How do you decide what to read?

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Davis Ashura, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. Davis Ashura

    Davis Ashura Would be writer? Sure.

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    Simple question. What is the primary means by which you decide that a book by a previously unpublished author is worth reading? Is it the cover art? Jacket copy? Reviews? Other author endorsements? Recommendations by friends?
     
  2. Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess

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    For me, it could be any of the above, though most likely a combination -- plus, if I happen to have the book actually in my hand (as opposed to ordering it online), a quick look inside to get an idea of the writing style.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2005
  3. Duanawitch

    Duanawitch Tea + Swords = Happiness

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    A vast combination of things really, but mostly reccomendations by friends or on forums (I've only been around this forum for a couple of months, but they really know how to bombard newbies with recommendations, which is nothing but a good thing), sometimes reviews... Also...impulse. I'm a book-stroker so immediate contact should be sensual: matt cover, maybe a raised title. ;)
     
  4. Jay_T

    Jay_T New Member

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    I find good authors recommend good books, I also have coem to trust a few reviewers. I have found reviewers like John Clute, and Matthew Cheney have exceptional taste, among a couple of others.

    Just to look at the last few previously unpublished books I read, and how I found out about them:

    I find good authors recommend good books:

    In the Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips was recommended to me buy her editor, damn good collection.

    Things That Never Were: Fantasies, Lunacies, and Entertaining Lies by Matthew Rossi, I picked up because I read one of favorite authors hyping it (Paul di Filippo, who wrote the forward), and I read his essays at Fantastic Metropolis which were truly fantastic.

    Genizah at the House of Shepher by Tamar Yellin, was being hyped by Jeff VanderMeer, and was also a phenominal short story author.

    The Crimson Sword by Eldon Thompson, was a book I read because it was a review copy, not usually a book that would interest me, but I try to pmp any new author I can to give people an opportunity to ttry them out for themselves.

    Regarding a debut effort by an author forthcoming, I am highly anticipating Hal Duncan's Vellum, after reading the premise of it, and being highly touted by Jeff VanderMeer. This along with Jeff Ford's Girl in the Glass, John. C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos, and Martin's A Feast for Crows are the 3 novels I'm most looking forward to this year.

    I picked up works by Jeff Ford (who wasn't new) because KJ Bishop recommended his work to me (phenominal)
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2005
  5. Hellsfire

    Hellsfire Registered User

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    If it's not recommended to me by someone or Amazon, then by book cover, title, and description. It's hard to buy something if it doesn't stand out in some way.
     
  6. Jay_T

    Jay_T New Member

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    Just to add (after reading Hellsfire response), I absoltely give no credence to 99% of the the opinions on Amazaon, a haven for absolutes , that naturally is a palce for peopel with strong emotions either negative or positive (aka fanboys), and hardly ever a palce you can get a sujective opinion.

    Hell ,the most famosu amazon poster gave Robert Newcomb a great rating, whcih si a testement to the irresponsible nature of the reviews there.
     
  7. Yobmod

    Yobmod Yobmod

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    I'm somewhat influenced by reviews and recomendations, but my to read pile is so long that the reccomendations have to be both overwhelmingly positive and sound like something i'd particularly like.

    I find that many books that are recomended disapear from peoples radar afer a few months / years, so if a book is still being recomended a long time after publication i take a lot more notice.

    However, choosing to read fantasy but refusing to read any series until it is finished means that 90% of the recommendations i see can be ignored.

    The biggest effect on my reading choices is award nominations. I read on locus that the chance of a fantasy/SF novel being nominated is 1/4 :eek: , so iobviously don't try to read them all, but they give a good pointer - especially to old books that are often otherwise forgotten about.

    http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/Faqtoids.html
     
  8. kingma15

    kingma15 Registered User

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    I normally choose books based on a synopsis of the plot... I will then search around on the web or on forums and see what the majority of the reviews say.. If it gets good reviews, and the story makes me say "wow. what a cool idea" then I will read it.

    Other times, I will just have the urge to read something like it, and will go searching for books that fit the description. For example, the current trilogy I am reading - The Empire Trilogy by Feist and Wurts. I just had the urge to read some Asian flavoured fantasy. So I did a yahoo search for "Asian flavoured fantasy novels" and found that trilogy. Boy I was glad I did!
     
  9. Jay_T

    Jay_T New Member

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    I defintely agree with Yobmod, for preferences like mine they are a great resource to quality books. They do a phenominal job.
     
  10. Yobmod

    Yobmod Yobmod

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    Hey Ainulindale, i think we must have very similar tastes :D I checked out your top 100 books and have read about a 2/3. Only a few that weren't on my reading list (mostly comic fantasies) so i'll think i'll add them too. Thanks!
     
  11. Jay_T

    Jay_T New Member

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    I just wanted to add that I extended that list to 200 recently, Here

    I have a question also kind of branching off from the related question ,are msot of you on-line shoppers or in-store shoppers?
     
  12. Murrin

    Murrin Registered User

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    Most of my recommendations come from message boards like this, where I can see a lot of peoples opinions. That's usually followed by a check of amazon to read a little about it.
    I used to get a lot of books just from browsing a store, though - just buying stuff that caught my eye (cover and blurb). Now I don't get much chance to do that, though.

    For Ainulindale's question: I buy most of my books through Amazon now, though I will occasionally spot some of them in the store and buy them there rather than wait for an order.
     
  13. Sell Sword

    Sell Sword Mayor of Otisburg

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    I read what Ainulindale reads so that I can disagree with him :D

    Hi, Madeline! I read The Hidden Stars a few weeks ago! ;)
     
  14. frogbeastegg

    frogbeastegg A frog with books

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    New books by authors I know and like almost always get read at some point. If an author produces a book I don’t like or am indifferent to then their next book is much less likely to be tried unless I can get it from the library. Two bad books and I pretty much write the author off.

    Aside from the known faces I follow recommendations from Amazon.uk if they sound good. Surprisingly I've had many more good books this way than bad. I frequently follow the links "Customers who bought this also purchased ..." and make some good finds this way. Amazon reviews have some very little influence, but mostly I am mistrustful of them. So many are written by idiots, too short to be useful, are inaccurate, or are biased

    I exchange recommendations with a few people via email, not knowing anyone in real life who reads as I do. I read several book related forums and make notes of any titles or authors which sound interesting. I do very rarely follow recommendations by authors I like, but not the cover blurb type of recommendation - I don’t even take any notice of that variety, as they are too brief to really be useful. I prefer the mini review type of recommendation usually found on an author’s website or in an interview.

    If I see an interesting looking book while browsing a bookshop I usually hit the net and look for reviews. I found my great to sucker rate was too high buying without doing a bit of research. My local bookshop seldom stocks anything interesting anyway.

    Covers only influence me so far as "Gah! So embarrassing it will have to be really tempting before I'll be seen with that!" If it looks like a cheap and tacky romance novel then I'm not a happy frog.

    Usually if I'm not sure about a book I hit Amazon.com and see if there are any excerpts available. That often swings me one way or another.

    Once in a very rare while an unusual thing prompts me to look at a book/series. For example I started reading Ellis Peter's Cadfael after seeing the first episode of the TV series.

    All that only decides if I try the book, not if I buy or try and get it from the library. Hehe, that’s less complicated: if I am very confident it will be good I buy. If I am unsure I rent. If it’s not available (common occurrence, sadly) I buy cheaply if it still sounds appealing, or forget about it.
     
  15. Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess

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    Ah, Sell Sword, that's what I like to hear!

    To satisfy my curiosity (and, purely as a side benefit, to keep this thread on topic), what made you pick up the book in the first place?
     
  16. Jack

    Jack Hyperpower!

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    As I've mentioned in the Reading-In-June thread, the ultimate rule of thumb for whether a book will be worth reading is the Neil Gaiman Model. If Gaiman says its good, then it must be good. His review for Gene Wolfe's The Knight made me laugh out loud and get the book immediately. I was not dissappointed. I don't have the book with me, but it was something along the lines of "if you don't read this book, all of the cool people will make fun of you."

    My primary method, before coming to this board, of finding other authors was to, say, grab a book I loved, like American Gods , and see who commented on it in the back. Based on their comments, I check out what they've written. The cycle continues ad infinitum. And this is a darn good method. I've found good books in all genres doing this.

    Having said that, nothing beats good detailed reccs from this board. The next issue is, having a stack of books, what book do I choose to read? Well, having read all the aforementioned detailed reccs, and the quotes on the back, and maybe a bit of the blurb (I find blurbs sometimes give away too much of the story, so I avoid them, except maybe the first sentence or two just to make sure the book isn't a total cheese fest or something), I have all the tools I need to decide which book to read first!

    Actually, I just stare at my to-read pile while watching Wheel of Fortune and drooling in a bucket. :D
     
  17. Sell Sword

    Sell Sword Mayor of Otisburg

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    I usually peruse the forthcoming titles in the Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror Genres on various web sites. And being the voracious reader that I am, I foolishly delude myself into thinking that I can read everything! :rolleyes:
     
  18. Duanawitch

    Duanawitch Tea + Swords = Happiness

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    This used to be my big issue...so many books in the pile..which next. Now my books-to-read pile is so big (200+ bought at present :eek:) I have to maintain strict regimental order or else somethings would never get read. So now I try to read in the order I buy in...but the system doesn't always hold out against enticing newly published yummies. Like the next GRRM...queue-jumping is inevitable. :D
     
  19. MrMoonshineMan

    MrMoonshineMan Physics Nerd

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    the title usually catches my eye, then i read the inside cover synopsis. if it sounds like there is some seemingly insurmountable problem in the story, then it'll either be really terrible, or pretty good. if its good, i type that title into google and find a "if you liked_..." page, and read others.

    i have a few used book stores around me that have deep, dark recesses of books i've never seen. good times on a slow sunday checking them out. i rarely buy books online unless i can't find them within a few hours of my house.
     
  20. Davis Ashura

    Davis Ashura Would be writer? Sure.

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    So, it seems the least used means to judge a book's worth is the cover art. So why do publishers insist on inflicting us with those cartoonish, buffoonish covers? Especially those Darrell Sweet monstrosities?