I have determined that sharing books makes them more enjoyable for all parties involved. This means that being a librarian is a fantastic job! I've also found that passing off a book to a friend, or receiving one, makes reading a shared experience, instead of a private one. I used to always have my pile of books that I would blaze through and not really talk about with anyone. Books were a private affair, something personal and intimate that had nothing to do with anyone else. Of course, books present themselves differently to each reader depending on that person's history, but there are certainly things that may be common to multiple readers, and this is what is enjoyable when sharing.
And in the vein of sharing, don't forget about Bookcrossing, where you can tag and release a book into the wild. I found my first Bookcrossing book in Glastonbury Tor, lying on a bench in the corner. It was Caught in the Light, and it was a very odd read, but something new and different that I might not have picked out for myself. Having another person's insight (un-informed in this case) into what I might like broadens the spectrum of book possibilities.
Recently, I've shared the following books in some way:
MFK Fisher's Gastronomical Me, originally lent to me by Tristan (who might in some circumstances be called my boss) when he found that I was helplessly interested in the culture and cooking of food. The book came to me at a critical turning point in my life in the Fall of 2008, and gave me great hope for the future, not to mention inspiration for a way of living fully. I received my own copy as a birthday gift this year, and immediately passed it on to Dan, who is plodding through it and enjoying it thoroughly.
Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, came to me from D, although we found the copy together in the Arlington Public Library's bookshop. There's a theme emerging here about food writing, which goes on to include Deep Economy (to some extent. Also lent to me by T) and Secret Ingredients, which I picked up in a moment of impulsiveness at Brattleboro Books (website has issues).
I just passed off The World Without Us to T last night, my copy of Ex Libris is with D, and I'm moseying around in D's copy of High Tide in Tuscon. I ritually post links in my twitter to interesting reviews, poke people when I think they might like something, and talk to shopkeepers and librarians for recommendations. The nice guy in Mystery on Main (David?) and I spent a while perusing shelves for books about books (a new favourite category, along with food/cookbooks). We came up with The Last Detective and The Oxford Murders, which I need to go back and get. At the time I bought Booked to Die and The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. All of this was inspired by The Club Dumas (made into the movie The 9th Gate), which was lent to me by Don, mid 2008. At some point I'll collect more of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's books.
Of course, before any of my books leave home, I brand them with my embossing stamp, just to be sure then come back.
Questions for readers: Too many links? Would you prefer links to Amazon for books? I think Library thing is more useful for seeing recommendations, tags and similar works with.