I joined a challenge to have more book discussions on my blog without really knowing what that meant. I was sort of picturing the reviews I’ve been doing and wondering how to turn that into more of a discussion, so I waited a bit to see what others were posting for the challenge.
That does not seem to be what they meant at all. Discussions about reading and books in general. I can do that.
So today’s topic…How do you choose which books to read? And where do you find them? Come talk to me about it in the comments.
I’m sorry to say I do quite often judge books by their cover. Titles, fonts, cover art, texture of the material…all of these have an impact on how excited I’ll be about the book…and a much bigger impact than they probably should have.
That’s not to say everything has to be shiny and new, or that I always look for books with the same style or elements. There are many combinations of the above that are attractive to me and likely to draw my attention. Old books with weathered pages and bent covers speak to my romanticized image of books as collected ancient knowledge and wisdom, and a beat-up copy just means it was well-read (and therefore, obviously, well worth the read). New books with soft matte covers and raised fonts grab on to my sensory/stim needs and don’t let go. Cover art of women being awesome and doing their thing will always make me want to at least check out a comic and see if it’s for me.
When searching online, those are much less important to the decision. I’m probably a much smarter shopper online, where I go in looking for a specific title or topic. In the case of the former, I’m usually looking because other people whose opinions I trust have been talking about it a lot. For the latter, I need (or want) to know more about something and in that case I look for the highest-reviewed items. In both cases I read the reviews before I decide to buy, maybe even head to Google to learn a bit more and see more detailed descriptions, and consider carefully whether I actually think the book will be interesting and/or useful to me based on those.
Very rarely do I follow up on a direct recommendation, especially from a friend. If I don’t like it I don’t want to have to answer “What did you think of it?” If I do like it I’m afraid I might have too much to say in the other direction and scare the other person away. But mostly I think I just don’t like being told what to do, and hearing someone talk about why they like something is much more likely to draw my interest than being told I have to read it first, spoilers be damned.
The good news is, these methods do tend to work for me. Even the covers thing. I’ve gotten fairly good at balancing my love of a cover with the descriptions on the back and a quick flip through the pages, since I can likely find similar covers on books I’ll like better. But I think there’s probably also some overlap there, like publishers are aiming for a particular demographic and know how to market to that demographic, so the books with similar covers are going to also have similar enough material that a lot of it is at least close to my areas of interest.
I can’t think of a time I’ve actually been disappointed in my choice of books, so that probably says something. There are just too many books! You need a way to narrow them down even if it goes directly against one of the first pieces of life advice you were ever given. 😉