Monday, June 22, 2020

Choosing My Next 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?

It's Brenda Chapman kicking off this week's blog posts.

I employ several strategies for selecting a book to read. 

The first and perhaps most powerful filter is word of mouth. I belong to a bookclub and often receive recommendations from my friends' wide reading lists. Sometimes we exchange books and this might lead me to buy other books by the same author. This only works if we all buy books to trade and happily all my friends are big book buyers too.

The leads to another prime way I select a book -- an author I've read before and liked.  I have a large and growing number of authors whose books I seek out, especially in the crime fiction genre. I've read several series by the following authors: Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, Denise Mina, Adrian McKinty, Giles Blunt, Elizabeth George, Val McDermid, Stuart Pawson, Ann Cleeves, Louise Penny, Harlan Coben, Liza Marklund  Stuart MacBride, Linwood Barclay ... and several more too numerous to mention. The point is that I often buy a book based on the author's work once I've sampled and enjoyed one book in their library.

I'll also try a new author and the selection can be more whimsical. If I'm in a bookstore, a cover might entice me to pick up the book. I'll read the synopsis on the back cover and the first page to see if the premise and the writing style engage me. If I buy and like the book, I add the author to my my list of go-tos.

Recent pandemic reading purchases

Sometimes, but not as often, I'll read a book because it's won an award. I recently ordered The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides because the books was the readers' crime fiction choice on Goodreads last year. I enjoyed the read, which I see is soon being made into a movie.

I've picked up quite a few books at book conferences and events over the years. Many times I've listened to an author on a panel and gone on to buy their book, sometimes from the conference bookseller or when I return home (suitcases can get heavy). Other times, I've met an author whom I've enjoyed chatting to and buy their book as a result.

I met Ann Cleeves at Left Coast Crime and have been reading her books ever since!

I've been fortunate that as I was starting to be published, I was welcomed into the Ottawa/Eastern Ontario crime-writing community, which was burgeoning fifteen years ago. We support each other at events, on blogs, at launches ... and by purchasing each other's latest book. Some are in the cozy category - Mary Jane Maffini, Linda Wiken, Vicki Delaney and others are grittier - Rick Mofina, Barbara Fradkin, Robin Harlick, Jim Napier, Kathy Prairie, Michael McCann, Mike Martin, Madonna Skaff. It's been great fun following along on the writing journeys of all of these people I know and like immensely.

At a book event with Linda Wiken and Mary Jane Maffini

And last but not least by a long shot, I'm starting to read books by the authors on 7 Criminal Minds blogspot with the goal to sample everyone's work in the not too distant future. I've currently got Abir's Smoke and Ashes and James' Turn to Stone on my laptop. I'm keen to read everyone's work now that I know them through their blog posts!

We're indeed fortunate to have such a wealth and variety of books to choose from, no matter how the final decision is made. When all is said and done, there aren't enough hours in the day to read as widely and as often as I'd like, but that won't stop me from giving it the old college try.


Cathy Ace said...

Reading Flesh House at the moment. :-) LOVE his books...working my way through them (though have to admit I have already read the latest!)

Susan C Shea said...

So many books tempt us and your way of choosing makes complete sense. If you're like me, the TBR shelf far exceeds what could be piled on your bedside table and the real issue is will I read every book I'd like to in the course of my lifetime!

Brenda Chapman said...

Cathy - I have Flesh House in my reading pile! Some of his writing is gritty-tough but balanced by the humour. Susan - I'm like you, too many books and not enough time to read them all!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

That's so true, Brenda; there's such a wealth and variety of books to choose from, and that's such a good thing.

James Williams said...

Thank u for sharing..