Wednesday, 23 April 2008

What to read, and why?

I don't belong to a book club, so don't have the pressure to read anything beyond what takes my fancy. But it did lead me to an interesting point. Why do you read books, and what makes you choose a particular book? Author? Reviews? Cover? Blurb on the back? Celebrity endorsement? It's written by Jordan? There's a couple of books I've picked off the shelves completely at random, then ended up ABSOLUTELY loving. The three that spring to mind are:

1. Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. I liked the cover, read the blurb and needed to buy a birthday present (at least 75% of all presents I buy are books). Probably my favourite book from last year.
2. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. The first one was going for 99p. That's why I picked it up. Then I bought the rest (full price) because they're bloody brilliant.
3. One of the Eagle series by Simon Scarrow. Celebrity endorsement in this case (no, not by Jordan), but by Bernard Cornwell. There's a quote of his on the front cover. Also it's about Roman legionnaires, which I love.

12 comments:

Jon M said...

I go for authors, if I like an author then I will read everything by them. Recommendation of friends too helps. Covers don't always work for me. Not celebrity endorsement. I can't buy something at random because I hate reading something and being disappointed, I've got to know I will enjoy it!And then there are the titles one's agent mentions...

Tracy said...

Hellooo - just wondering if this will work.

Tracy said...

I've worked out what I was doing wrong so here I am. It's taken a while.
I think I'm going to have to read Mortal Engines, keep hearing good things but never got round to reading it.
Might have to check out Book of Lost Things too.
I tend to buy books based on Guardian reviews, word of mouth, Lovereading website, or if it piques my interest in a bookshop, so that may be a cover but always if the blurb is interesting. Oh, and if the first page grabs me, either the narrative or the writing style. Great if it has both, obviously.

SarwatC said...

Hiya Tracy,
Glad you're onboard! If you like Book of Lost Things (which you will, 'cause it's awesomely awesome) try Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber, and the film 'The Company of Wolves'. I've been sent Black Juice by Margo Lanagan that appears in the same sort of vein, and I'll start that tonight, bacause the book I'm menat to be reading is VERY BORING.

Tracy said...

Hi Sarwat
Glad to be onboard.
I've purchased Book of Lost things and the first Mortal Engines.
I'm currently reading The Book Thief, beautifully written but not a real attention grabber for me. It's more of a read in sections and come back to it.
'Company of Wolves' I've seen a few times but I've never read any of Angela Carter's books.
I am a fan of fantasy, horror, surreal, quirky kind of stuff - books and film.
I'll wait to hear if you recommend this Black Juice although I may go and see what I can find out about it.
Why does my book pile grow quicker than it shrinks!!

Candy Gourlay said...

yes, i go for authors too. especially if i meet them or enjoy a workshop or talk that they were in.

i'm afraid i'm a sucker for good covers. i really went for un lun dun because of the cover.

and then if i happen to glance over a first page and can't put it down, i;'ll be reaching for my wallet!

good blog, sarwat! nice to see you the other night!

Jon M said...

My son LISTENED to Mortal Engines, speculatively borrowed as an audio book from the library. Loved it and bought the others. I MUST read them sometime.
BUT!
I've just ordered these other books from Amazon now. Curse you Sarwat, you'll bankrupt me if you keep recommending!

SarwatC said...

Oh, has anyone seen 'In Bruges'? It's brilliant! The writer/director is from a theatrical background, and the dialogue is diamond bright and razor sharp. Best thing Colin Farrell's ever done. Given me alot to think about, actually. The key aspect is how it humanises killers, and is very funny, in a completelely un-pc way.

Jude said...

Most of my reading currently relates to my job or my MA but if I am on holiday and I know I have time I usually go for something that looks like I'll enjoy it- cover, blurb and couple of pages are what I normally look at. Sometimes if I like a book I'll get another one by the same author. I teach kids who read book after book by the same author!!

SarwatC said...

I'm trying to read a wider range of books, partially as research into the mareket and in an attempt to avoid becoming 'stale'. Just finished How I live Now by Meg Rossoff, which wouldn't normally be on my list. What's interesting is, having looked at my shelf, it's TOTALLY dominated by male writers. Until about 4 months ago, the only female author I had on the shelves was Rowlings, and of course she writes a male lead. Since then I've been given a few more books by women, mainly because I'm writing a female lead, and it was thought useful to see how others do it. Now I've got Jonathan Strange, Tithe, City of Bones, and Eclipse to get through. Part of me feels best I NOT read too much of these writers, one needs to understand the conventions of the genre, but not be trapped by them.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Try Jasper Fforde's books. They mix up literary fiction, fantasy and nursery rhymes in a parallel universe where what we regard as fiction is real. It's amazing stuff. There are two series running - the Tuesday Next series (starting with 'The Eyre Affair') and the Nursery Crimes series (starting with 'The big over easy' - all about who murdered Humpty Dumpty). It's bizarre, brilliant and utterly unique. A few years ago, people were urging me to try Terry Pratchett. I did, but didn't get on with it. Jasper Fforde? Different matter entirely.

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