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How do you choose your books?


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Not sure about you but i have found some mainstream authors out there are running out of steam...I have started to turn to searching the Internet for different perspectives which invariably throws up authors you have never heard of, however just recently some of these have proved to be really good. Just shows there is probably a wealth of talent out there waiting to be discovered. Generally Amazon.co.uk are good for me as they offer a look inside feature which means you can get a sneak at the book and i also look at book review sites as this can always end up linking you with other things anyway (The power of the net eh!!) Book covers are important to me to some degree but i have been caught out by this in the past,usually in high street book shops only to find that this was probably a sales thing (once you have bought it they have their money!!) and the book actually ends up being rubbish. Like MisterHobgoblin i think reviews generally do the trick because you know others have read it before you and are usually commenting honestly..

 

 

 

Like David, I return to tried and trusted authors. Apart from that, I am a sucker for a good cover - if a cover catches my eye in a shop, I might have a very quick look at the top of the blurb but I try to avoid reading too much in case it is a spoiler. Similarly, like Jen, I read the tops of some reviews in the Times on a Saturday, but I only read the bottom if I have read the book - and I always read the blurb once I have finished a book. Apart from that, I pick from prize shortlists and very occasionally I go for recommendations from people I know. I'm afraid I don't read threads on BGO for books I haven't read for fear of spoilers - I think a good review needs spoilers, but then I think a review is more useful to stimulate thought and discussion after reading a novel rather then to inspire people read the novel.

;)

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How do I choose my books? That's a tough question and the short answer - probably the most accurate - is I don't really know.

 

I read what I fancy at the time. Like Cobboldblue, I read the reviews on Amazon and I like the look inside feature - very useful indeed - but if that's not available I go into a book shop and have a look at the book then buy it on Amazon. I like to have a brief synopsis of what the book is about on the back but am not interested in quotes from other people telling me how good the book is, I like to make up my own mind. I do read newspaper reviews with interest but it's not enough to persuade me, one way or another.

 

I always like to listen to family members recommendations and one of my favourite passtimes is to have my father buy me a book that he thinks that I'll like. He's given up on that now, mainly because I have far too many books but I live in hope.

 

I don't always buy the next book an author that I've enjoyed brings out but I do like to have the complete series - like the Barset Chronicles - and I very much enjoy The Book People's ten books for £10 offers. I was introduced to Ian Rankin's Rebus series through that.

 

I'm not very good at the latest best seller lists, although I always look, and I'm not overly concerned about potential or actual prize-winners. I don't stick to the one genre and I have in the past actually read a book whose cover and title I intially rejected (This Thing of Darkness). The author isn't really important to me, either. I'm always reading authors I've never heard of. If I fancy the book, I read the first page(s) and I then know if I'm going to like the book or not and base my choice on that.

 

My method of choosing varies from book to book so it's very difficult to narrow it down to the one method.

 

Luna

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BGO is already proving a good for recommendations! Although it is a bit of a Catch 22 - I'll see the name of some book referred to, but I can't let myself look at the thread until I've finished, although the temptation is immense!

 

I'd say the way I get most book recommendations is Radio 4. Serialisations, stories about author's lives, programmes where certain books are referenced, they all pique my interest - Chinua Achebe and Ray Chandler are on my TBR pile because of recent documentaries, Daniel Deronda because of a serialisation.

 

Also, books that are referenced in films or TV programmes, for instance Frank O'Hara and Amy Bloom.

 

Books friends recommend... hmm, not often. Select friends only. I steer well clear of glowing reports prefaced with the words, "I'm not usually a big reader, but..." That's how you end up reading the Da Vinci Code.

 

I find I read books I would never usually read because of my book group, which can lead me off on other directions - two I've loved have been Wharton's House of Mirth, and Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. To some extent, Changing Planes by Ursula le Guin - I didn't particularly love it, but it's stayed with me, and sci-fi is something I steer well clear of usually.

 

I almost never buy first hand books - once in a blue moon. I totally resent paying £7 for something I can get for £1. It's not as if the words wear away with age. Plus old books smell better. I go round Borders, and take notes of the books I want, then go to find-book, abebooks or amazon and get whatever's cheapest. Tight ass Scot? Moi?! :D I find covers just as easily dissuade me than persuade me. Any sign of dragons or mythical beings and I'm ootay therr.

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  • 1 month later...

Well I am studying literature with the open univesity and I find that introduces me to loads of authors. It also mentions other books of each era and any that are intertextual with what we are studying. I have just finished 19c Novels and have a huge to read list....and discovered that I adore sensation novels so I will have a few of them to get through. And I need to read all of Hardy's works and Dickens's (I used to hate his stuff but have been converted)....etc lol.

 

Also reccomendations from intelligent people. I really don't get on well with chick lit and horror, which seem to be the order of the day for most. Don't get me wrong I do enjoy some popular fiction on ocassion but I usually need something a little more stimulating. So I like to browse reviews here or get reccomendations from other literature students.

 

I also like to browse amazon reviews and their reccomendations.

 

I also aim to read books that are canonical so that I don't feel I am missing out. I really don't feel that I have read enough.

 

And any that just take my fancy...for cover picture or intriguing back page. The odd biography of people I admire.

 

Sometimes people force-um I mean kindly donate books to me and I feel obliged to read them sometimes that is good and other times a waste of time lol.

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  • 1 month later...

I have a number of ways that I select books.

 

1) Read the first page (a friend once told me if they weren't interested to know what was on the next page the wouldn't get it out) -I use lovereading.co.uk for this as you can download extracts (usually first few pages)

 

2) I do like for like searches on lovereading

 

3) I like the premise on the back

 

4) Recommendations from friends. Taken further I sometimes ask the book seller to recommend something they like - I've had both good and bad experiences from book sellers but my friends are 90% spot on.

 

5) Book Club reads - Imperial life in the Emerald City was by far the most surprising read.

 

6) Title (this is how I picked up the Eyre Affair and Powder)

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For me, if I find a book I like (by an author previously unknown to me), I go back and find other books by the same person. From there I also spend a decent amount of time on Amazon or Infloox trying to find out other authors they might have collaborated with, recommendations by fans of the same writer and so on. I rarely take recommendations from my friends, since we all have such different tastes. I also do the "first page" test - if the synopsis on the back sounds good to me, I check the first page, and most of the time it's a fairly good indicator of what the writing style is like. Bane of my existence is when you find a synopsis that hooks you right off the bat, only to have the writing drag on and on for ages.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I tend to generally look for authors Im familiar with.....I also read the synopsis which often intrigues me....on occasions Ive been wrong and a book has been totally awful :(

I on occasion go by others recommendations and in my what 24 hours here Ive written down about 6 books I wanna read already lol

 

Twinkle x

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  • 5 years later...

I have a running list of books I've wanted to read mostly compiled by recommendations from people I know.  Mostly they are classics although some are not.  I'd stick to that list but have a hard time getting through the books because they are all challenging to read.  I also read stuff that ended up in my house if the description on the back of the book grabs me.  That's how I got to reading the Gulag Archipelago. I have an aunt that worked for a publisher so she would send books all the time although no one seems to recall how the Archipelago book came to be in the house.

 

Lately as part of a book swapping club I'm in I will pick up books that are on the wishlist at a used book store.  I have ended up reading some great books that I would have never known about that way like Born to Run.  

 

I also browse the book club and if some title or description looks enticing.  I'll look at reviews at Amazon and if they are all bad and similar I'll skip it but if its mixed or good I'll swap for it.  I just picked up a memoir about a college close to the one I attended and a coming of age story that looks neat which is interesting but I'm not a big fan of coming of age stories for instance I loathed To Kill a Mockingbird.

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  • 1 year later...

For me, I usually pick my books based off the cover and title of the book itself, I rarely read blurbs and will gladly read the work of an author I've never heard of before. I guess my method is purely based on aesthetics but I have discovered some of my favourite books due to unique covers and titles (Oryx and Crake!)

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 months later...

since I read only in audio, the person narrating it has a huge amount to do with my buying or not buying the book. Generally I dislike listening to American accents if the books do not contain American characters though, and even then I think twice if i really want to read it. I just prefer to listen to a British accent, because I feel I can relax into the story more...it's just a personal preference thing.

 

There are some narrators where I just don't even have to think if I want the book, because they could read me the phone book and I'd lap it up. Sean Barrett, Peter Kenny, Roy Dotrice, Simon Vance, Zara Ramm.

 

other than this, it really depends. I love fantasy, science fiction and so on, but I'm quite happy to read something else if the story is good or well written.

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I'm not a 'serious' reader, that is I read mostly thrillers, mysteries, detective stories, not looking for books now trying to find out the meaning of life etc., went through that phase in my younger years, mostly read now for escapism and entertainment although I do like when we have a BGO read and I read whatever is set. We've had some great choices in the few years I've belonged to the forum and I've enjoyed most of them. Probably the only one which I thought was bordering on ridiculous was Orlando by Virginia Woolf although I was probably in the minority there.  A list of the BGO reads is shown in one of the sections - there may be some there that you have already read.

Edited by momac
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I have to admit that my taste in reading material often changes depending on what mood I am in at the time. A year or two ago I went through a stage of reading a lot of 19th century literature and I read a lot of authors such as George Elliot, Anthony Trollpe and Thomas Hardy. For me it was a bit like going back to my teenage and I loved it.

 

I then went through a stage of reading a number of Amercan authors such as Wallace Stegner, Margaret Atwood and John Steinburg. Again I thouroughly enjoyed it.

 

In the past I have had runs on detective series reading authors such as Elizabeth George and Susan Hill. I also read a couple of American crime series. I thoroughly enjoyed them, especially the books at the beginning of each series and the ongoing personal stories included but found with all of them that they tended to run out of steam as the series progressed. Whether that was the authors running out of steam or me losing interest I have no idea!

 

At the moment I have been reading some of the forgotten authors of the last century including The Larkin series by H.E. Bates and The Vet series by James Herriot. I have enjoyed the way that although each book has had a plan and an overall story a lot of the writing of both authors is made up almost of a collection anecdotes. This is especially the case of James Herriot. As these books tell his own memories of a Yorkshire vet I suspose that this is unsurprising!

 

Although I do not always join in the group reads on BGO, although I have joined in on some and enjoyed the discussions which have gone along with the reads, I often read the comments of others on books I have not read and have bought books because of it. Other BGO readers have also given advice on where to start if I am exploring the possibility of a new author.

 

All in all I would have to say that my reasons for choosing a book change according to place, time and mood. Often covers have just jumped out at me at our local charity shop and upon reading the blurb on the back I have decided to give it a go or friends or family have just lent me books. The only real plan to my reading if there is one is that if I find an author I like I will start to follow them. I wonder where I will landd up next?!

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An update to my 2009 post on this thread (I had just joined then). As Momac and Cherrypie state, BGO is a big influence especially Binker and Dan. I was involved in a challenge last year and discovered that writing a list is a good plan for me although I'm already reading 'off list' and just bought another that's off list.

 

Other than that it's whatever I fancy at the time, although having been intoduced to stream of consciousness by reading Orlando, Virginia Woolf (group read recommended by Meg) and another group read of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury recommended by Binker, I make sure that I read at least one s-o-c every year.

 

I have also stolen Grammath's idea of not reading more than one by the same author every year, although I did read 2 of Ian Rankin's last year.

 

Late last year I decided to read things that may upset me instead of avoiding them, such as The Boston Globe's investigation of child sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. The new one is on the Holocaust. I want as wide a reading experience as possible.

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I find it difficult to read things that I know will upset me too Luna. I read The Nartow Road to the Far North a year or so ago which was about prisioners working on The Burma Railway. I knew that it was going to upset me. I have both The Railway Man and The Reader on my book shelf upstairs but so far have not been able to face reading them. I know that I will do so, if for no other reason that I feel that we all should read such literature to remind ourselves just what we are capable of doing to one another. I just have to choose my times.

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haha it is actually what I sometimes used to do when I was younger. I remember when I was on holiday, I found a book at the hotel shop. As hotel shop items are crazily overpeiced as it is, I still wanted to buy the book as it had a cool looking spartan soldier on the front!...oh and the blurb sounded alright :P. I liked the cool war-looking front covers, but not anymore thank God!

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  • 3 months later...

In selecting my next read it varies. Sometimes I will choose it base on subject matter and a title that catches my attention. However, I like to find new books by researching the authors and read up on what these books are about. Doing this will also lead me to other works by certain authors that I may have missed or came in a different points of their careers. Thanks to the power of the internet it is easy to do this.

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  • 1 year later...

I tend to browse the shelves in book shops and libraries and pick books at random. I’m not concerned with the Author so much at this stage. The title or the cover might grab my attention fiirst. If, after reading the first couple of pages I like it, then I borrow or buy the book. 

I avoid reading reviews or info about the author until I’ve finished the book. A short comment by someone telling me what the book is about wouldn’t bother me at all, as long as they don’t give away too much. 

 

Meant to add - I do go by some recommendations 

Edited by Loretta
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Nowadays, I'll find myself going to Amazon, and typing the genre I'm curious about into their search engine.  Then I'll scroll through what comes up.  Anything that seems interesting, I'll take a peek at the reviews.  If the reviews are mostly positive, then I'll hop on over to GoodReads, and see what they have to say.  Between the two, I'll have a pretty good idea if I'm going to enjoy a book or not.  Occasionally, a review or a mention on BookTube will pique my interest.  It varies.

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  • 5 months later...

Back in the day, I got the majority of my books from charity shops, so I would just go in and mooch around the books browsing what they had, initially it would be if the title jumped out at me or if the cover attracted my attention, then I would read the blurb and if that heightened my interest I would read the first page and if I wanted to continue then I would buy it,  if it was a subject which interested me (in the case of non-fiction books) was another factor.  Now I tend to browse Amazon instead, I get a number of emails offering deals and the like and I will always have a look at what's on offer and I pretty much go by the same plan, title and cover, then I read the blurb and at that point I make the decision, sometimes I will download a free sample of the book if I am not totally convinced before buying.  Very occasionally I will seek out a book if I have enjoyed a TV adaptation of it but more often than not it is the other way around and I watch the TV adaption after reading the book. If I have read something else by a particular author and enjoyed it I will gravitate towards another book by them, and have a little look. Another interesting point -  I have also bought books from recommendations and reviews on here,  yet funnily enough I don't take any notice of Amazon/Goodreads reviews, partly as I'm never sure if they are genuine or not, and I will only read these reviews after I have read a book and made my own mind up about it.

Edited by Apple
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