Thursday, April 25, 2013

Discussion: what ultimately makes you pick one book over another?

Hello lovelies :)

I've decided to try my hand at a discussion post again and I want to aim at making those a more frequent feature if I can. I really enjoyed the last one, where we talked about romance.

Today's topic is something I think about quite a lot and find really interesting to compare with other poeple.

What ultimately makes you decide you want to read/buy a book?

I'm not talking about finding it vaguely interesting, I mean that moment when you really make the decision 'I am buying this instead of the 10+ others around it' at the bookstore or put it on your 'I really really want to read this' list or the moment you choose it from the unread ones on your shelves. How do you decide what to read and what to pass on?

The cover
I think that's an important point for many people. We do judge books by their covers, for better or worse. Is it pretty? Shocking? Appealing? Does it stand out because of colors/font? Quite often I need only look at the cover to guess the genre.
Personally, I love looking at pretty covers. They often make me pick up a book and turn it around to read the description. But that doesn't mean I auto-buy the book. If I read the description and I'm not convinced, I won't buy the book unless I've read some great reviews. I've heard of people preordering/buying books by virtue of the cover alone though. How do you handle it?

The description
I think that's the most important thing to me. If the book sounds like 3 other ones I've already read (very frequent in YA paranormals/dystopians), I will get bored. If it sounds like tons of drama, I'll put it away. But if it intrigues me, I will buy it no matter how ugly I think fhe cover is. So one of my absolute pet peeves is books who have a lot of review quotes on their back instead of actual info of what they are about! I don't care what these people thought, the publishers only put the positive reviews on there anyway!
How do you feel about descriptions? Do you read them? Does a book sounding similar to another one you've already read make you more or less likely to buy it?

The title
This is tricky. If the cover got my attention, I often don't read the title before I've read the description on the back. I tend to skip big, bold text and get to the details immediately. Weird, I know. I often skip newspaper headlines. However, if the book is not lying on one of those tables but on the shelf, all you have is the title on the back of the book. So then it really depends on whether it sounds interesting to me. Is it funny? Does it have some of my favorite words in it? That will make me pull out the book to see what it's all about.

Length / how 'big' the book is
I don't own this picture. Source.

Some people like huge tomes, others feel daunted by that and prefer thinner volumes. As a teen I felt that anything shorter than 300 pages wasn't worth my time. Now I get fidgety at everything over 500 pages and have learned to appreciate shorter ones. Ultimately though, I don't really care as long as it sounds interesting and is well written.

Reviews / hype
If a book got great reviews from people I trust, I'm more likely to give it a shot even if it's not what I usually read. But I get a bit weary of a book being hyped too much or compared to other, really successful books. ('The new Twilight/Hunger Games!' Even if it has zero to do wit the book that sticker or whatever is on)
How do you feel about that? Does a hype attract you or put you off?

I don't know how to properly describe this but it's actually the most important thing to me. Call me superstitious but some books just call out to me. I see them and I know 'I have to read this'. It's like a jolt. When I read the description, I just know that I'm going to love it and I am right about 90% of the time. It's happened a few times that a lot of people got all excited about a title that just made me shrug my shoulders... and then the negative reviews began to trickle in and they pointed out all the bad stuff I had feared about the book.
Does any one else get this type of hunch about books? Or, you know, for some inexplicable reason pull one from the shelf only to think 'oh my god this sounds amazing'? Call me silly but I think that for each of us, there are books we are just meant to read, and they will find their way to us somehow.

There are many more factors that I think come into play, such as having read the author's other work, read an interview, the genre, your mood... feel free to discuss those too, or anything else you think I have forgotten! I'd really love to hear how you pick your reads :)


  1. I love discussions, so great thinking. If you wan to do this on a regular basis, I'm game. ;)
    Okay, let's do this. Point by point.
    Covers: Heck yeah. I'm totally for pretty, intriguing, special covers. But they're not all there is to a book. However, sometimes I buy another edition of a book because I find the other cover version better. For example, I got me the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy not in the three-colored box, but in the black-white-silver version. And sometimes a cover has me so reeling, that I cannnot live with having a e-book version but have to buy me a physical copy to set on my shelf and admire.
    Description: Very important, of course. They give a hint to the writing style and topic, and ususally get me on the right side on the fence. I hate those version where you only get excerps from other ppls reviews as well, the publishers are always just screwing with this stuff, it's their job! However, I had several experiences where the summary didn't do the book justice, positive as well as negative.
    Title: Hmm... Ususall not so much what I look at. Of course there are same that instantly capture your attention -- the sound of it, not size or font or whatever. Okay, sometimes the how of it woven into the cover plays a role as well, but rarely. I think the title is minor to me.
    Length: I so don't care. Okay, I have to say that with how fast my tbr pile is growing, I am more and more reluctant to pick up lengthy books because they'll take longer. But that won't stop me from reading something I really want, like some really lenghty historical books, i.e. Fall of Giants by Ken Follet.
    Hype: I rarely go with the hype. The Hunger Games got me, but I only caught on shortly before the movie came out. I'm really not paying attention to this kind of stuff. Dante Walker got me as well, but I've seen some negative reviews pop up from friends lately, soo.. I don't know if I'll stay with it or not. But I'm still looking forward to it just as much as before, and the book is going to make up my mind, nothing else.
    Reviews: Yes, I think I would tend to pick up something follow bloggers I trust have rated good before something I know nothing much about. However, since I am behind on everything, always it also gives me time to collect information, like teasers and swoons. Gosh, I'd die without those! However, I NEVER read reviews of a book I still want to read myself. I'm a hard case of spoiler-phobia. :P I only look at the rating, and read some reviews after I've written my own. Sometimes that can be deceiving, but it works most of the time.
    Instinct/Feeling: I DO NOT trust my book instinct. It has screwed me over time and again, so I don't listen to it anymore. I do go with my mood, but when I'm like that I'm reminding myself to shut off all expectations.
    In the end, I can say I mostly go by cover and discrpition. The moment I decide on a buy is ususally when I read the last line of the summary/description and it just clicks.

    1. Woooh, I love your long reply :D
      Agreed, a pretty cover can definitely make me want to go paperback/hardover rather than ebook! Same with interior book design - I'm reading Wither by Lauren DeStefano at the moment and it's sooo gorgeous!
      Yeah I also often don't pay too much attention to the title, especially when the book lies on a table and I can see the front cover. Often the title has nothing to do with the book anyway.
      I wish I could say I don't care about length, but as you said... the pile makes me weary of too long reads.
      Hype: as I said, it tends to rather turn me off a book, especially when it's allll about the love interest and how hot he is. It ultimately depends on the topic&writing though, I agree :)
      I've started to stay away from reviews for books I know I want to read anyway because I noticed that they influence me too much before I start reading. I love checking them out afterwards though! And if I'm on the fence, reading a couple reviews and comparing them to figure out how I might perceive things is helpful. I tend to stay away from the swoons, haha XD
      I'm a mood reader when it comes to books I already own. For not-for-review books I read what I feel like.
      Thanks so much for stopping by :D

  2. For me, it's a combination of all of those things. Sometimes, one aspect plays into my decision more than the others, but there's always at least a couple of those factors involved in the decision-making. Except the length of the book. I never let the number of pages keep me from reading a book, unless I've had experience with the author's work before and know that they tend toward the verbose rather than succinct. But the factor that probably matters most to me is the premise of the book. I don't want to read a summary of the whole story, but I want to have a general idea of what I'm getting into and if it's unique or more of the same.

    Great discussion post, Carmen! I want to get back to doing these, but I've been pretty busy lately. :(

    1. I agree Jen, it's a combination of several things and it's sometimes hard to pry apart what had how much weight on the decision. I'm not daunted by length exactly, I've read a couple books that were 1000+ pages, but when I'm busy with either life or with review books I prefer shorter stuff, also because I don't want to carry such a huge tome in my bag.
      The premise is the most important thing to me too. It has to stand out somehow and not press more than 1 of my peeve buttons. I also admit that it has to make it stand out from other books in the genre in some way. If I feel like I already know how the story's going to go (another PNR/typical dystopian plot) I don't want to read it anymore. Maybe that's mean and makes me miss out on a couple great stories, but there are just too many novels out there, you've got to limit yourself somehow.
      Thanks for dropping by! I hope your busy-period will be over soon because I always enjoyed your discussion posts :)

  3. Since I regularly troll amazon for cheap books and goodreads for recommendations, it's reviews first. Number, how many five-stars vs. every other rating, and what reviewers say. All my favorite books have come through recommendations.

    Next is cover/description equally, though if it costs more than about $4 for the e-book, I'll go to Better World Books to find a used copy if I can.

    And I actually choose longer books over shorter ones. If it's under 300 pages I'm afraid there won't be enough world-building.

    Interesting discussion posts - thanks for the thought-provoking questions!

    1. I agree, recommendation is a great factor! Though I admit I pay less attention to stars and more to people's actual thoughts. I've decided against books with loads of 5 star reviews because what those reviewers praised were elements I personally can't stand in a character/book.
      I also have that fear with really short books! But with contemporaries I've realized that it's less of an issue. Also, the Italian author Alessandro Barrico has written a book called Seta that is exactly 100 pages and it's one of my favorites :)
      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Awwww fabulous discussion post yet again Carmen ♥ You honestly covered all the bases for me here. I definitely am attracted to pretty covers too, but it's certainly not a deciding factor. I've even begun to be a bit weary of the 'too pretty covers' because sometimes those books that everyone seems to want just cause of the cover end up being flops. Titles can tug at my curiosity too depending on how unique or evocative they are. Usually the bigger deciding factors are the description coupled with reviews for people I trust/share similar tastes in books. Though I am weary of hype, and if a book gets too well reviewed I tend to start looking for negative reviews to balance my mind out. I'm weird, I know >.< Like you though it all boils down to feeling/instinct (I love that you said it AND how you described it) Sometimes out of all the books on my wishlist, I'll hold a book close to my chest and sort of 'know' that's the one I'll be the book was calling to me or it's the 'right' time to read that particular one! Sigh ♥ I love that pull towards a kindred book :D

    I kinda want to go to the bookstore now LOL but I can't! Anyways thanks for the sharing about such a great topic!!

    1. I agree, sometimes I'm wary of really pretty covers too, especially the girl-in-a-dress ones unless I've already heard of the author or seen the book praised.
      I don't think looking for negative reviews with hype books is weird at all! I do that too. I think it's this whole idea of something being too good to be true. I like having some sort of balance, and especially if the positive reviews are mostly gushing about 'feels' without giving any reasons for why exactly the book was so great, that sort of raises my suspicion flag.
      I love how you described the book-friend instinct! :D That's exactly it! You just know that this is the right moment to read that particular book or you feel pulled to it at the store without being able to say why exactly!
      Thanks so much for commenting ^^ I think I should do these discussion thingies more often... I've been thinking about doing one about re-reading for a while.

    2. I envy your attachment to your books. I don't think I have that, ever. I love looking at my babies, sometimes holding them, but they never, like... share they aura with me expect while reading. =(

    3. It's not with every book, but it's awesome when it happens :) Maybe you haven't found the right books yet? (ugh it sounds like we're discussing guys... I'm definitely better at finding books lol)

  5. I'm definitely in the reviews/hype camp I think. I am so nervous about buying books and not liking them that I rely on bloggers with similar taste to help me out. I'll read the description on Goodreads because I dislike back-of-the-book descriptions generally. I'll read over some reviews on Goodreads and I'll ask my friend who works in the bookstore what she thinks I'll enjoy.

    As far as choosing from my own shelf goes, I previously bought a few too many books, and so now I have lots of unread books on the shelf to choose from. I am working on review books right now, but if a non-review book is calling to me strongly and keeps getting amazing reviews, I'll take a break for it. I sort of have things ordered in purchase order, since I feel guilty having gotten Throne of Glass last year and I still haven't read it *hides*. Because of this, I've been super hesitant to buy any new books. This hasn't helped me keep from requesting NetGalley books though *sigh*