Monday, March 22, 2021

How I pick books to read

ebook with cat coffee and donuts

Here's the thing. We all have tropes, characters, etc., we prefer to read about and things we don't. I'm not sure how others go about picking books to read based on their tastes, but this is what I do.

For the most part, over the years, I know what I like and don't like to read. I've probably talked about some of it on here a time or two. I haven't exactly made a list over the years, but I keep a little mental checklist in my mind as I look at a book. Of course, I make exceptions if it's an author I trust and love.

What do I do? Well, I run through a quick check in my brain, and it's a quick process. This does not apply to favorite authors I auto-buy and will read pretty much anything they write, even things I consider my no-no's.

Reading glasses with book

For starters, I look at the cover. Does it represent the kind of book I like to read? Yes, I admit I'm a sucker for a good cover, but more importantly, in romance, a cover represents the sub-genre the book is written in and is a good indication of the kind of book I'm getting with certain exceptions.

For example, a smutty book will invariably have a naked man-chest on the cover. Paranormal might have a woman or girl on the cover with some kind of fancy magic-looking thing coming out of her hands or behind her, or if it's a shifter romance, perhaps a werewolf or bear or whatever shifter animal might be involved. Sci-fi romance might have a spaceship or an alien-looking creature on the cover. Menage might have a cover with a woman and two men on it. These are all indicative of the broad genre of book you are getting.

If the cover interests me enough, and I've learned not to judge a book by its cover, then I look at the book title. There are certain keywords in titles I avoid because they are likely to represent themes I do not wish to read about. For me, they are words like lies, liar, and secret, to name a few. Anything that might have a negative connotation to something I do not like or even a trope I do not enjoy.

For example, there's a book called King of Lies by Whitney G. Gorgeous cover, but the book title doesn't excite me. Or if the book title contains "Beauty and the ...". I'm not a fan of Beauty and the Beast fairy tale retellings, so even with a great cover, I tend to avoid those.

King of Lies by Whitney G

That said, if I'm intrigued, I'd next move on to read the blurb. If the blurb intrigues me enough, I'll perhaps give the book a shot, even if the book title doesn't captivate me. Reading the blurb is very important because it will give you an idea of what the book is about. Some of my friends refuse to read a book and prefer to know nothing about a book before they start reading as they consider a blurb to be spoilery. I like reading the blurb because it helps me identify the major themes of the book, the trope, and any other hidden things that I might somehow not enjoy.

A blurb is also very important when it comes to trigger warnings. Some people might be sensitive to certain themes, and a trigger warning will inform them of any themes that they might find disturbing or cause a negative reaction. Take, for example, a book where the hero cheats on the heroine. Some people might consider that a trigger because they have been cheated on before, and they do not want to read such themes in a book because it will have a negative impact on their well-being by bringing up unpleasant past memories. Trigger warnings are important but straddle the line between necessary and being spoilery. A spoiler is something that will ruin the reading experience for you by revealing something important in the plot or the character development. A trigger warning is exactly what it says it is. Something to warn you if reading a particular topic will trigger you. If a person has been a victim of abuse, they certainly might not want to read about abuse and relive bad past experiences.

When I read a blurb, I will personally lookout for words that might cause me not to want to read a book. Not necessarily trigger warnings since aside from cheating and other woman drama, some psychological torture, or horror, I don't have many triggers. But I'm sensitive to things like lying, deception, keeping secrets, heroines who run away, reluctant heroines (lord save me from reluctant heroines!!), revenge, torture, enemies, anything that claims to be too dark, so I avoid books about those things. There was a book I was interested in reading, and right there, in the blurb, it said the heroine ran away. Uh no, I don't think I want to read that.

Hands holding book

I also look for things that I will read. Like fake engagements, office romances, nanny romances, daddy romances, mountain men, secret agents, and a whole host of other things. This is a very long list.

As I mentioned before, I do make exceptions. I've read Skye Warren's Beauty and the Professor, a Beauty, and the Beast retelling. I enjoyed it a great deal, and I liked the way Ms Warren handled the fairy tale retelling. And of course, my favorite example of a second chance romance, a trope I'm not overly fond of, which is beautifully written, is Nalini Singh's Rock Redemption and Rock Wedding. In my eyes and experience, Ms Singh can do no wrong.

   Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh Beauty and the Professor by Skye Warren

All of this happens in the blink of an eye. It's a quick process of acceptance or elimination. It also helps me make an informed decision about the book I'm about to read so that I know I will more likely enjoy the book. There are still some duds along the way because different people like different things, and I get recommended books that sound good at the outset but don't work out for me. There are plenty of those too, but fortunately, those are fewer than what I enjoy reading. You can find out all about those in my Books I Did Not Finish reviews.

How about you? Do you have a process or a mental checklist you go through when you are deciding on whether you will read a book or not? Tell me. I'd like to know.

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  1. A very good post

    For me there are authors that are must reads for me and I can't see that changing and I also read through recommendations if a review sounds fabulous and I love the blurb then I am very happy to read the book and I am lucky enough to get books from publishers and authors for review and this gives me the chance to add more authors to my must have list :)

    Have Fun


    1. You are fortunate indeed to have so many choices of fabulous books to read.