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Judging Books by their Spines (and Contest!)

Someone recently asked me how I come across the books I read. Over the past few months, as I've been a bit of a lurker in the blogosphere, I've gotten books from reading other people's reviews and recommendations. Sometimes this resulted in me getting books that really, really didn't work for me, and sometimes this resulted in me walking the dog while shoving my face in a book (which then resulted in me walking into a couple of cars. Moving cars.)

In general, reading others' reviews works pretty well for me in terms of finding decent books. I'm the kind of YA reader who's not so much a fan of, say, Sarah Dessen or "Pretty Little Liars" (was that what it was called?), but the darker breed of fiction that makes me cry. If a book can bring tears to my eyes, I love it.

Does this make me a masochist?

When I read others' reviews, I can usually tell if it's the kind of YA I don't like so much (though on occasion I'm willing to try, if the review was really positive) or the kind I really-really-really like. This still isn't completely successful, because for some reason, the owners of practically every blog I follow like the other type. Oh, and to clarify - when I say other type, I'm not referring to, like, chick lit only, and I realize there are loads of other types, but for simplicity I'm just using these two. I've read a ton great reviews for books I disliked, and some less-than-great reviews for books I shoved in all my friends' faces.

Because of this, I wonder if basing books on other people's positive reviews has the same rate of book-success as how I used to get my books - turning my head at that awkward angle to read the spines, systematically moving from shelf to shelf in an effort to find an attractive spine with an attractive title, taking one out, putting it back, taking another, putting it back, muttering under my breath about why there are only about thirty-two different YA books in my library but six hundred copies of Twilight there, getting crazy looks from people around me, finally finding a decent book, reading the (always very positive) back cover, sticking it in my horrifyingly garish orange bag (it was free, okay? you don't turn down free things), and starting all over again.

It's a tiring process, but I'm not sure if it's more successful than getting books that had positive reviews. The main selection point when I'm at library is the back cover, with its reviews and blurb thingie. I know what the title of the post is, but the spines don't matter so much, because there really are very few YA books and I've read most of them. And that was after I conquered all the non-erotic books of the adult section (although I must say, some erotic books really look a lot like normal books, and then my eleven-year-old self was in for a shock). In any case, if a blurb sounds interesting and the reviews look good, I'll get it.

Similarly, if a review makes a book sounds interesting, and it's positive, I'll get that.

What about you? How do you choose your books? What's more effective - basing on review or basing on browsing?


And for the contest! I'm entering this one: Go and check it out :)


Wen Baragrey said...

Hi Izzy! Well, what makes me buy a book (oh how embarrassing) is usually the cover. I always figure, if the publishers took the time and expense to give it a spectacular cover, then they must think it's a good story. See? There's logic in there somewhere. I've ended up with some right tomatoes that way, I admit, but I guess it's as good as any method really. Truth is, you ain't gonna know til you read it, really!

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