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  1. #1
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    How do you decide what to read?

    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 What is the primary means by which you decide that a book by a previously unpublished author is worth reading?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. #2
    Ink-stained Wretch Teresa Edgerton's Avatar
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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 by Teresa Edgerton; June 8th, 2005 at 08:21 AM.

  3. #3
    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. #4
    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    Just to look at the last few previously unpublished books I read, and how I found out about them: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 by Ainulindale; June 8th, 2005 at 05:49 AM.

  5. #5
    Registered User Hellsfire's Avatar
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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. #6
    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. #7
    Registered User Hellsfire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ainulindale
    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.
    I maybe a little late in my response but better late than never. Man, I miss high speed. I meant that when I listen to Amazon reviews, I only listen to the ones that are well thoughtout and back up their opinions. I ignore the one or two sentence ones from the haters and fanboys. I think most of the people explain why or at least it balances the star rating.

  8. #8
    Yobmod Yobmod's Avatar
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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 , 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

  9. #9
    I defintely agree with Yobmod, for preferences like mine they are a great resource to quality books. They do a phenominal job.

  10. #10
    Registered User kingma15's Avatar
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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!

  11. #11
    Seven Mary Four Glelas's Avatar
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    Simple, pure mood or what I like to call "phase". I'll go through a fantasy phase where if I even think of Sci-Fi or History or other genres I get sick to my stomach, I have to read fantasy. And in turn even the type of fantasy is based on the phase I am in. Then one day I will wake up and I can't even get myself to open a fantasy book I must read about the history of Rome, then a month later or so I must read Sci-Fi. I can't figure it out, there is no rhyme or reason. Very strange.

  12. #12
    Escapist Papazak's Avatar
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    I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a 3,000 book liabrary. The Best part was that 60% was Scifi 35% was Fantasy and the rest Mystery. I read all the Fantasy my dad had and even his Ron L Hubbard books. My entire family are used bookstore junkies.

    Ive never asked anyone what fantasy books they recommend and this is my first experience with online forums on the subject.

    When I walk into a book store I look at the title and author. If either gains my interest I grab it and check out the cover, yes I judge a book by its cover If Im still interested I read the back. If all three sound/look good I buy it.

  13. #13
    Registered User Kazhan's Avatar
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    When i go to the library, I used to look at covers and the text on the back from random books, but these days I try to find the books other ppl recommend. If I really can't find a good book for weeks, then I mostly buy one, though I consider it twice thanks to some bad books i bought on impuls.

  14. #14
    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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    Consider the source . . . .

    Where I live, it's over an hour's drive to the nearest bookstore, and when I go that far for other purposes, I rarely if ever have the time to stop and browse real, physical volumes. Thus, everything I buy is over the net.

    As a rule, I am more interested in identifying authors to try, rather than particular books; I reckon that if I find I think the author good, I will enjoy most of what he or she writes. Naturally, there is always the risk that the first tale one samples is unrepresentatively poor, but doing some Googling will usually give one a pretty good idea how a given book relates to its author's oeuvre.

    To identify authors of potential interest, I rely on recommendations on the web; the crux, of course, is to first identify recommenders that one feels one can trust. An obvious way to do that is to see how they evaluate works with which one is already familiar. Once one has a few such sources identified (I especially like--in no special order--Jeff VanderMeer's fantasy essentials list, the "Curiosities" articles at The SF Site, The Scriptorium, and the SF&F lists at The Complete Review), one can assemble a first list of possibilities.

    One can then further screen that first list by reviews from any sources available, including Amazon's reader reviews. The trick here,if one may call it a "trick", is to deduce from a given reviewer's copy something about the wit, perceptiveness, and sensibilities of that reviewer. Someone who writes "This wuz the greatest book ever!" on Amazon will not receive a deal of weight in the summing up.

    Note that a given reviewer may have value for us even if we do not regularly agree with him or her; the key is whether we can understand that reviewer's criteria, and--as I have put it elsewhere--perceive at what angle they may lie with respect to our own. So long as we can do that, can in effect "translate" their comments, that reviewer is helpful.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by owlcroft View Post
    [...]Note that a given reviewer may have value for us even if we do not regularly agree with him or her; the key is whether we can understand that reviewer's criteria, and--as I have put it elsewhere--perceive at what angle they may lie with respect to our own. So long as we can do that, can in effect "translate" their comments, that reviewer is helpful.
    One of the things I've argued with friends about for years is how to consider reviews. I have two ways of dealing with book/movie reviews:

    1) If the vast majority of critics say it's good, there's a high probability I'll like it. (There are exceptions, of course; fifty pages into Cold Mountain and self-inflicted root canal was looking like a viable hobby). The reverse holds pretty true for me, too: If the vast ... say it's lousy, I'll think it's lousy, too. (And there are exceptions there, too.)

    2) There are reviewers whose tastes come awfully close to mine -- I've just been dipping into Michael Dirda's reviews, and he's eclectic enough that he likes a lot of what I like, including genre fiction. Roger Ebert has long been a favorite movie reviewer, but with him it's a bit different: If he likes it, there's a high probability I will, too; if he dislikes it ... well, that's iffier.

    Randy M.

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