February 24, 2019
How Do I Choose My Next Read?
Modern Mrs Darcy inspired my thoughts about how I choose my next read during a recent webinar (paid content so I can’t provide a link). Thanks to Modern Mrs Darcy for causing me to stop and consider my strategies. This not a summary of her webinar, but its my response in exploring this topic. *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
8 Ways I Choose My Next Read
1. Genres & Covers
As tempting as a great cover can be, the genre and diversity aspects are more important considerations for me. I have set a goal to read more nonfiction as well. When choosing books, I’m intentionally looking for authors of color and authors who are women. I actively look for more “own voices” literature. In addition, I like to balance my reading with some Middle Grade and Young Adult selections.
Covers are not that important to me. Since I read ebooks almost exclusively, it’s not as easy for me to fall back on the tried and true strategies most commonly used if you were browsing physical copies in a book store. For example with an ebook, it’s more difficult to select a book by a cover because it doesn’t jump out at me the same as when I’m comparing it with fifty titles before me on a shelf at Target. When purchasing ebooks, I’m usually more focused on the kindle price! However, when I see a book reviewed, I definitely make a mental note about the appeal of a cover. Sometimes I can’t even remember what the title of my book looks like when I’m reading it because it’s not sitting around on an end table…..once I open it on my kindle and start reading, I never see the cover. Some of the covers I’ve recently loved include Amal Unbound, The Ensemble, How to Find Love in a Bookshop, Refugee, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls. One cover I don’t love and it almost caused me to miss a great read is Eden. Choosing a book by a cover is one of the disadvantages of reading ebooks, but it’s one of the most popular ways of choosing physical books. How many of you choose a book by the cover? What’s the last book you chose exclusively for the cover?
2. Trusted Reviewers
Because I’m part of the Bookstagram community (Instagram for accounts devoted to books and reviews) and follow many review blogs, I have identified several reviewers whom I trust in choosing books for my TBR. Find a blogger who focuses on the genres you love, and then also follow their reviews on the blog, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest. One of my most trusted sources for summer reading ideas is the Summer Reading Guide from the Modern Mrs Darcy website. How many of you choose books based on trusted reviewers?
3. Amazon and Goodreads Reviews
I pour over Amazon and Goodreads reviews in the following ways. First I check the 3 star reviews and then the 2s and 1s. I really want to know what issues other readers have with the book. I balance these out with a few 4 and 5 star reviews which are always glowing but are useful for identifying some strengths. I spend more time in the 3, 2, and 1 star range trying to identify any triggers (such as graphic violence, explicit sexual content, profane language, abuse, etc.) or possible pace, plot, structure, and/or writing problems. Then I evaluate the importance of these issues (balanced by the strengths) and if I can live with them during the reading experience. The danger with perusing reviews is that you might come across spoilers. Do you check out Amazon and/or Goodreviews before making a reading decision?
4. Pre Reading
If I were in a bookstore or library, I might do some pre reading: the first page, a random page from the middle, the introduction/preface and acknowledgments (this will sometimes give interesting information about the author’s purpose or reasons for writing the book), and the publisher’s summary on the back cover or flap. I’m careful and skeptical about the publisher’s sales pitch. Sometimes it doesn’t truly represent the content of the story or is misleading. With an ebook, I depend on the Amazon feature which allows me to download a sample. This gives me an idea of the writing style and tone. One more idea if you have multiple books in your hand that you want to read, is to “speed read” (I first heard this term and concept from Kate Olson Reads) each book for a certain amount of time (for example, three minutes). Do you scope out potential reads using any of these strategies?
One area that I honestly give very little weight to are blurbs by other authors found on the cover or inside pages. It’s my opinion that these blurbs have been carefully curated and cultivated…….perhaps these authors are friends or neighbors or in the same writing group. I’m a bit skeptical and usually don’t let them sway me. This is a personal opinion……do any of you feel the same way?
I don’t read a book simply because it’s receiving a lot of hype…..I make sure it’s the right read for me. Sometimes if I’m not sure, I allow some time for the hype to die down. I can usually tell if it’s for me because multiple reviewers whom I trust will review and recommend. This is a little tricky because I have a great deal of FOMO and I love to read new releases and be a part of the initial buzz! Although sometimes a great deal of buzz sets the reader up with expectations that are too high and it ends up a disappointing read. Even a favorite author’s new book might not meet your expectations. The last book I read with a lot of buzz was Where the Crawdads Sing and, for me, it lived up to the buzz. What’s the last book you chose based on the buzz? Did you enjoy the read?
7. Best Friends
If you are lucky to be surrounded by readers in your life, you might depend upon a recommendation from a best friend. Before I started closely following reviews, I interrogated my friends that I met for lunch. My first question was always, “What are you reading?” because I knew that we enjoyed the same genres and quality of literature. Friends were always good for a few recommendations and I had reads for the next few months. My mom shares a Kindle account with me, so her next reads come from my ebook library. Luckily, we have similar bookish tastes. Do you have a friend you can ask for a recommendation? Sometimes I “push” books on my friends by buying them my favorite read of the year for a Christmas gift. Do you receive books or titles from your best friends?
When choosing my next read, I always have to consider my book club and NetGalley commitments. I’m a part of three book clubs: Modern Mrs. Darcy (online club, $10/month fee, title/discussion threads provided), Postal Book Club (a mailing group of 6 people who share/rotate books and a mailing deadline every two months), and an IRL (in real life) book club (monthly commitment). In addition, I’m under obligation to read and review free books that I receive from publishers via NetGalley (so I monitor pub dates to determine my reading priorities). When I think about my next read, I must take these commitments into consideration first. Do you have a commitment to a book club? If you’re a mood reader (like me) sometimes it can be difficult to read a book you feel like you “have” to read (especially if you have to forgo reading the latest release that’s receiving all the buzz!….or is that just me?).
Do any of these methods for choosing your next read resonate with you? How do you most often choose your next read?
Even though I read about 100 books per year and I’ve done my best to check them each out, not every read meets my expectations. Reading is still a personal experience and no two readers read the same book. One that I love might not resonate with you at all. Only the books I’ve rated 4 and 5 stars will be reviewed on the blog. I want to be a blogger you can trust. You can always find all my reviews on Goodreads.
Share with me! How do you choose your next read? What methods have been the most successful for you? Do you have tips/strategies you can add? Is there a book you’ve picked up because of reading a review here?
*This weekend while blog hopping, I came across a post with the same topic…..so enjoy this perspective from bookidote blog
I’m curious how my reviews are resonating with all of my followers. If you are a regular reader, would you consider taking one or two minutes to comment about a book you read based on reading a review here? I’d love to hear.
A Few Trusted Reviewers
I follow a lot of blogs…..listed below are a few of the blogs/podcasts that I check most frequently. There are too many to list here…..these are a sample of a few recent posts that I’ve read.
Modern Mrs Darcy Blog & What Should I Read Next Podcast
Jennifer~Tar Heel Reader Blog
The Lexington Bookie Blog
The Secret Library Book Blog
My newest discovery is Orange County Readers
From the Front Porch Podcast (books reviews/book talk with a side of southern charm)
Reading Women Podcast (reviewing books about women written by women….lots of literary fiction, interviews, and thoughtful book talk)
***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.
Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.