Thursday, September 29, 2011

Choosing What to Read

Remember when, to choose a book, you had to browse a library or bookstore? We still can, of course, and we can browse places like Kindle and Smashwords, too. Review magazines, such as The Horn Book, are yet another source of titles. 

But in the last couple of years or so, I, like many of you, have been getting my book recommendations online. Really, "online" is not as accurate as "by word of mouth." People are out there talking about books, on Goodreads, on blogs, on message boards, on sites dedicated to MG or YA novels.

You know what? I'm not so sure it's working for me.

There was a time when I had read a large majority of the MG novels in my small-town library. But seldom do I pick up the physical books and thumb them anymore. I hear about books online. I even add to the online recommendations with my own blog. And at the same time, something's been happening: I now actually like/read/can finish less than 50% of what I'm picking up.

Is there a connection? Is researching books online not enough of a predictor of whether I'll really like a certain story? I'd be interested in hearing opinions/experiences.


Kelly Polark said...

I do read a lot of recommendations from blogs. But I do realize what I like and don't like, and I won't read a premise that I really don't think I'll like (exception is Hunger Games. I didn't like the premise, but I ended up LOVING it!)
I also love to browse in the library and bookstores (but our closest Borders closed :(

Andrea Mack said...

I like having the option to find books I might like to read online.
Then I usually check to see if they are at my library.

But I also like to browse the shelves of physical books when I go the library or bookstore.

I wonder if there's something specific you're not liking about the books you find? Maybe it reflects a current trend in what is being published?

Ann Herrick said...

I think it takes longer to figure out the reliability of online resources as opposed to recommendations from people we know personally. It takes time to know tastes match.

Anonymous said...

I get most of my recommendations from blogs, Goodreads, and Amazon lists. I read most of the books I buy, but I'm careful choosing my purchases.

I still like to browse in bookstores to discover new books that I haven't seen anywhere else.

Vijaya said...

I think Ann makes an excellent point. The resource and you need to have similar tastes.

I have discovered great new authors via blogs and such that I would never have just browsing the library or bookstore, so I prefer to take the chance on ordering a book from the library. I still buy a lot of books online and that feature on Amazon that lets you look inside (sort of like browsing) has been the most helpful.

MaDonna Maurer said...

I live overseas, so library options are not always available. I get recommendations mainly from blogs that I follow, which of course seems to be people that have similar interests.

Kelly Hashway said...

When I get recommendations online or in person I have to sample the book before I get it. If I'm in a bookstore or library, I open up to page one and start reading. If I'm online, I go to the Look Inside feature and read page one. Usually I'll know after a page whether the story is right for me.

Laura Pauling said...

I usually can tell by the voice on the first few pages and the premise. I read Okay For now based on your recommendation and loved it. My impression is that you really enjoy the literary classic middle grade that doesn't get too trendy. you like a book with depth and real fleshed out characters, not just a fancy exciting plot. Honestly, I don't think there are as many of these books being published right now, so maybe that's why you've been disappointed?

I haven't read it yet, but Hound Dog True by Linda Urban seems to be up your ally. I'm waiting for my library to get it.

Mary Witzl said...

What Laura says about literary classic MG sounds good to me. I'm pretty much limited to what I can find in our tiny local library, where there are hardly any MG/YA books. I have bought books through Amazon and been disappointed with them despite glowing reviews. There are a few review blogs I trust (yours is one, Tabitha Olson's is another). Finding good, fair reviews is not easy, and I am grateful for blogs like yours. Writing those reviews can't be easy either.

One day I aspire to have enough time and money to catch up on a LOT of MG/YA reading.

Marcia said...

Kelly -- It's always too bad when you lose a bookstore. I find that sometimes even when I like the premise, I don't like the book (sigh).

Andrea -- That's what I do -- look for those books at the library. I too wonder how much the publishing trends are a factor. But I don't want to right away jump to the conclusion, "It's the stuff that's getting published."

Ann -- That's true. One person's awesome read isn't anothers.

Medeia -- I rely on blogs quite a bit, too. I find that's where I hear about newer books, whereas library books are from a much broader time frame. Still enjoy bookstore selections, but the choices are a bit narrow in children's and YA.

Vijaya -- Sometimes I think I need a reminder that the resource and I should have similar tastes. Often enough, if people are saying Book X is awesome, and I think it's boring, I wonder what's wrong with me.

MaDonna -- Really, it's great that we do have bloggy resources, isn't it? We're not just limited to our locality.

Kelly -- I need to make more use of the Look Inside feature. I will from now on.

Laura -- Yeah, that's pretty much my taste. Penderwicks, anyone? :) I do like plot, though. I get a little antsy if a book doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Thanks for reminding me about Linda Urban's new title. I enjoyed A Crooked Kind of Perfect.

Mary -- Thanks. :)I like reviews also; I used to make a lot of selections based on Horn Book reviews, but I dropped my subscription. Truthfully, I'm much less inclined to trust reviews from more amateur sources such as Goodreads.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I still do a lot of browsing in book stores and libraries even though I am also lured into reading books recommended online. This explains why my books-to-be-read pile is as tall as it is.

Susan Fields said...

I agree that I hear about most of the books I buy/read online, but most often I end up loving them. Not always, and I have been known to put down a book I'm not loving (there are just too many books and not enough time to force myself to finish something that's not working for me), but usually I'll end up liking the books. I still love going to the bookstore and browsing the actual books, though I've bought several that way that haven't appealed to me, either.

Marcia said...

Cynthia -- Ditto to everything you said! But my pile topples less than it used to. I've realized that a tall pile makes me feel hurried. No reason it really should, since most library books are renewable, and the ones you own aren't going anywhere. But there it is.

Susan -- I agree; there's no longer any reason to read what doesn't work for us. Most of the time, I don't buy books unless I already know I love them, though.