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Sallyo's avatar

How do you pick the next book to read? For example, do you go by buzz, reviews, recommendation, author, title, cover...?

Asked by Sallyo (21 points ) February 21st, 2010

If you read a lot, how do you pick the next book to read? How do you decide whether or not to read/buy a book? Do you pick by recommendation from friends, celebrities, websites, reviews? Do you choose by blurb, author, cover? Or do you just grab any book that seems convenient?

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26 Answers

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

I work at an independent book store in the summer, so I go by what my coworkers recommend. I also (as part of my job) have to read up on new books, so that helps me get an idea of whether or not I want to read a particular book.

When I’m randomly browsing, I read the first sentence or three of the book. If it doesn’t grab me, I don’t get it.

john65pennington's avatar

I rarely read a complete book. to be honest, i cannot sit still long enough to read anything. thats just me. but, when i do find myself in a book reading mode, i choose a book by its bright colors first and the book content next. the books i read are mainly Books of World Record. these books hold my interest and i am amazed at some of the world records that some people will attempt, just to be named in this book.

frigate1985's avatar

I usually go to the nearest bookstore and walk around the aisles looking for the book that cathches my eyes. Also, if i am reading a series, I search for that author (ex) Dan Brown, Paullo Coelho, Christopher Paolini, etc etc)

TexasDude's avatar

If the cover looks cool, I’ll buy it.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@frigate1985 Lurve for liking Coelho and Paolini. <3

faye's avatar

By word of mouth, and by what is available at the used bookstore.

Mamradpivo's avatar

I have a list going (mostly in my head) of books I’ve heard about that I like to wander through a bookstore and buy from time to time.

LunaChick's avatar

It either depends on my mood or what I find at a yard sale, for a quarter.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I listen to what my friends are reading, paying close attention to the subject matter. I have very high standards of reading material and avoid pulp fiction at all costs. I look for books in genre that I enjoy and by authors that I like.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I tend to read works by authors whose works I have already enjoyed.
My wife is an avid reader and sometimes suggests books for me as well.
I try and get the audio book version (unabridged) as the reading position is rough on my neck and back (I am disabled due to chronic pain from a car crash 6 years ago.)

lilikoi's avatar

I get ideas for books I might like to read by word of mouth, because I’ve read other books by the same author, from sites like Amazon and Shelfari, from NPR, by searching for literature on a specific topic, and randomly or tangentially.

I highly value time, so I never read a book just because someone else says I should. For these recs, I always do a little research to determine if it is likely I will like the book before I commit to it. I always finish books that I start, sometimes purely out of the need to finish, even though it can take years (if I’m not that into it).

That’s not to say I never make a spontaneous purchase. I like browsing used bookstores to see if anything catches my eye. It is like a treasure hunt. I’ve found a lot of good books this way. I will sometimes read the beginning or end of the book before buying, or read the jacket.

JONESGH's avatar

I read books recommended by friends, or books by authors I like.
I’ve also found that in the backs of many books I like they give recommendations for other books, I usually like those as well.

skfinkel's avatar

Booker award books are a big source, as well as books recommended by certain friends—not all.

ETpro's avatar

I keep a little pocket spiral notebook with me. I get a lot of great book suggestions right here, and I write the title and author in the back pages of my notebook, then check them off as I get to them. I keep my to-do list and notes to self in the front of the book

borderline_blonde's avatar

Many different ways: something catches my eye at the library, I get a good recommendation, someone loans or gives me a book to read, I go straight for my new favorite author to read the next book in the series, or sometimes I just decide out of the blue that I really want to re-read an old favorite. It really depends.

Jeruba's avatar

I have a huge stack of books to read. Many stacks; shelves, cases, boxes. Probably many more than I can read in my remaining lifetime.

Books leap up and attach themselves to me by magnetic force. My interests are wide and varied in fiction and nonfiction. I rarely take an interest in recommendations because I usually do better on my own. A stroll into Barnes & Noble for a specific purchase turns into five impulses. I can walk into an independent store like Moe’s in Berkeley and want one of everything. A search at Amazon.com leads to a maze of digressions. Click, click, click.

As for what I read next, it’s usually something that complements or counterbalances whatever I’ve just finished: after a heavy, deep, massive novel, a lightweight detective story; after a diverting history of jigsaw puzzles, a book of Zen teachings; after an analysis of a social phenomenon such as superstition or cults, a book of therapeutic case studies.

I’m about to finish Elizabeth Kostova’s fascinating novel The Historian, well recommended to me by flutherite @sdeutsch (I’ll listen to her suggestions again) and, simultaneously, The Plague, by Albert Camus (for a third reread). On deck are The Big Dig, by Linda Barnes; How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer; Mortal Love, by Elizabeth Hand; and Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

^ Virtually everything that @Jeruba said, other than the fact that I tend to go on streaks more often. Instead of switching from one genre to the next with every new book, I tend to binge on 5 or 6 of the same genre before switching to a different one.

MissAusten's avatar

I rarely go into the library or bookstore with a specific title in mind. I like to browse around and look at a lot of books before I choose some. If I see something by an author I like, or with a description that sounds interesting, I’ll choose that. Sometimes I’ll get something my sister-in-law suggests, because we have similar reading tastes. Our library has a “Bestsellers” shelf, and I always start there. At the bookstore, the employees read and review a lot of the books. The reviews are on little index cards in front of the books, and I find it helpful to check those out.

If I haven’t had time to get to the library, I pick a book off the shelves at home that I’ve read before. There are some books I never get tired of reading, and they tide me over until I can run out for some new material.

iphigeneia's avatar

Fortunately I have lots of friends who enjoy reading the same sort of books as I do, so even when I have a pile of books to read I find book suggestions everywhere. I also have had a lot of luck browsing casually through a book store and finding interesting titles.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I tend to go through phases. For example, I have recently read quite a lot of books about drug addiction. If something interests me I head straight to Amazon to find a book (fiction or no-fiction) based on that topic and once you buy something on Amazon it gives you recommendations on similar things you may be interested in. That’s pretty much how I find out about all the books I end up reading.

ratboy's avatar

I chose my last book because Andrew mentioned it (Haruki Murakami). I find Amazon’s recommendations helpful. Mostly, I rely on reviews in journals, books, and publisher’s catalogues.

gemiwing's avatar

I lean heavily on blogs since as of late any recommendations from sales staff have been hit or miss. I think that since everyone is working so hard there’s not as much time for them to relax in their downtime and read as much as in years past. (Especially now that people are having to work two jobs just to keep afloat).

I cycle through about five group book-review blogs. They tend to be genre-specific so their input (with easily available track record) tend to weigh heavily with me.

ETpro's avatar

@Jeruba You remind me of my son. In high school he went to two magnet schools for the gifted and talented, and always had a load of textbooks in his backpack. But he also had three or foru books he was reading at any given time. The poor kid went to school with a pack the size of a soldier’s 80 pound rucksack. In the yearbook, the caption the staff chose for his picture was, “So many books, so little time.”

Dr_Dredd's avatar

I have certain things that I like to read about (e.g. genetic engineering, immortality, zombies, etc.). I also love to browse used bookstores. If I see an interesting title, I’ll pick up the book and read the back. If it has any one of the topics I like, I’ll then start to leaf through it. After that, I make the read/no read decision.

sdeutsch's avatar

I tend to pick books that are very far from the genre of the last book I read – partly for variety, and partly because if the last book was really good, I know the likelihood of being disappointed by a not-quite-as-good book of the same genre is pretty high. If I read something totally different in between, then I’ll be happier with the not-quite-as-good book when I get to it later.

As for the books I choose, I usually find them either by wandering around a bookstore or through recommendations from a select few friends (the ones who I know like the really good stuff!) I have a wishlist on Amazon where I keep track of anything I’ve come across that I’d like to read, as well as things that friends have recommended – plus I’ve got a shelf full of unread books at home – so I’ve always got plenty to choose from!

@Jeruba Glad you liked The Historian – that was actually recommended to me by @EmpressPixie, who has never steered me wrong!

tearsxsolitude's avatar

I go to librarything.com and search for a book I really liked, then I scroll down and look at books that were recomended as being similar or having commonalities. It’s an awesome to find more books.

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