When walking down the aisles of a library or bookstore or looking at books online, what traits does a book need to pique your interest?  With millions of books to choose from, I thought we could explore the possibilities of what gets us to pick up a book and want to read it.

Cover

We all know the cliché, but we often judge a book by its cover design.  Does it grab you?  Does it intrigue you?  Are there elements on the cover that make you curious about the story?  Does the 30% off sticker on the cover at Target get your attention?

If the cover is linked to the book’s film or TV adaptation, does that make you want to read it more or less?  

Do faces or images draw you in?

Author

An established author’s name on a book’s cover, like the name of an A-list star on a movie poster, can make many readers more interested in reading than an unknown author.  Do you gravitate toward a known author like Stephen King or James Patterson, or do you prefer to read books by new authors?

From my own experience, I often gravitate to familiar authors because I know their style and know there will be some aspect of the story I will enjoy just from their past books.

At the same time, readers can become so used to an author’s formula that they stray away from their works and seek other authors with a similar vibe to their writing.  This is how I discovered Ronald Malfi’s books this summer when I wanted to read a horror novel other than Stephen King’s.

Back of the Book

You saw the cover, picked up the book, and flipped it over.  In that brief series of paragraphs, was there something that hooked you and made you want to read more?  How are the story and its characters presented in a basic form that makes you want to dig deeper?

Is this something you look at, or do you overlook this and trust your gut that the book will be good based on other factors?

Genre

“I’ll read anything that’s romance,” “If it’s fantasy, I’m in.”  Are you more of a genre loyalist than a person married to a specific author’s work?  Do you love to read anything and everything in a particular genre and weed out the great from the mediocre?  

If you stick to one genre, do you notice what authors handle tropes and cliches better than others or authors that rise above these genre traits?

Topic

This is more toward non-fiction books.  Do you have specific topics you lean toward, either history or current events?  Are you interested in biographies, autobiographies, and the myriad of personalities they cover?

Do you tend to look for books on topics where you know you’ll agree with the author’s point of view or oppose their viewpoints?

Reviews/Media

If an author or their book is on every morning show or late-night talk show, does that make you want to read the book more?  Does their presence on the small screen make their books better than others?  

What about reviews?  I’ve seen one-star reviews for books I love and five-star reviews for books I wasn’t impressed by.  Do you use the objectivity of others to influence what you choose to read, or do you read what you want?  

Word of Mouth

Have you read a book based on the recommendation of a friend or family member?  Have you felt the unneeded pressure to like the book because a friend loved it so much? 

Final Thoughts

Like movies, TV shows, and video games, everyone has personal preferences regarding what books they choose to spend their free time reading.  How we choose those books and the criteria we use brings us to that moment of opening a new book that makes the activity all the more enjoyable.

So, how do you pick a book to read?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Happy Reading, and I’ll see you next time!

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