Friday, March 6, 2009

What do you look for in a book?

Most writers love to read. I, myself, am a vociferous reader. My local public library sees me darken their doorway every week. I always have a stack of books on my dresser that I'm waiting to read: children's books, nonfiction, fiction, bestsellers, fantasy, and so on. As you can see, I'm an eclectic reader.

A good book is like fine chocolate. You place it in your mouth, savor the fine taste, roll it around with your tongue to hit all the taste buds.

What do I look for in a good book? I look for strong characters and a dynamic plot. I look for characters who are real and experience normal turmoils and angst. But what leads me to pick up the book in the first place, to decide to check it out of the library, or to buy it from the store?

Of course, there is the author's name. The more successful they are, the bigger their name is on the face of the book. I constantly prowl Publisher's Weekly bestseller's list. I find old friends, and take chances on new ones, by title alone, and hope I've made a good choice. Some books I've picked up because I've heard others laud the virtues of that book. I've learned to listen, but to ultimate trust my own instincts over some other reader's, because I know best what I like.

Then there's the book cover. Is it too weird? Does it speak to me of the content (possibly) of the book? Is it faintly scandalous? I LOVE scandalous! Does the title sound interesting or compelling?

There's the back cover, too. I always check it for a nice blurb or possibly an excerpt. What I don't like are the books that give you short review slices of prior books and tell you nothing about the current book.

Can't forget the first page of the actual story. Does it draw me in right away? And I mean, right away? I open the book, and if I'm not captivated by the end of the first page, I don't usually buy it or check the book out of the library.

Am I too picky, I sometimes wonder. Or am I more representative of the average buyer, the average reader? I've taken chances on new authors. Sometimes I've been really pleased and look for other books by that author. Sometimes, I get what, for me, is a real dud, and I'm mad at myself for not checking the book out better before I paid for it.

What about you? What do you look for in a book? What draws you in, what makes you buy that particular book?


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Either word of mouth, an author I've enjoyed before, an interesting cover, or an intriguing concept may lead me to buy one book over another when wandering down the aisles of a bookstore.

Jane Kennedy Sutton

Anonymous said...

When I'm just looking for something to read, I'll check the books my friends are reading on Goodreads and borrow them from the library. These days I'm restricting my book purchases to only those that are written by folks I know personally (this list has now expanded thanks to the Blog Book Tours group).

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm a very picky reader, but when I find a good book it's like gold, or chocolate. (g) I do like to savor it.

Morgan Mandel

Anonymous said...

I look for favorite authors or interesting plots.

Margaret Fieland said...

If it's a library book, then I'll check it out if the cover and the blurb look interesting. If I'm buying it, I'll always read a bit first, at least! I also look for stuff by my favorite authors. Or just because it's there.

Linda Austin said...

Katie, what you look for is exactly why self/indie publishers need to pay sharp attention to the looks of their book. We DO judge a book by its covers (and title). Personally, I tend to avoid bestsellers and go for something different. Maybe that's the indie publisher in me.