Friday, August 17, 2007

Reason to Buy a Book

What makes you choose a book to read? Hype? A friend’s recommendation? Meeting the author? The back cover blurb?

I’ve chosen books based on all those reasons. Probably the reason most likely to yield great results is the recommendation of a friend. But I’ve definitely found both good and not so good reads via other options.

Whenever I’m in a bookstore, I always browse the aisles, looking at book covers and titles, reading the back cover, then checking out the opening page. I often find books that way. Sometimes I like them; sometimes I don’t. I have to admit, though, I mostly roam the mystery/suspense aisles – or the writing/publishing aisle. I rarely venture into the romance, sci-fi/fantasy, YA or even non-fiction sections. I am trying to branch out, though, and recently have read romance, books heavy with fantasy/paranormal aspects and Young Adult.

I’ve also bought books because I met the author at a book signing. I don’t always buy the book just because I went to a book signing though (see my post called A Different Kind of Book Signing). Years ago I went to a talk/book signing with Sandra Brown. It was an intimate affair, with only about five of us invited. I really loved her talk and was impressed by her, but I didn’t buy the book. At the time, I didn’t read any romance and didn’t want to spend the money on a book I didn’t think I’d ever read. I’ve since read her and wish I’d bought the book and gotten it signed. Ah well. If I go to a book signing of a big name author, I may or may not buy the book. If I go to a signing for a local author, I’m much more likely to get their book and autograph. Supporting local authors, for me, plays a big role in my book buying.

Now, I hate to admit it, but I’m also influenced by hype. I bought the whole Young Adult/paranormal romance series by Stephenie Meyer just because I caught her on network TV and they said her books were hot with teen girls (and because they dealt with a fantasy world). That turned out to be a good decision because I enjoyed them. Often times, the less-than-accurate hype around a well-known author is what I shouldn’t listen to. There are some big authors who are churning out too many books either alone or with help. They often turn out to be less stellar than all the publicity surrounding their debut.

Recommendations from friends, though, rarely yield bummers. The non-fiction book I’m reading now, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, would never have come across my radar if Jo Virgil hadn’t recommended it. She was right, it’s very interesting and in some areas downright funny. I started reading The Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross on the advice of my cousin Rhonda. Wonderful Southern series. I’m reading the WaterLillies series by Deborah Smith because Pam Headrick of the bookstore A Thirsty Mind recommended it.

Always listen to your friends. They’re right more often than not.


  1. And it's an especially good sign if a friend recommends a book in her blog. Can't wait to discover something funny in a tale about cadavers. I'll admit to being a Harry Potter freak, too, so I'm sure I'll enjoy the young adult series you mention.
    Look what you've done, Helen... now I'm going to have to make yet another trip to the bookstore. Thanks, though, for the insight!

  2. I plan on keeping Stiff as a resource book. If you write mystery and ever need to know about human remains, it's a good book to keep on your shelf. Sorry about costing you money at the book store, but it's nice to see I'm not the only one with this spending habit!


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