Maybe it's a function of being an English teacher, but the subject of "what are you reading?" comes up quite often. For a long time this conversation took place in face to face conversations. And that usually leads to further conversation about interests, which can lead to a way to get to know someone. But this has changed with the virtual bookshelf.
As a way to begin, here are some newer books I've read recently that I'd recommend: Outliers, A Whole New Mind, Birth Day (by my brother Mark), Wikinomics, The Road.
I can't always remember the books I've read though. For instance for this list, a couple of books came to mind, but then I thought, "what have I been reading?" and couldn't readily remember. Then as I went through the process of linking to the first one on the list, I went to one of my virtual bookshelves (in this case my Google Books library). But then I remembered my Shelfari library, and when I went there, I realized that there were a lot of good books that I'd forgotten about: Mountains Beyond Mountains, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Wicked, Nickel and Dimed, etc.
When I started these virtual bookshelves, I thought of them primarily as book marks, as a way to remind me of things I'd read since my memory's not so good. But even as I set them up, collaborations began. And now I see the many ways that the conversation around reading books has expanded. The teachers I collaborate with on Youth Voices and EdTechTalk have their own bookshelves, Shelfari lets me see all members who have similar books on their bookshelves, Amazon has the "Frequently bought together" and the "Customer who bought this item also bought" features, Google Books has the "All related books" feature, etc.
We're answering the question "what are you reading" in different ways now – depending on who's asking and whether we've actually ever even met.