Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Bring out your read

How do you decide what to read? Word of mouth? Reviews? Browsing in bookstores? Etc. And what’s the most important factor in your decision?

by Dietrich

All of those ways work for me: word of mouth, reviews and browsing the bookstores. When I find an author’s work that engages me, then I check for a backlist. And I keep them in mind for future works. I have a growing list of favorite authors, and I always look forward to what they’ve got coming next. Authors like Don Winslow, George Pelecanos, James Ellroy and James Lee Burke top my list. And there are those authors who aren’t around anymore, and I’m still going through and catching up with their backlists, authors like Donald E. Westlake, Robert B. Parker and George V. Higgins. And there are some authors who I like to reread, like James Crumley, Charles Willeford, and Elmore Leonard.
Sometimes a friend recommends a book because they know the type of book I like. And I also like to stop in at one of my favorite indie bookstores, pick up something that catches my eye and read the first few pages. Often I can pick a winner from the first few paragraphs. If the author’s voice works for me, then that usually does the trick. We’re lucky to have some great indie bookstores in Vancouver, and the folks behind the counters often make some great recommendations too. Most libraries have a ‘librarians picks’ section, and I often browse titles that I might otherwise pass up. Best-seller lists and award winning-books can also get my attention. I also like to listen to author's read their work at events like a Noir at the Bar, book launches and writers festivals.

There are reviewers and bloggers whose opinions I respect. Col’s Criminal Library on the net is a good source. Colman Keane’s tastes run much in the same direction as my own, so when he gives a book four or five stars, I take his word for it. Of course, there are the daily newspapers that feature book reviews, and sites like Goodreads, LibraryThing, Bookish, Kirkus, Book Riot, to name a few. And there are blog sites like this one, and my fellow criminal minds often recommend (as well as write) some great books.

I can also be swayed by a blurb on the back of a book jacket, although, let’s face it, no publisher’s going to put a bad review or blurb on the back cover.

Titles and cover designs often catch my eye. And that can get me picking a book off the shelf too. Of course, from there it’s up to the opening pages.


Paul D. Marks said...

Dietrich, one of the joys of discovering an author who's been around for a while is having a backlist to go back to. If you find a new author and you have to wait a year or so for every new book, or as in the case of Ellroy, what, six years or something, it's very frustrating. So I love finding people who've been around but I somehow missed and then I can just gorge on their backlist till I've read it all and then, if they're still around and writing, going back to that one year wait.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Paul. Yes, sometimes it's hard waiting for the next book from a favorite author, especially if it's part of a series. And thank goodness for the backlist.

Brenda Chapman said...

I agree about finding an author you like with a good backlist - heaven! Dietrich, I'm always impressed by your reading list and reviews on Goodreads.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Brenda.