Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book selection: What's your method?

I feel like book selection is an important ritual. Reading a book is a significant investment in time. Well, it is for me, at least. I'm not a speed reader, and my attention span isn't gonna win any marathons, so it takes me a few days to finish any novel. (My sister, however, is a book fiend! She can spend the entire weekend plowing through a new book to get to the end, even foregoing sleep to reach her destination. Hats off!)

To that end, I have developed a highly scientific method of picking out books:

I go to the bookstore/library and pull something off the shelf.

Okay, it's not quite that haphazard. I read the blurb on the jacket cover (I'm having a brain fart on what that's called again, grr). I peruse the first few pages. I even look up book reviews on my phone while scanning the bookshelves (thank goodness for smartphones and 3G!).

But after all this impromptu "research", I usually end up going with my gut feeling.

My track record isn't spotless, by any means. I ended up settling on Michael Scott's The Alchemyst and Angie Sage's Septimus Heap: Magyk this way. Those were enjoyable enough reads. I'm also very much enjoying my current book Here, There Be Dragons, which I also stumbled upon at the library. However, I've also managed to pick up books I never finished (e.g., Wayne Thomas Batson's The Door Within and DJ MacHale's first Pendragon book Denduron).

Unfortunately, I don't have many face-to-face reader friends. My sister is about the only one, and I will say that I've very much enjoyed her recommendations so far. I have picked up some suggestions from you guys as well, so maybe I can ditch my hit-and-miss method in the near future.

How do you guys normally pick what's on your to-read list? Do you have a book club (online or otherwise)? Do you peruse Amazon's favorite lists? Do you use Goodreads?

Or do you get awesome Christmas gifts from your sister? :P (Thanks, Pig!)


  1. I vehemently use Goodreads, I was the #48 reviewer one week. Ha.

    I usually select books based on the cover.

    *shock and awe*

    That is the sole reason it took me three years to give Percy Jackson and the Olympians a chance. I know, I'm horrible, I think the covers are horrid.

    Well, honestly, it has proved the most successful tactic. Fourteen of my top thirty favorites were selected based on their cover. And two of the other sixteen are sequels to one of the original fourteen. It works. It really works.

    The second route I find most of my books through is recommendations from friends. My book buddy Lisa always recommends great ones.

  2. I find mine reading blogs. I especially like blogs that show the covers!

  3. I lurk on twitter and facebook and see what's all the rage. I find a lot of suggestions on blogs. And I always, always (ALWAYS) read the first chapter of the book standing right there in the library or book store. I'll read a lot more than that before I decide to quit, but I usually know by the end of the first chapter if it's something I want to fork out money/time for. You know?

  4. Jon: Um wow! #48? That's pretty sweet! And yes, the cover does seem to be your thang. The Percy ones are trash, but I guess it's good enough for the tweeny boppers, right?

    Tina: Whew, good thing I steal those cover images from the innernetz! :)

    Elana: Nice on reading a whole chapter! I need to do something like that. But the downtown SLC public library charges $1.25 for every half-hour you are parked downstairs. I'm a cheapo, so my trips there are somewhat frantic. :)

  5. Awwww pig! There were so many shout outs to me in this post, I'm blushing. :) I also base reading decisions on covers but I always like going off personal recommendations and my new favorite way of finding books is the masses of lists on Goodreads. I also follow many of my fav authors' blogs and there's always good ideas there too. Thanks again for this post, I feel so special. :)