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How do you choose your next book?

(26 Posts)
cakedup Sat 24-Sep-16 20:33:15

Fed up with being disappointed! I try to pick books with awards/best sellers/good star ratings thinking I've got a better chance of enjoying it.

And sometimes it works...Book Thief, Handmaiden Tale, Time Traveller's Wife, We Need To Talk About Kevin - all of those i loved. But not always. For example, picked up While My Eyes Were Closed - couldn't make it past the first 5 pages. Just started Dead Famous by Ben Elton and don't think I can read any more. I really hate that chatty waffle type of writing with stereotypical characters.

I can't afford new books out. Either library or 2nd hand. But just find it hard to find books I like! Anyone else have the same problem?

tobee Sat 24-Sep-16 21:22:48

I used to go by reviews etc but it's let me down a lot lately as a method recently. Books are such a personal thing. Actually, without wanting to sound arse licky, mumsnetters are very useful recommenders of books. I think it's because there are such a lot of them, so very diverse, and very well read. But not just of fashionable books, or "intellectual" books, whatever that means! Then, after a while, you become familiar with those who've helped in the past, etc.

TolpuddleFarterOATB Sat 24-Sep-16 21:28:00

I find reading the book reviews in the weekend newspapers quite helpful when picking a new book.

Also the 50 books in a year threads on here are great for recommendations. As the poster above said, there are a couple of posters whose recommendations always seem to be good so I keep an eye on what they are reading.

ktjb39 Sat 24-Sep-16 21:31:08

I read on my kindle so I usually download a sample of a book before buying and then I get an idea of whether I want to read on.

bumpetybumpbumpbump Sat 24-Sep-16 21:36:06


I read this topic and add loads to my wish list and watch for price drops each day.

If I've enjoyed a book I look at reviews of their other books too and usually read!

WhirlwindHugs Sat 24-Sep-16 21:37:56

I always read the first page, it usually gives me a good idea of style which is in an instant like/hate with the fire of a thousand suns thing for me.

If I'm browsing I like to look through lists of recommended books online. At the moment I'm working through modern classic type books that I hadn't read before and sound interesting/have a good first page. Recent ones I've read for the first time were Swallows and Amazons (with DD) and The Talented Mr Ripley.

My library has a display at the front of books that are new in or the staff recommend and I have picked up some really good things there. One about following ten dollars around the US and books sequels to books I didn't realise had sequels. The librarian at our library is excellent.

VanderlyleGeek Sat 24-Sep-16 22:32:42

I have broad, yet particular, tastes, so I spend a decent amount of time browsing. I too download lots of samples and get books from friends who get my tastes.

Podcasts are another great resource for suggestions. The Librarian Is In, a podcast from the New York Public Library, has had some fantastic ones; one of the host is actually a recommendations librarian for NYPL! I also like Lit Up, The Guardian, Literary Disco, and Slate's Audio Bookclub for inspiration. Even if you don't listen, you can peruse the podcasts' episode descriptions for ideas.

crapfatbanana Sun 25-Sep-16 08:00:56

I listen to Radio 4 podcasts A Good Read and Open Book and if something sounds appealing I look it up.

I have a Goodreads 'to read' list.

I look on here for suggestions, The Guardian book reviews, browse the library and keep note of books and authors I've enjoyed so I can find more by them or something similar by other writers.

I'm in a reading group ( have been for a decade) so at least one book a month I read, is a book group choice, not my choice. I've read loads of great things and loads of things I hated. This month we read Time and Time Again by Ben Elton. It irritated me so much I didn't finish it. I've read thirty odd books this year and only a handful have I really enjoyed.

When I'm picking my next read I try to think about how I feel and what type of read I need, eg more of the same or a total change. Before the summer holiday I read back to back 2 or 3 longish novels about men growing up in the early part of the 20th century in upper middle class Britain, until I was utterly sick of that kind of book. So I went for something completely contrasting after.

I don't pin too much hope or expectation on a book being amazing. I just want it to be interesting and entertaining enough to keep me reading, that way I don't feel too disappointed. I try not to read too many books that have been hyped up as they invariably don't live up to the hype.

cakedup Sun 25-Sep-16 09:55:07

Brilliant suggestions, thank you. I just presumed the books discussed (on here, podcasts etc) would be all new books, but as bump suggests, I can just add them to my wish list until they are cheap enough.

Sadly I think my library is quite limited in the range and number of books, but I never thought to ask the librarian.

I don't have a kindle which I'm sure is very useful for trying books out. I don't think I could ever use a kindle either...I can't process words on a screen as well as in print.

Whirlwind I normally flick through and read bits rather than the first page. I guess I think you can't really judge a book by the first page, having said that, I think that books I've loved have always had great first pages! Authors must be conscious of needing to draw their readers in from the start.

crapfat I took my Ben Elton book out with me on a long journey yesterday, thinking it would be better than nothing. It was so annoying to read and (pmt disclaimer) made me so angry .

I'm definitely going to hang out on these threads a bit more.

SatsukiKusakabe Sun 25-Sep-16 11:56:05

People read a huge range of books on the 50 books threads, I've not been short of a to-read since I joined it, and it is not just contemporary fiction, people read all sorts.

I have a Kindle so get a lot from deals and offers on there, when books are 99p etc. Try out a basic Kindle in a shop and see how you find the screen - I have an older one but find it much different to reading from a backlit screen like a tablet, much more akin to reading print.

Otherwise I like browsing in charity shops and the library - also look at the online catalogue for your library, they often have recommendations and you can search and reserve.

I also look at prize lists and old Guardian reviews.

SatsukiKusakabe Sun 25-Sep-16 11:56:41

P.s I understand Ben Elton rage flowers

PhoenixRisingSlowly Sun 25-Sep-16 19:48:56

I have a kind of order I work through, a lot of the steps have been mentioned above, but anyway:

Loitering round my local Waterstones. I live in a tiny city within walking distance of it, so am always in there and eagerly persure the new table sof books they have set out, and start to get a feel of what's just come out.

Then after I mentally bookmark a few titles I'll look them up on Amazon to see what the genearl consensus is. If it's 3.5 starts or less I sometimes discard the idea at this point, depending on why people don't like it. Sometimes I'll then but them, especially if I have had a leaf through and really like the authors style. I'm afraid I do buy most of my books on Amazon because it is so much cheaper, often £2.81 for a used book and between £3.85 and £6ish for new titles compared to the usual £8.99 or £7.99 that novels seem to be these days.

If I can't afford it right then then I add it to my Amazon saved for later basket so I don't forget.

I have a 'to read' list of books I have bought and really want to read next, the moment I have:
Mothers Who Can't Love - A Healing Guide For Daughters by Susan Forward which is my current read but it's so depressing that I am also reading
Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

Next up I have
The Sex Lives Of English Women by Wendy Jones which I want to start before the MN author Q&A
Exposure by Helen Dunmore
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Last two were a rare time I bought new books in a bookshop but they were buy one get one half price.

I mix up what I'm going to read next so I can change my mind and go with how I feel but I always have a few options to choose from, I read with an open mind and tend to finish books even if I dislike them. And I buy books I have heard about on Radio 4 as one person said, books people in the 50 books thread recommend, books friends recommend.
I also have an audible subscription which I keep threatening to cancel to they will offer me half price for 3 months or something which I have done a few times this year grin
I also buy books on Amazon when they are on offer if it's one I've been meaning to read for a while. And I'm tending to read a mix of new books and classics/rereads of old beloved favourites this year. I haven't had any read duds... yet.

southeastdweller Sun 25-Sep-16 21:26:56

The weekend papers (Times and Observer) are great for recommendations and I love listening to A Good Read (lots of episodes of that are free to download on the BBC website or on the BBC Radio app). The 50 Book threads on here are also a fab resource.

cakedup Mon 26-Sep-16 00:30:57

I'm looking through the 50 Book threads now. There's been a mention of Goodreads...anyone tried this, any good?

SatsukiKusakabe how do you access old Guardian reviews? Good idea about the prize lists, I do tend to enjoy books that have won a prize. I've added Exposure and All the light to my wishlist!

PhoenixRisingSlowly Mon 26-Sep-16 08:43:39

I used to be on GoodReads but I haven't bothered in ages, I prefer to make a physical list in a notebook of what I'm reading. GoodReads is quite good though, there are forums, online book groups and you can rate books you have read, mark them as To Read, Reading or Read. It's a nice site.
Also interested in the old Guardian reviews question. There is probably a section somewhere on their website but it is like a maze...

kateandme Mon 26-Sep-16 18:15:02

love is good
amazon suggestion or people who bought also bought I find can be quite good .so choose a book then scroll to see more like it.
but actually for me nothing ebats going into the library itself and spending a few mins getting what grabs you.
there are lots of book blogs too now.

kateandme Mon 26-Sep-16 18:21:09

kate furnvall
mark billingham
Karin slaughter
simon beckit
lucy diamond
Katherine webb
Rosamunde pilcher
mills and boon for a laugh!!
peter james
carole Matthews
bit of a mix there

Cel982 Tue 27-Sep-16 13:09:21

The free samples on Kindle are brilliant. Even if you don't want to buy a Kindle, you could download the Kindle app for your phone and then make use of the free samples to find things you might enjoy, before paying for a hard copy or seeking it out in the library.

Benedikte2 Tue 27-Sep-16 15:48:33

Try Elly Griffiths' books about a female forensic archaeologist Ruth, I just love the series and can't wait for her next one. Borrowed from library. You don't have to read them in sequence. Author has a great attitude towards women --- main character is strong but full of the usual insecurities, is attractive but not beautiful, rather overweight and has the usual parenting worries etc. Lots of humour and suspense and just good feel reads.

I love to relax with crime novels and have been "following" a lot of really good Scandi novelists. Not awfully keen on Jo Nesbo though he's very popular. Camilla Lackberg is good though has got a bit formulaic. Ann Holt and Karin Fossum are good. And Jussi Adler-Larsen.
French female author Fred Vargas is good. Her style is "different" so not to everyone's taste. Start off with the a inspector whatsisname books as the evangelist ones aren't as good, IMHO.
Good luck

I also enjoy "doing" the charity shops and look out for my favourite authors or if the price is right take a chance on a book that looks interesting and then follow that author.

All the Light We Cannot See is definitely worth a read.

I look at Kindle Daily Deals and Monthly Deals, and also get recommendations on the 50 books threads. Dp keeps an eye out for Guardian reviews of things I might like too.

SatsukiKusakabe Tue 27-Sep-16 20:45:41

I just Google the book title or author with Guardian review and see what comes up! That's if I've seen something I like the look of or been recommended and not sure if it's for me.

One thing I miss about working is I would always manage to zero in on the fellow bookworms and get into swapping. I don't see anyone reading at the school gate, so it's not the same.

whippetwoman Wed 28-Sep-16 11:16:46

I use the 50 Book Challenge thread for recommendations, it's brilliant, and I have read so many good books based on reviews on that thread. I also keep an eye out on Amazon for new books by authors I like and keep track of books I read on Goodreads which is useful because Goodreads then recommends titles based on what you have read/are reading.

My local library service is quite good and I reserve lots of items - sometimes I have to wait a while but it's worth it. My local library also has lots of ebooks which I read too. I love trawling round charity shops buying second hand copies of books. I never buy brand new books unless I really want to treat myself or someone has given me vouchers.

One thing I would agree with is trying out a Kindle. I have a PaperWhite which is brilliant, not like reading a screen and I really would recommend it. You can pick up so many 99p bargains and also use sites like ereaderiq which tracks books and sends you notifications when the price drops. Ultimately I prefer physical books, but the Kindle is great for reading when I can't sleep, or if I want to try something out, or don't want to cart a huge book around. Love it. I am a librarian (not a public librarian) but still love my Kindle!

If you like nature writing, the Wainwright prize shortlist is always really good - and I look at the Costa prize and the Booker too, though they're not everyone's cup of tea smile

Marmite17 Sat 01-Oct-16 15:55:34

Have literally hundreds of books at home which I need to get rid of. I'm slowly filtering them out. I now only use the library. I go by author mostly but also take books out which are not the kind of thing I'd usually read ie thriller/crime. I would urge more people to use public libraries; you can renew and reserve books online.

Marmite17 Sat 01-Oct-16 16:12:11

Libraries are a free service which will die if no one uses it.

SatsukiKusakabe Sat 01-Oct-16 23:36:16

Quite a lot of the replies (and the OP) have mentioned the library, so I think a lot of the people on these boards are the converted, marmite grin

My dh and I both have Kindles, but still use the library regularly, and I take the kids at least once a fortnight, and use the mobile service too.

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