Jun 18, 2012

Deciding What to Read

We all know that in order to be a good writer, we have to be good readers.  I had an epiphany recently that I was reading primarily one genre and writing another, and while that is okay, I needed to incorporate more of the genre I'm writing - women's lit.  So I glanced through some books on my to read list, looked through some of the best sellers and grabbed a few sparse choices from my local library.  I even played at this really fun website - What Should I Read Next - which aligns books of similarity for choices.  Not sure it's perfect, yet, but I think it's a fun idea.

But this got me thinking about the connection of what we read to what we write.  I have both teens and adults in my WIP, so I really think reading YA is of benefit to me, and I teach teenagers who I just want to read period.  But I began to be worried that my adult characters, one who is the MC, were sounding too young.

I have read highly recommended books that I just can't get why people enjoy (Moby Dick), books that are just to be brain candy but really impress me, non-fiction that intrigues me, etc.

So, here's my question for you - why do you read what you read.  I know many buy books to support bloggers, etc. and I LOVE that about this community, but say you just got $50 to spend on books - do you go off of stars on seller sites or goodreads?  Friend's opinions?  Pretty covers?

What determines what you read?  Do you have any suggestions of more grown-up lit that I just have to read?  What was the last book that you read that is still sticking with you?

20 comments :

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I admit being attracted to pretty covers, but since I now buy mostly on my Kindle, the cover loses some ground as a motivation.

I read the synopsis for the book, and I might scan the reviews, just to see what else I can glean about the content. I'm less concerned about the reader's rating than getting a feel for whether I would like the book or not.

elizabeth seckman said...

I never finished Moby Dick. So glad someone else didn't see the merits...thought it was just me.

Biggest factor in choosing a book? A recommendation by a friend.

David P. King said...

The Graveyard Book. Just finished it and it was fab! I daresay it's one of the better ghost stories I've read in years, and ghosts are my thing. :)

Cassie Mae said...

Oh I always go to my favorite authors sites and see what they like to read, lol. That and if there's a hot guy on the cover ;)

Suzie F. said...

Just finished Perks of Being a Wallflower and loved it. The only adult fiction I've read in the last few months was The Night Circus and I really enjoyed it.

I'd say friend recommendations and reading the book jacket are usually how I choose what to read next.

Brent Wescott said...

Just finishing 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Definitely surreal and beautiful.

I read books all the time on a whim: it just looks neato. But I also rely on recommendations. If someone I know has read it, I'll read it.

Catherine Noble said...

If it's a self-published book, I'll consider it by a) the synopsis, b) the opening extract (to see how well the words flow) then c) the reviews. I admit I usually give the negative reviews more weight, as the 5 star reviews can sometimes sound a bit biased or copy & pasted (although I can tell a jealous 1 star review when I see one!).

If it's a traditionally published book, I get my inspiration from Podcasts, where there are discussions about said books and even interviews with the authors. Radio 4 shows such as "A Good Read" and "The Book Club", or the Richard & Judy Book Club podcast are excellent for this. :)

S.P. Bowers said...

I read work from friends and recomendations I see. You get to know people and can tell if your tastes align. But as to spending money-other than buying books to support blogger friends, I like to read the book first. I have a list of books I borrowed from someone or checked out of the library and now want to buy. So, if I had that $50. I'd probably go off that list.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm at the very end of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and it is sticking with me - can't wait to see the movie.
Why do I read what I read? Good story, intrigue, characters, and the chance to escape.

Emily R. King said...

Right now I'm trying to read as many books in my genre as possible because I want to be armed and ready when I start querying. I'm still looking for one or two good comparison novels. Man, is finding one a lot of work.

Lynn Proctor said...

i am having some trouble reading fiction right now--i think i might look for some biographies :)

Andrew Leon said...

See, I loved Moby Dick. To this day, it's the only book I've taken the time to highlight passages in and make notes and things. It certainly takes a more serious type of reader, but, if you're willing to submerge yourself in it, it's certainly worth the time.

That being said, I find at this point in my life I have very little patience for books that end up being just fluff. Fluff if fine as long as the author takes the time to -say- something, too. I love the Dresden novels which, in many ways, are just pulp fiction, but Butcher takes the time to convey meaning in what's happening, too, so I like them.

As far as choosing books go, I tend to have 4 things that sway me:
1. It's an author I already like.
2. It's been recommended to me by someone whose opinion I trust.
3. It's an independent author I'm trying to support.
4. So many people are talking about the book that I decide to look into it (which doesn't mean that I'll read it (looking into Hunger Games decided me completely against reading it)).

Jessie Humphries said...

Right now I am trying to read things in my genre so that I can see what they do well and implement in my writing.

deathwriter said...

For me, it's all about what's for sale at the library book shelf. I go every week and peruse mostly the non-fiction area. I look at it as sort of a serendipitous activity. I always buy one book, so I look them over, I read a couple of pages and if they've hooked me, I take it. I got really lucky in the last few weeks and landed "The Last Lecture" and "The Bell Jar." If I had more money, I'd do the same at a book store. I like at least one new book a week.

J. A. Bennett said...

I like to read YA becasue it's clean and mostly full adventure and first loves. In return, that's what I like to write. If you need adult romance selections I highly recommend Change of Heart by Roseanne Wilkins. It's LDS, but it is wonderful!

Shallee said...

If I hear good things about a book from multiple people I trust, that jumps to the top of my TBR pile. Or if a premise of a book really hits me, I may jump on that one next.

Recently I read Code Name Verity, which was AMAZING. The most incredible characters, and an emotional journey that is still sticking with me.

Coleen Patrick said...

My son has to read Moby Dick this summer. He's not looking forward to it. :)
Last fiction book that I read that stays with me--The Fault in our Stars and Non fiction--Quiet: The Power of Introverts.

Juliana L. Brandt said...

Almost all of the books I read are suggestions from friends, or something I've read on a blog.

A more 'grown-up' book I read lately and absolutely loved is the Nadia Stafford series. They're awesome!

Nicole said...

I read pretty much anything in the fantasy genre! I usually go in streaks for books that have similar tones, etc to whatever WIP I'm working on.

Tara Tyler said...

i hear about a good story, i look at covers and genre and authors. those are my book buying drivers =)

always get pointers from reading a good book!