How I Choose What To Read

The other day I finished reading a novel (An Unsubstantiated Chamber by William J Jackson — do yourself a favor and get a copy) and was looking over my library to see what I wanted to read next.

With a couple thousand titles to choose from I was having a bit of a dilemma. Fiction or nonfiction? Sci-fi or mystery? Fantasy or horror? Or maybe a classic? I couldn’t make up my mind.

Then I got to thinking about Kate Summer’s article, which I’d talked about previously. I re-read the article and discovered, after I thought about it, in the matter of choosing books I was no different than most men.

I’m not a bookclub member. I don’t look to Twitter, Facebook, or G+ for recommendations. I can’t stand the clunky and cluttered layout of Goodreads and no longer go there.

Instead, I get recommendations from friends, online book reviews, or online recommendations from blogposts, podcasts, or the like. I also search Google or Amazon for books related to my interests, both fiction and nonfiction. For example, I like airships and regularly look for fiction and nonfiction books related to airships.

Of the methods listed above, getting recommendations from friends is probably the method I use the least.

Women, on the other hand, tend to be very social and tell others what they’re reading, or want to read, or freely ask who’s reading what. That is something most men simply do not do.

When I look at my own habits regarding reading, I do not usually talk about what I’m reading. On occasion I will tweet #amreading. But that has more to do with helping spread the word about other authors’s work, than it is me wanting to share with the world what I’m reading. The same with the writing of reviews.

So I find that I’m pretty much like most men when it comes to choosing a book to read and talking about what I’m reading, or more accurately not talking about what I’m reading.

Getting back to that book that I wanted to read, I ended up choosing Terry Newman’s Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf. Now you may ask why did I choose that particular book and the answer is pretty simple.

Sometime ago Mr. Newman followed me on Twitter and we got to talking about our books and interests. I went over to Amazon and took a look at his book, read the reviews, took a look inside, and liked what I saw. In addition, Harper Collins only wanted $2.99 for the Kindle edition. $2.99 from a Big 5 Publisher is a rarity and I decided to buy. Even though I have a no new Big 5 book purchase policy.

My discussion with the author got me looking, but it was the writing and the reviews that got me buying. Pretty much a solitary decision-making process.

And if you’re looking for a book to read, take a look at Mr Newman’s fantasy mystery, it’s very good. And it’s still only $2.99!

By the way, if you have any recommendations for those you-just-gotta-read-this-book books, please tell me about them in the comments.

Until next time, happy reading!

PS — The 8-Fold Path has moved to Thursdays. See you then!

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7 thoughts on “How I Choose What To Read”

  1. I choose books in a similar way, looking for those that match my preferences. Ratings and reviews are not so important. I lost faith in public opinion aeons ago. I prefer it if the author has offered a description or sample/look inside. This has often forewarned me of a potential infestation of drab pages. Price is the key, although I am somewhat scared of free books… unless the exist in a library.

    I’m currently crawling my way through a collection of ‘Swedish Folk Tales’, illustrated by John Bauer. It’s in hardback. I’m crawling because the book is big, the print is small, and time is always short.

    1. Yes, John Q Public is not the most discriminating of folks. Nevertheless, I do find negative reviews to be more helpful than positive ones. If in the negative reviews enough folk complain about the lack of editing or proofreading, then I probably won’t get the book. If the author doesn’t take pride in his or her product, why should I buy it? If enough complaints are made about flat characters or unrealistic plot, then I probably won’t buy the book. Very subjective all of that, but as you note: time is short and there are lots of good books out there. Why run with the questionable?

      Price is a factor. Only so much cash in the wallet. Free is very much a mixed bag. There is the good, the mediocre, the bad, and the ugly. But if the book is free, I’m not out anything but a little time if the book isn’t a good fit for me.

      Swedish Folk Tales I’m not familiar with — and there are lots of Swedes in Minnesota! I may have to put the book on my reading list.

  2. Hi,

    I’ve been reading Graham Greene’s The Comedians. I would definitely recommend it. It has taken me awhile to read it because I start to read it and my mind wonders to the troubles in Haiti that are the same as in the book. It starts me thinking about how many groups, including the U.S. government, have tried to get rid of the corruption in Haiti. Now, I’m thinking about how the U.S. government is leaning towards the Haitian government.

    Also, I’m reading The Bonjour Effect – The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed- by Barlow & Nadeau I am hoping it will help me think more like a French person and help me communicate better when I go to France in June. It is an interesting read on culture. Learning French is going very slowly, though.

    Right now, I’m looking for a light book to escape from reality.

    1. Modesty forbids me mentioning ‘DETECTIVE STRONGOAK AND THE CASE OF THE DEAD ELF’, but do have a look at the recommendation below. Thanks for mentioning ‘The Comedians’ Alice, I had somehow never heard of this Greene novel and I’ve never seen the film either. Very strange that!

    2. Hey Alice! I’ve never read Greene. I’ll put the book on the list. You are so very right: culture and language are inextricably bound. Understanding culture helps one understand the language. Hope you have great fun in France!

      As for light reading, Doc Newman’s Detective Strongoak is very funny, and recommended, although the tension mounts towards the climax. If you are looking for something totally light, I liked The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith. It was published in 1919 and is free here: http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-diary-of-a-nobody/

      Padua’s steampunk graphic novel Lovelace & Babbage is also a fun read. https://www.amazon.com/Thrilling-Adventures-Lovelace-Babbage-Computer-ebook/dp/B00N6PBHAS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486128737&sr=1-1&keywords=lovelace+and+babbage Although I find Kindle price to be obscene.

    1. Hey Doc! Thanks for dropping by! Hope you’re at work on Nicely #2. We don’t want #1 to feel lonely. 🙂

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