How Do You Choose Your Books?

I am listening to David Ramirez and browsing online through Barnes & Noble’s Bargain book section, because I’m cool like that. Every now and then I take a detour from my store browsing to spend a few hours looking online for some reads that are usually hidden away under the bargain sticker. But shopping from the bargain section is risky. On my birthday, I ordered two fiction books and two memoirs. The first fiction book was awesome, the second I put down after dragging my eyes through the first five pages. I have started the first memoir but I am still working my way through it (not s good sign). But I do see a few tonight that seem to be interesting, like Shine Shine Shine, A Bartender’s Tale, Blame, and The Golden Hour, have you read any of these?

As I pass by some and click on others, I wonder to myself: what is it that people look for in their books? What determines my picking and choosing? Shallowly, before I look at the book’s description, it’s the cover that I notice first. Usually it’s the cover that makes me click it to see what it’s about. Perhaps we could insert the whole “Don’t judge a book by its cover” thing, but on the other hand I think marketing strategy- design a cover that attracts attention. But way beyond the cover, how I ultimately choose my books is based on what it is I am looking for in that book. According to my cart, most of the novels I pick are essentially about being human. They all have universal themes of struggle and relationships of all kinds. I guess that makes sense why I enjoy memoirs and nonfiction so much, because I like to read about the real journey. I do enjoy other genres of books, but it seems I resort to the stories that take place in boring towns with characters who have normal occupations and are living regular lives- and in the boring lives of these less-glamorous people is where the true picture of humanness is displayed: sickness, relationships, struggles, death, conflict, victory, dreaming, healing, running. And that picture of being human is what I feel connected to.

Then my second thought as I look at the books in my ‘cart’ is, how many people purchase their books online versus in a bookstore? I have spilt opinions on this subject, as I assume many readers do. I recently just purchased The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows at retail price in Barnes and Noble. I did have a 20% off coupon plus my membership, but if I really wanted to save $3 I could have ordered it online and waited 4-5 days for it to be delivered. It was a tough decision, and I did the awful awful thing of finding the book in the store and then automatically checking online to see how much cheaper it was. If I’m not in a hurry to read the book, I’ll order it online and casually wait for it to arrive. But when I really want to read the book, I feel this call of duty to honour the bookstore by paying the extra couple bucks and purchase it there. I feel like I have to protect the stores, FIGHT FOR THEM to stay alive, to keep their doors open, so they can keep offering this lovely building I go to so often to see and touch and skim and smell- (yes), and dream about what book to read. I don’t want the bookstores to close. I know it’s cheaper online. I know I know I 1000 times know, BUT, but…. the bookstores, such precious places, right? I do not want to use them solely as a show room. So I do a dance back and forth with purchasing online and in the store. I don’t want to live in an online world where I rely completely on this distant place that further enables me to live off the cuff of convenience. This post was not meant to be a #supportthebookstores discussion, but sometimes thoughts go that way, and anyhow, I still need that place where I  can sit down and drink a extra hot latte while skimming through seven books.

Main thoughts of the night: 1) What do you look for in a book? and 2) Where do you buy your books? 

Looking for you again by Matthew Perryman Jones just came on Spotify, I loved it.

Back to browsing!

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2 comments

  1. It’s not the cover, but the voice that makes me want to read a book. I rarely read fiction.

    I buy used books on-line for myself, but buy gift books at local bookstores. My husband regularly swaps bags of books with a Mom and Pop shop.

    I use the library too, for the ambiance.

    1. I love that you said that, the voice is definitely one of the main factors that determine whether I keep reading a book or not. For example, I bought a book online in the bargain section, I started reading it the other night and my gosh the voice was so annoying and unappealing to me. It felt like there was no depth, and even if it was believable, it would not be a voice I would want to be hearing all day, so I closed the book. I have recently moved to a new city and have not been to the library yet, but I am taking this as another reminder that I need to go.

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