Thursday, December 20, 2007

Feeding the Monkey

One of the most common questions I hear from people is, "How do you find new books?" Or its equally perplexing cousin "What about new music?" Don't act like you haven't asked this. I know you have. We ALL have.

So since I'm curious what works for you, I'll share my top 5 tricks for keeping my habit fed. So enjoy ... but don't forget to tell me what works for you!


My musical tastes are all over the map, with the highest concentration in the indie-pop-rock genre. But I like to get input for all types of music. I don't want to look like a fool when I'm out at the clubs trying to request Fujiya & Miyagi instead of something everyone knows like Justin Timberlake. It's all about balance.
  1. - I sit at a desk all day, and so it is relatively easy for me to listen to an online radio station. I like WOXY because they have a nice balance of really cutting edge and mildly cutting edge. And then they'll throw in a few old time favorites. There have been a lot of times when something I heard on WOXY ends up on mainstream radio ... months after I first heard it. Then I get to feel all superior, which is awesome.
  2. All Songs Considered - ASC offers two podcasts, you should get both. One is its regular show where they review new music and have guest DJs, the other is full concerts. Both are great and I've picked up on a lot of new artists here. The nice thing about ASC is that it isn't limited to a single genre.
  3. iTunes Single of the Week - For all of you iPod users out there, I hope you're downloading the iTunes single of the week. It's FREE, people, FREE! And while sometimes they have some wackadoodle stuff generally it's pretty cool. I'll frequently be listening to my iPod and say to myself, "I have this song?" and after looking at the screen, "Whoa. Cool! Thanks iTunes Single of the Week!"
  4. VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown and You Oughta Know Artists - OK, so this doesn't sound so super secret, but they've got some good stuff! I learned about Brandie Carlile and fell in love with Maroon 5's "Wake Up Call" video here. And other YOKA alums include Regina Spektor, Feist, and Rilo Kiley. Not bad company.
  5. iMixes - When you look up a song in iTunes there are a bunch of links to the right. Junk like ringtones and stuff, but there's also a section for iMixes. These are great for seeing what other people (presumably with similar taste) have chosen. I've found loads of interesting thing cruising these lists. They used to do celebrity mixes ... but I can't find those anymore. Next step for me is to publish my own iMix. When I do I'll share with y'all.
Most importantly you've got to stay organized! I use a couple of tools to manage my music (outside of iTunes). First, I use a Google Docs word document to keep track of any song/artist I hear that I like. I like to use this because it's online so if I hear a song at work I can jot it down, and then download it when I get home. AND I don't have to worry about scraps of paper or jump drives. Sexy.

Secondly, the only useful purpose for My Space anymore is the music section. I always rely on an artist's My Space page to listen to the full song before downloading it. (If it's available, that is.) And some of the less-established artists allow you to download from there. Niiiice.


The problem with books is that you just keep running out of them! I really have to work hard to keep a list on hand. These really help me out:

  1. Amazon's "Also Bought" and Listmania - I do all of my book research on Amazon, and I rely heavily on the recommendations they offer. I'm also getting addicted to the lists on Listmania. Some of my favorite books of the year came from these lists.
  2. Librarian's Choice @ your Library - Most libraries have a Librarian's Choice section or other special display. This is a great place to track down those books that you always meant to read and never quite got around to it. Bookstores also have employee recommendations, you could check them out too.
  3. Display Tables at Bookstores - Ok, this is sort of cheating, since it doesn't give you much of anything to go on. But I find it much easier to pick something from these tables than from the stacks where all you can see are rows and rows of spines. I regularly cruise through Borders on my way home to see what they've got on display. Then I'll jot it in my notebook for future reference.
  4. Favorite Authors - We all know the trick of finding an author we like and reading everything they've ever written. Well, some authors are very helpful and have blogs where they, in turn, share what they are reading. Shannon Hale's blog has been great, offering author interviews and top 10 lists from her nephew (which was a great tool if you're looking for something that a 10 yr old boy would read).
  5. - Friends are always a good place to turn, but I've started using to keep up with what my friends are reading. I read so much it's hard for me to keep it up to date, but I've definitely taken a look at what my pals are in love with. Let's be book friends!
So those are the tricks I use. What works for you? I've got a whole new year coming up ... and I need a media refill.


liloat said...

I get a lot of good suggestions from my sister's blog. =)

And I use amazon's "also bought".

Browsing the library has also produced some quality results.

abucketofrain said... is my favorite way to find new music - just type in an artist or song and the site creates a personalized "radio station" that matches that artist's/song's style. You can refine their recommendations by giving feedback on particular songs. It's great.

soundofstilhed said...
Check out this link for some pretty cool hits (bonus points if you speak French)!

soundofstilhed said...

hate that it cuts it off, but whatever!