Jamie Lawrence’s principles for judging books

He writes me an email:

We somehow ended up talking about things we absolutely judge by first impression. We both read a lot and widely in general, and it was a fun topic.

An easy one for me to note was that I skip technical/professional/academic work that is far enough outside of my expertise that I know the baseline knowledge assumptions are beyond me.  Imperfect, but in general, a good filter.

I skip nearly all books by politicians, executives, and similar people. Even when people tell me that one is good, it usually isn't.

I really dislike reading music reviews. They almost never seem insightful, and rarely tell me anything I didn't realize I wanted to know.

Sort of the opposite of the above filters, I tend to really enjoy reading applied trade books for things far outside my expertise.  An example is that about six months ago, I read a treatise on elevator traffic management that was fascinating.

What other principles can you think of?  I go to Mary Riley Styles Falls Church Public Library and check the non-fiction Return carts, to see what other people have been reading.


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