columns

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