Thursday, March 24, 2011
How Do You Pick Your Books? Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?
1) The cover art.
We've all heard the saying: Never judge a book by its cover. However, does this apply to you as a reader? For me it doesn't. I admit sometimes when I am in a bookstore or at the library, I will pick up a book because the artwork intrigues me. I have found many good books this way that led me in a completely new reading direction and inspired some of my own stories.
2) The title.
A good title will reel me in every time and make me read the book jacket. I don't really hunt for a particular genre most of the time when I'm looking for a new book. I just wander aimlessly down the rows until I find one that catches my eye.
3) Hardcover vs. paperback and the quality of the ink and paper.
As writers generally, we don't always have much say in the cover art or our print type or the paper a story is printed on, but all those things do matter to readers. For instance, I know I am more likely to buy hardcover for my own personal reading collection and gifts, but I like paperbacks for how light they are and easy to travel with. (Of course, with eBooks so popular, this is not an issue for people any more).
And I know I especially love heavy papers; the way they feel and smell is intoxicating and makes for a more pleasurable read. Thin, less-quality papers rip and smudge ink easily. If the book feels cheap in my hand, it's not going home with me from a bookstore, unless I really love the author/book and this is the only edition available. However, if it's a library copy, I will check it out because it's not going on my shelves.
4) Reviews from other authors on the back of the book.
Not only do I judge a book by the cover art, but I will also judge it by the blurbs from other authors on the back, if I am not familiar with an author's writing. I can gauge how much think I will enjoy reading the book in question, if I recognize a reviewing author's comment. Sometimes, I even take stock of these quotes, if I am not familiar with the author reviewing the book.
5) The first sentence rule.
This is one of my favorites. If I open a book and the first sentence doesn't immediately grab me, I am less likely to buy it or check it out. However, if I am feeling particularly kind that day, I will open the book to the middle to see if it holds my interest, if the first sentence didn't. If it's not any good, then it goes back on the shelf.
6) Recommendations from other people or the author/editor of the book I'm currently reading.
I recently joined Goodreads and am enjoying chatting with other bibliophiles online. I've already come up with a few books to add to my reading list. It's been an enjoyable experience and I highly recommend it.
I also find that close friend and family recommendations are pretty solid. They usually know what I like.
But I love it even more if I find that an author/editor has included a "further reading list" at the back of the book I just finished. In fact, I make a copy of those lists from books I have liked and returned to the library. I keep those lists around forever. More than once, they helped me out of a funk when I couldn't find anything I wanted to read.
7) Discovering new authors through anthologies.
This is a craze I've been on for the past three years. It's a great way to take a new author for a test run. If I find one I liked, I go online for a works published list. Many a good author has found a home on my bookshelves this way or been recommended to a friend.
So how do you decide which books to read? Do you use my techniques or have others I might like to try? I'd love to hear from you.
As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!