How to get people to read the books you love, using science. Sexy, sexy science.

17 August 2012 by 53 Comments

Don’t actually do this to your books. It makes the pages all curly. Gah.

Did you ever love a book? I mean, LO-HU-HUVE a book. So, so much. Like, you read that book, and you kind of wanted to make out with it, when you were done. You wanted to find the author and give him or her a big old sloppy kiss for creating that world for you. You wished the characters were real so you could meet them for margaritas and nachos and talk about your LIVES and your HEARTBREAKS and your TROUBLES and laugh until your sides were sore. You finished that book, and you kind of didn’t want to start another book, because it felt like cheating, and it felt like breaking the spell. Maybe you hoover up all the other books the author wrote, if he or she wrote others. Ever have that happen? I bet you have. You’re all the bookish sort.

What did you do next, once you’d finished the book, or all the books by that author? Well, you might have done a million things, I don’t know your life, but one of the things I bet you did do is to try to get other people to read it (or them, if it’s an author you fell in love with.)

How’d you do it? Anything like this?

You: OMGGGG, Jenny! Do you know about Gillian Flynn? She’s only the best author EVER EVER EVER.
Jenny: No, I’ve never heard of her. What kind of books does she write?
You: Ugh, only the BEST BOOKS EVER, Jenny! They’re kind of thrillers, very intelligent, very dark and twisted.
Jenny: Oh, huh. I don’t know if that sounds like my thing.
Jenny: Um. Maybe I’ll give her a try sometime.
You: I’ll bring you ALL HER BOOKS next time I see you! And we can discuss ALL OF THEM! THIS WILL BE GREAT!

ZOMG BOOKS! (You’re scaring the children. Just stop.)

And you bring Jenny those books, and Jenny looks vaguely green around the gills but somehow you don’t notice that, and then the next time you see Jenny (why isn’t she returning your texts? huh, weird) you ask her how she’s enjoying the books, and she’s like, “oh, been busy, haven’t had much of a chance” and then you ask AGAIN a little while LATER and she STILL hasn’t read them and it crosses you mind that, oh, hey, OH, maybe she’s not going to read those. WHY WON’T SHE READ THEM? THEY ARE AWESOME.

Well, I don’t want to cast any aspersions, but you might have gone about this the wrong way.

But Amy! I can hear you asking. These books are amazing! How can I get my friends to read them? They would love them!

Sure. They might love them. You’re completely right. And don’t you fret! There’s a way to get them to read them. Of course there is.

It’s called Sneaky Fuckerism. And it’s about SCIENCE.

A little background: Sneaky Fuckerism is a scientific term that’s actually used, in science (no, seriously, who told you science isn’t awesome? They were WRONG) and it is this: less-attractive and slower members of the animal community would normally have trouble reproducing. But they still do. How? They sneaky-fucker their way in there. When the bigger, badder, faster, hotter animals are fighting amongst themselves to be the ones to mate with the ladies, the sneaky fucker animals slink on over and mate with the ladies. The fighty alpha-males are busy, so they don’t notice. Then whoever wins the fighty-fight mates with the female – who is most likely already pregnant by the sneaky fucker. Then the babies are raised and tended to by the mom and the dad, who thinks they’re his – but they’re not. And the sneaky fucker lives to sneaky fuck another day, his genetic material firmly in place. For further information on sneaky fuckerism, please to visit my blog, where we had a full Sneaky Fucker Week a while back, and it was AWESOME.

But AMY! How can sneaky fuckerism, a very important scientific theory to be sure, help me in my quest to assure people read awesome books?

Oh, sneaky fuckerism can help. Can it ever.

So let’s go back to our Jenny scenario above. You really want Jenny to read these books, right? You think Jenny will love them? You think Jenny’s life will be so much better and richer and fuller if she read them? Well, babe, you gotta finesse that shit. You gotta sneaky fuck your way right on in there.

First, you have to wait until it’s organic. Throwing in book recommendations all willy-nilly like an overeager beaver makes you look desperate. Do you really want that? No, no one wants to look like the first girl at the dance. That girl always looked all desperate and sad and needy.

…so alone.

Let’s pretend that it came up in conversation, just for argument’s sake.

Jenny: I was just reading King’s latest book. Did you read that one?
You: Oh, yeah, I really liked it. I know a lot of people didn’t, but I found it really thought-provoking.
Jenny: What are you reading now?
You: Just started a volume of poetry I’m really excited about, but I finished this book I loved yesterday. So amazing.
Jenny: Oh? What was it?
You:  Swamplandia, by Karen Russell. Did pretty well – one of the finalists for the Pulitzer last year.
Jenny: What’s it about?
You: A family that runs a down-on-its-luck tourist attraction in Florida. It’s surprisingly dark, though. Also very poetic, very beautifully written.
Jenny: Really?  Huh. Sounds interesting. I should check it out.
You: I know they have it at the library, but I’ve got a copy at home if you don’t want to wait for the reserve. Let me know!

What did you do RIGHT here?

  • You waited until it came up in conversation; you didn’t just plop it on her lap like a dead elephant.
  • You didn’t use SHOUTY ALL-CAPS to show how excited you were. You were a LADY. (Or a man, I don’t know your gender and I LOVE YOU ALL.)
  • You were SUAVE about it. You snuck it in all off-the-cuff like. “Oh, I almost forgot about the book I just finished, silly ol’ me.”
  • You put in the important bits: you loved it, it almost won a Pulitzer (side note: in this author’s humble opinion, it should have, ahem, silly, non-decision-making Pulitzer committee) and it’s well-written, dark, and poetic. You know she likes dark; she mentioned King. It’s always best to sneaky-fuck where there is precedent. If you don’t know she’s ever read a romance, don’t try to sneaky-fuck her a Maeve Binchy. (Also, don’t even do that anyway, ew, come on.)
  • You offered it, but you didn’t push. Pushing is never sexy. Pushing is what the alpha males do. And what do the alpha males also do? Raise the babies of the sneaky fuckers. Do you want to unknowingly raise a sneaky-fucker-baby? Well, do you?
  • Additionally: I JUST SNEAKY-FUCKED ALL OF YOU. Because now you all want to read Swamplandia, don’t you? KAPOW! You been sneaky-fucked! I KNOW! I’m very good at this.

You want it. You know you do! IT’S SCIENCE!

Will Jenny read it? Not sure. You’ve done your part. You can’t MAKE someone read something. But the odds are a LOT more in your favor  than they were  when you were all JENNY JENNY JENNY READ THIS READ THIS JENNYYYYYYYYY! Plus, Jenny will still be your friend when you leave the interaction. That’s a win, right? Well, assuming Jenny’s not a jerk. I don’t know Jenny. I’m going to assume she’s not a jerk. Why would you be hanging out with a jerk?

In summation: sneaky fuckerism. A sexy scientific theory you can use in all aspects of your life. Nothing sexier than science, ladies and gentleman. Nothing at all. Go forth and sneaky-fucker the world into making better literary choices. You’re welcome.

53 thoughts on “How to get people to read the books you love, using science. Sexy, sexy science.

  1. I love this!

    I’m totally the worst about shouting at people to read things I love. If I were the type to go out and randomly accost strangers, I’d do that too.

    I suppose I should adopt the sneaky fucker mannerisms, but I did just pretty much bully Kate into starting the Dark Tower and she just finished the Gunslinger because I am THE MOST persistent.

    Sometimes shouty works. Only sometimes, though.

    • Only when you do it, really. You’re the only person I’ve ever met who can do the shouty thing and actually not make my oppositional defiance tendencies kick in, heh heh.

      • Hee! It’s because I’m pretty shouty in real life, but it’s a lovable shouty.

        Um…kind of like Monica Geller.

        As you can see below, I also convinced Heather to read Ready Player One and now it’s one of her favourites!

    • I think shouty works for you because you’re awesome, and we know that if you’re recommending something, it must be kickass. (Speaking of which, I just got Blackbirds from the library yesterday. YAY!)

      I think you have to know your audience when you’re being shouty. Never be shouty with people you don’t know well. It probably won’t lead to a long relationship.

  2. I never knew sneaky fuckerism had a scientific name, and now I love it!

    But, um … don’t think I didn’t notice how you sneaky-fucked us all with Swamplandia. How meta sneaky of you. And yes, now I’ll go read it.

    P.S. Really enjoyable post. Thanks for the laughs.

    P.P.S. First time I tried to type it, it came out “sneaker fucky” … do what you will with that information.

    • Isn’t it great? My sciency friend Andreas pointed it out to me. He knows about all the best science theories.

      I think you’ll love Swamplandia – sneaky fuckery aside, it really is fantastic.

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked the post!

  3. I nearly bought Swamplandia a while back when I was looking for an airplane read, but I picked up something else instead. Now you’ve made me regret it with Sneaky Fuckerism. (I don’t even remember what I read instead. It must have sucked.)

    On a different note, if I were a naturalist, I would go to bars and clubs to study how Sneaky Fuckerism works in the wild. I’m sure I would look out of place with my safari hat and camera crew, but I feel that this research is important.

  4. I think this is why I’m a librarian – people ASK me for recommendations every day, so plenty of opportunity to push the books I love onto people. No need to be sneaky! (And this Jenny person is crazy for not totally jumping on Gone Girl!!)

    • I just finished Gone, Girl. It was FANTASTIC!

      I do love being asked for recommendations! I take it very seriously. It’s one of my favorites, trying to find something that’s perfect for them.

      • Did you just sneaky fuckerize me with Gone, Girl? I just added it to my list and now it seems to be the next thing I want to read.

        Oh, and of course I was sneaky fucked with Swamplandia.

        BTW did I use the term’s other forms of the phrase correctly?

        • You did GREAT. What’s fun about sneaky fucker is that you can do whatever you want with it and it’s still valid. Sneaky fuckering, sneaky fuckery…whatever works!

          Both Gone Girl and Swamplandia are fantastic! I hope you love them!

  5. I really must try this. Instead, whenever I hear even the slightest mention of somebody reading something, I become a dirty slob. “You like reading. Books? I like books” and then I drag them into my reading room and make them stand there while I go through the shelves. “You’d really like this one, and this one” until their arms are sinking from the weight. Too bad this also means that a lot of books don’t find their ways home either.

  6. I rarely convince people to read the books I love. I’m not a good sales person. I am too passionate about my faves to be all casual-like. Maybe I can buy all the copies of Ready Player One in town and sit on them like a mountain troll, double dog daring anybody to touch one. Then maybe they’ll think they *need* to read it.

  7. I will never be good at Sneaky Fuckerism when it comes to recommending books. I am THE BEST sneaky fucker when it comes to getting things I want. Hahaha!

    I use the shouty technique with my mom and it works every time. The rest of my book-loving friends are bloggers, so they just read what they want anyway. Hahaha!

    Great post.

    • Well, you and Jenn DID get me to bump up The Absolutist on my list. I’ve kind of being avoiding reviewing it though … I don’t want you guys to be mad at me :| lol

      • I would never be mad at someone for not enjoying a book as much as I did. I’m pretty cool about that the majority of the time. We can’t all enjoy the same books all of the time.

        But I’m pretty sure when you mentioned it was on your list, I was all, “OMG, YOU HAVE TO READ THAT RIGHT NOW! I LOVED IT!” So, yeah.

    • It’s tough with book bloggers – we have such a pile of books to work through! And they all have rules, like, this one was free from the publisher, I really need to get this read and reviewed…argh!

      I’m better at sneaky fucking people that don’t know me well. The people that know me know what I’m doing and they’re like, “Um, yeah, Amy? You can’t play me, dude.” And then I sigh and say “FINE.”

      • Well, if it makes you feel better, I read a lot of mixed reviews about Swamplandia… but because you enjoyed it so much, I’m going to read it. I don’t think you’ve steered me wrong, yet. :D

  8. You know, I just heard about Swamplandia recently, and it sounded really cool! It really is too bad the Pulitzer Board didn’t choose anything this year. Most uncool of them.

    And yes, that was some smooth sneaky-fuckering there. Well played, Amy, well played ;)

    I’ll bring you ALL HER BOOKS next time I see you! And we can discuss ALL OF THEM! THIS WILL BE GREAT!
    That made me giggle :) It reminds me of John Scalzi’s summary of the geek’s response upon discovering another member of his/her fandom: “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.” (of course, that only works if Jenny already loves the thing that you love, so you wouldn’t even have to sneaky-fucker it in)

    It’s pretty much how I am if I discover someone else who loves BBC’s recent adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories (created by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and still airing as re-runs on PBS Masterpiece Mystery, and also on DVD and BluRay and Netflix) … there may even be half-restrained wavy arms and swoony-faces involved.

    (see what I did there? my subtlety is amazing ;)

    • BBC’s Sherlock is one of my favorite things in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. I’m chomping at the bit for Season Three. It’s the best thing in all the land.

      Swamplandia is really wonderful. I can’t say enough good things. It really should have won the Pulitzer last year. It makes me sad they couldn’t agree on a winner, if just to get that winner more sales, you know?

      • *Initiate barely restrained wavy arms and swoony face* ZOMG REALLY?

        Sigh. Every so often I re-watch The Reichenbach Fall, and for the next few days my brain is like this.

        On the flip side, hopefully all three Pulitzer nominees will get extra attention now because of the whole no-prize-for-anyone mess.

        • REALLY, really. The Reichenbach Fall is one of the best episodes of television ever produced. Absolute brilliance. I watched it, I rewatched it, I’ve read a million theories, I’ve discussed it with everyone that will listen…dying for Season Three. Just DYING.

          • I know, right?? A TV show has not made me cry since that episode of Full House where the great-grandfather died. I was nine at the time. It’s been almost 20 years since a TV show made me cry. Dang it, Martin Freeman, your soliloquy at the end…it even made Sherlock cry, I think! For me, it’s more the Reunion I’m looking forward to than the How Did Sherlock Do It (though I’m definitely curious about that!)

            It’s actually completely Martin Freeman’s fault that I’m finally getting my proverbial butt in gear and reading The Hobbit. I started it years ago, but I guess I just wasn’t in the right mood for it, but now there’s the movie coming (even though I’m highly skeptical about the whole 3-part division and the inevitable plot padding that will mean) and every time I watch the trailers I’m thinking, it’s John Watson! It’s John Watson! And we’ll get to hear Sherlock’s voice at some point! And I will feel like a very bad literature nerd if I don’t read the book first.

            And I can’t believe what I was missing all these years! Tolkien is awesome!

            • Oh, Watson is going to be FURIOUS at Holmes! He’ll forgive him, he loves him, but WHOA. Words are going to be shared!

              I just finished all of the Tolkien thanks to the readalong over at sj’s blog, so I’m with you on coming in late to the Tolkien thing, but now I can see The Hobbit, too!

    • That’s how I am whenever I discover that someone else loves Eddie Izzard or Firefly – I immediately know that that person and I WILL BE BEST FRIENDS FOREVER AND EVER.

      • I need to watch the rest of Firefly (I’ve seen ep 1 so far) if only to see River Tam kick everyone’s butt. Because I hear she does that, and that it is epic.

      • I like Eddie Izzard – the personality in that man just makes me so happy – and I love, love, LOVE Firefly. I’m a whore for anything Joss Whedon. His writing and characters make me swoony.

        • I love that one quote of his, when someone asked him, “Why do you write strong female characters?”

          “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

          You rock, Joss. A lot.

          • I honestly bawled when I watched that interview that the first time. I’m a sap, true, but seriously? The matter-of-fact way he said it, like he didn’t even have to think about it? Killed me. I love him so much.

  9. I just loved this. I am going to immediately begin to perfect the art of sneaky fuckery. Suze, you’ve already got this down, what with all the glitter dust floating around in BBD!

  10. Ahhh, brilliant. BRILLIANT I say! This sneaky method is probably a lot more effective than what I do. I tie people to a chair and force them to read. It rarely works.

    PS Swamplandia is a fantastic book. You would have sneaky fuckered me if I hadn’t already read it ;)

    • Hee! Oh, well. Can’t sneaky-fuck those that have already been had, I suppose. Isn’t Swamplandia fabulous? *swoon*

  11. This is one of those times I’m glad the internet stretches far and wide so that when I go place a hold on Swamplandia at my library, you guys won’t have all beat me to it! I have been sneaky fucked. You sneaky fucker.

    I’m good at sneaky fuckery when it comes to TV shows, but I don’t think I’ll ever learn this skill about books because I am too passionate. With my friends, they know me well enough to know my recommendations come with a shiny seal of approval so I can put my bossy pants on. I recently texted my friend “READ THIS” with a link to Gone Girl. Which, by the way, I am still wound up about because oh em gee.

    • It’s been out for about a year, so the wait shouldn’t be too long, I don’t think!

      No one EVER listens to me about TV shows! Well, my online people do, but not in real life! I don’t have enough nerdy friends, I don’t think.

      Gone Girl was something, right? I read it in 24 hours. I couldn’t put it down. I was HOOKED.

  12. LOL, this is wonderful. I don’t think I’m good at the sneaky fuckery. Except maybe with boyfriend. I convinced him to start reading The Stand with me even though I’m at least 300 pages ahead of him (or more). I think he was curious because of how nervous people having coughing or sneezing fits has been making me. Although I think I’ve had that happen to me recently, a friend of mine was like, oh hey you are reading The Stand, I think you’d like this guy too, and links me Ted Dekker novels. *sigh* And now I want to read Swamplandia. Thanks Amy. :D

    • I’m glad you liked it! And I think you’ll like Swamplandia. It’s wonderful. And ooh! The Stand! One of my all-time favorites!

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