I rarely read a book just because someone recommended it to me (though I do take into account some of my preferred writers’ suggestions.) And the bestseller list is only one of the many places where I look for new books to read. The fact is that while I love reading, I also love discovering books all by myself.
For sure, a book with a captivating cover can catch my attention. But then, this is just an easy and very rough way I use to come up with a manageable number of books I can then examine more in depth.
After I have chosen the potential candidates, of each I read the blurb. But given that most of them read like ads, I don’t give them too much weight. I read them just to make sure the book is about the themes I’m most interested in.
Finally, I actually crack open the books and start reading them. This last step is by far the most important. In fact if after having read the first five to ten pages I like the writer’s style, chances are I’m going to buy the book.
I don’t care that much about attention-grabbing hooks, exciting inciting incidents, and all the various fireworks that budding writers are so often advised to put in their first pages. As a matter of fact, I believe strong writing doesn’t need fireworks; strong writing is its own fireworks—but I’m digressing.
After all, given that a book is made of words–a lot of them–the most reasonable thing to do when choosing one is exactly that: reading some of the damn words.
Often enough covers, titles, and blurbs have little to do with what lies between the first and the last page of a book. In fact there are books which sport great covers, titillating titles, and mesmerizing blurbs and yet are poorly written, to say the least.
And often they sell.
However this shouldn’t come as a surprise. A well marketed book isn’t necessarily a well-written one. And a well-written book isn’t necessarily a best seller. Even if it’s true that one of the best ways to market your book, if you’re serious about your writing and you’re in for the long haul, is to write a damn good one.
Reading the first few pages of the books that most pique my interest can be a bit more time consuming than just looking at the covers and skimming through the blurbs, but this is just an impression.
In fact, investing more time during the selection process helps me find a larger number of stories–of more interesting stories. Instead the other way around, I would constantly run the risk of falling prey to marketing ruses, so ending up going through a poorly written book for maybe fifty pages only to then hurl it away in frustration, begin a new one and repeat the whole process.
And you? How do you go about when it comes to discovering new exciting books to read?
For an interesting article about why so many bad books sell on Amazon read this blog post by Katherine Marsh