How do you decide what to read?
If you had asked me that question prior to my recent participation in the online writing community, I’d have told you that my book buying habits were primarily driven by the following:
- Recommendations by people who read the same types of books I do. These people are all, coincidentally, relatives. When my father was alive, I read every book he raved about. I’ll also read anything my stepmother Andy, or my Uncle Denis pass along.
- Books I find in the reviews section and sometimes the ads in the New Yorker.
- New books from authors I already like.
- Selections that arrive monthly from my membership in the Odyssey Bookshop Signed First Editions Club
- The old fashioned way – a leisurely afternoon browsing through a bookstore. Scott and I can both spend hours hanging around bookstores and I’ve found plenty of gems I wasn’t looking for that way.
Recently, my book buying habits have changed a little. I’ve started buying hard covers again when they’re available. You never know when you might have a chance to get a book signed. I’ve got Michael Chabon’s first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (which I bought in 1988 at a Stars and Stripes Bookstore in Germany – a first edition from a Pulitzer Prize winner; who knew?) all ready to take along to his upcoming book signing of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union at the Tattered Cover in Denver.
I’ve also stopped buying used books on Amazon Marketplace if they’re new releases for debut authors. This is only because I’m now cognizant of the fact those purchases won’t count toward the author’s sales and – well; it seems like the right thing to do to give a new author a fighting chance. I’ll buy older used books all day long through Marketplace, especially if the author is dead or is a best seller with more money than God.
The biggest change to my book buying is I’ve been buying a lot of books written by authors I’ve run across in this forum. Most of these are books I probably wouldn’t be aware of if I weren’t out here with all of you. It’s partly out of a sense of cheering the team and supporting our new authors because these aren’t all books that I’d instinctively buy, but I’m excited about the possibility of finding some new favorites. My first wonderful surprise was Patry Francis and The Liar’s Diary, and then I discovered Judy Merrill Larsen and All the Numbers. I’ve read both of these terrific novels and hope to one day get them signed by these wonderful ladies.
As I’ve been tapping along on this, the UPS man just dropped off Mia King’s Good Things. Tish Cohen’s Townhouse should be here next week, as should Jennifer McMahon’s Promise Not to Tell. Don’t get me started on the pre-orders! Patricia Wood’s Lottery and John Elder Robison’s Look Me in the Eye are on pre-order together, and Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Prime Time will be on its way soon.
I am very anxious to read Therese Fowler’s Souvenir when it becomes available to pre-order.
So my “to be read pile”, which includes Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love, Ernest Hebert’s Spoonwood, Don Delillo’s White Noise, Max Barry’s Company, Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant and Richard Yates’s The Easter Parade is reaching dangerous heights.
I won’t even go into the books on writing, piled all over the house.
So, how do you decide what your next read will be? Are you influenced by reviews, and if so, which ones? Do you have a favorite place to buy books? Places you won’t buy books? Is the rumored disappearance of newspaper book review sections something you care about?