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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wall Street Journal: Finding the Right Book to Give

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal has an article called "Literary Profiling" in which the paper created six profiles and various book experts suggested good titles for these types of readers. For example, one profile is a 28-year-old artist who likes to read since fiction. Another is an 81-year-old retired physician who likes tennis and politics, and reads biography and idea-driven books.

I think someone at the WSJ has been watching too many police programs on television. With the exception of children and teenagers, where paying attention to the reader's age makes sense, I don't agree with the assumptions about age and gender behind this article.

For example, two books from the story are in my current "to read" pile. First, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which won the Man Booker Prize. In the WSJ article, this is a book recommended for an 81-year-old man. Now, I recently had a birthday, but am still well distanced from 81, thank you very much. The second was recommended for the artsy, 28-year-old, male science fiction reader: Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, a pair of novellas by Geoff Dyer. Am I interested in art? Yes, but there are a few years between me and 28.

Ah well, age is just a number and with respect to adults, age and gender have little correlation to taste in books, in my opinion. Check out the article, nonetheless. The online version is fun to play around with and you may find some titles in the various categories that appeal to you, or the folks on your holiday gift list.

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