This is in response to a question a friend asked me on facebook.
I do not research bestseller lists. I eschew bestseller lists.
Many of the books I read I read because of friends. I have one friend who frequently passes on books to me which she enjoyed but doesn't have room to keep. I Dreamed of Africa, by Kuki Gallmann was one such book. This friend loaned me The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks. Now I search out Sacks's works.
I have a couple friends who loan books to me, and make recommendations to me. Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, by Anthony Esolen was loaned to me.
One friend (the same, actually) introduced me to the whole idea of book blogs, and I now follow a few thanks to her. This is one of them: http://www.semicolonblog.com/ And this is another: http://inkslingerblog.wordpress.com/ And I write one, thanks to her. :-}
Some books I read because I have set myself a course of studies. Plato's Dialogs, for instance.
Some I read because I'm familiar with the author's other work. After America comes to mind. I first read Mark Steyn on National Review Online, then I read America Alone, then I put After America on hold at the library.
Some I read because I'm in the library and something about the book calls to me. Read My Hips, both for the title and the cover picture. I judge books by their covers. http://www.amazon.com/Read-My-Hips-Learned-Dieting/dp/0307464385/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325563931&sr=8-1
A New Road to Serfdom by Daniel Hannan came home from the library with me because I was familiar with Hannan from the clip of his speech which went viral on youtube a couple years back. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94lW6Y4tBXs
I can't visit a library without coming home laden with books I can't wait to read.
Some authors and titles come up again and again. Thus Wendell Berry is on my To Be Read list.
And for all my reading, my TBR list grows and grows and grows. In fact, reading a book seems to add other books to my list. I read Factory Girls because Manning Up mentioned it, and it sounded interesting.
How could I forget? I buy and read some books because of the Kindle Daily Deal. eye of the god by Ariel Allison was one.