I’ve been on the Goodreads site, rating the books I’ve read. Analysing my own behaviour as a reader, I’ve been surprised by what I’ve picked out: historical fiction, adventure, romance, thriller, literary, fantasy, young adult, psychological, crime, contemporary, epic, speculative/science fiction, mystery. You name it, I’ll try it. My significant other groans when I announce I’m going on a buying trip in a bookshop. I’ll come out with a dozen or more books whose choice has baffled the bookseller, and him.
Why I pick the book up: attractive cover with dramatic figures, historical setting, intriguing font, colour impact, guns, uniforms, badges, symbols, classic painting or landscape or stylised design, and a strapline or testimonial that pulls my interest.
Next, I read the blurb and reviews: an intriguing dilemma, possibly related to something I know about or which I can identify with, different timelines (a favourite!), a ‘what if’ or setting far away from my own one, some snippets about the main character(s), some urgency/deadline, the impact of the plot on others or the characters’ world and their world on them. Oh, and if it’s Romans in any shape, form or reference, that gets extra points of attractiveness.
Then I read the first paragraph, followed by the remainder of the page. If I’ve reached page five without realising, that’s a very good sign. I’ll glimpse in the middle, but I won’t be tempted to look at the ending or I’ll spoil it for myself.
The other main reason I have books on my shelves is a recommendation: by a friend, a magazine/newspaper/radio programme, a bookseller, a bookblog or Twitter. But I’m choosy about whose recommendation I pick up. Not all recommenders are equal.
Next post, I’ll look at what elements are common to books that are currently selling well.
But first, what makes you stretch out your hand to pick up a particular book?
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