Thursday, August 24, 2006

How Do You Choose What To Read?

There's the Gutenberg Project, with an online catalog of over 18,000 free books (and growing, as ever more old books enter the Public Domain)...

There's, the world's biggest (and most accessible) bookstore...

There's all the good, established authors who are not only releasing a lot of new novels, but also releasing older books for free reading online...

And in addition to that, there are so many well-stocked bookshops near you - in train stations, shopping centers, convenience stores, and kiosks.

So I ask you, the average reader: How do you do it? Faced with this fantastic range of available books, all old books plus the recent and present ones... how do you choose what to read? More and more, I'm being overwhelmed by all this limitless choice.

And I'm starting to seriously wonder if it's pointless that I should write new fiction, when I'll have to compete with both the sum of all books written plus the flood of other new releases.

How do you do it? Please tell.


Hans Persson said...

Mostly, I listen to other people recommend stuff. I seldom go out and buy stuff after one recommendation, but after a while several people have recommended the same book (either in person or in reviews), and then I get it.

Then of course there are a number of authors that I have already read most or all books by, and if they produce a new one I tend to get it on sight (Ian McDonald, China Mieville, Terry Pratchett, Iain Banks, etc).

The same goes for a few publishers: I have all books by Aleph, Paradishuset (now defunct) and Schakt.

And then, of course, I pick up books at random in bookstores. Sometimes they turn out to look interesting and I buy them.

Anonymous said...

I mostly look for good books in the library, if there's one I like, I'll go buy it (I'm that kind of person who read the books over and over again, so I want to have them home when I want them).
Then I read more books by the same author if I have found one book interesting. I think that if one book of a writer is boring, the others are probably the same, so I don't read them, but if I like the book I read the rest of that writer to.
I never read e-books and seldom pocket books. E-books are uncomfortable, even with a hand-hold computer and pockets gets broken so easy.

Kiss N Tell said...

It depends. I'm in a period of my life were I don't read neraly as much as I used to. But wandering around in a bookshop/library I would stop to look at a book for one of three reasons.

1. I like the title. The title makes me read the back and that hopefully makes me think that the book might be good.
2. I like the athour.
3. It's a popular book that people recommended.

There you go.

Arman said...

If I walk into a bookstore and browse sci-fi titles for example, I usually go for the title, to some extent the cover, and also the blurb. Oftentimes I also read a few paragraphs at random.

If I like what I see and the price is right I'll buy the book.

Usually I'm instantly turned off by blurbs with the word 'evil' in them. Or if the plotline seems to be a cliche in any other way for that matter. I like to be surprised, so if the story seems original, that's a good sign.

I'm also turned off when it's obvious that the whole cover, blurb and everything is aimed at the lowest common denominator. It makes the book seem too commercial, detracts from its artistic value and makes me feel like an 'ordinary stupid Joe Shmoe' for buying it.