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Old 27th Nov 2007, 7:15   #1
aquablue
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Default How Do You Choose Your Novels?

By author, by storyline, etc?
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Old 27th Nov 2007, 11:14   #2
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Default Re: How Do You Choose Your Novels?

Usually by how I'm feeling after the last one I finished. For example, after finising the gargantuan Quicksilver I shall be looking for something relatively short and sweet.

But then I was eyeing my Primo Levi's which aren't either of those I suspect...

Or I shall spend a blisfull hour or so in Borders agonising on not being able to take the entire shop away with me.

Or, I wake up in the morning needing a new book, and it'll be whichever appeals for that day's commute.

Nope, no method at all!
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Old 27th Nov 2007, 11:54   #3
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Default Re: How Do You Choose Your Novels?

  1. The author. I have authors I like and will read. That's not to say I'll always read them. I used to read King, Herbert, Laymon almost religiously as a teen but I can't really read them now. So I move on, always keeping up to date (if they are still alive) with my favourite authors.
  2. Peer reviews. I trust friends and online recommendations over those of Amazon reviewers. But I don't mean just someone saying something in passing, it's got to be a considered review; knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
  3. Browsing. I like nothing better than to spend an hour or so just wandering from A to Z in Waterstones, Borders, etc. I'll pick up new names, read a bit, and decide.
  4. eBay. I scroll through the Literary Fiction section of eBay looking for book. Sometimes, if it's in good condition, I'll buy something I've never heard of. It has surprising results.
  5. Penguins. I have a bit of a fetish of Penguin Modern Classics and Penguin Classics. Seeing a black or silver cover has me wanting the book before even reading the blurb. I trust Penguin.
  6. Wikipedia. I'll sometimes pick a country and head to Wikipedia. It usually has a section of writers from that country. I'll look into them and if any of their works are available, I'll maybe buy it.
  7. Subject Matter. Appliable only to non-fiction. But if there's a topic I'm interested in reading about, this usually swings it.
  8. Hype. Let's face it, we do it.
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Old 27th Nov 2007, 11:54   #4
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Default Re: How Do You Choose Your Novels?

I make lists, lists and more lists.

Pile the books up on the floor and see which one takes my fancy ....

Or I just read JS's latest review, dig the book out of the pile and get on with it.

Actually, I'm going to break this last habit .... I don't know if JS is getting uncomfortable but I'm beginning to feel like a literary stalker ......
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Old 27th Nov 2007, 12:04   #5
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Default Re: How Do You Choose Your Novels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizzy Siddal View Post
I don't know if JS is getting uncomfortable but I'm beginning to feel like a literary stalker ......
Sorry Lizzy, I'm afraid jim holds that official post until the expiry of his certificate on 31 January 2008. After that, you can apply for the role under the usual competitive tender process.

My own methods would be a subset of Stewart's: author, peer reviews, browsing, hype, not necessarily in that order. Where he has listed Penguins I would just put Publishers: as well as Penguin (Modern Classics really more than Black Classics), there are other publishers where I'll take a chance on a book that I wouldn't have considered otherwise because I trust them, eg Pushkin Press, NYRB Classics.
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Old 27th Nov 2007, 12:14   #6
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Default Re: How Do You Choose Your Novels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self View Post
My own methods would be a subset of Stewart's: author, peer reviews, browsing, hype, not necessarily in that order. Where he has listed Penguins I would just put Publishers: as well as Penguin (Modern Classics really more than Black Classics), there are other publishers where I'll take a chance on a book that I wouldn't have considered otherwise because I trust them, eg Pushkin Press, NYRB Classics.
Much the same for me. And I'm a sucker for a pretty cover.
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Old 28th Nov 2007, 14:39   #7
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Default Re: How Do You Choose Your Novels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self View Post
Sorry Lizzy, I'm afraid jim holds that official post.
True, so back off Lizzy! Although The Poisonwood Bible which I'm currently reading is not a JS recommendation (although you've no doubt read it) so I feel like I'm in unchartered literary territory.
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Old 28th Nov 2007, 14:47   #8
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Default Re: How Do You Choose Your Novels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim
The Poisonwood Bible which I'm currently reading is not a JS recommendation
Yes jim, the Committee will be contacting you shortly with a date and time for your disciplinary hearing. You may bring a colleague.

Quote:
(although you've no doubt read it)
Me or Lizzy? I haven't.
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Old 28th Nov 2007, 15:39   #9
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Default Re: How Do You Choose Your Novels?

If it's books to read from my shelves at home, it will be a choice down to mood and energy levels, and sometimes (quite often best) just a random pick from the shelves of stuff as yet unread.

But if it's choosing new books, I would say definitely
a) the author, like Stewart. I will faithfully stick to certain authors and accrue others on the way as the years pass. Sometimes a favourite will be only because of a single book, but I will head for their pitch on the shop shelves anyway. Some authors I've grown out of. But this is my primary way of picking.

b) Reviews - either Palimp-reviews or reviews in the newspaper by trusty reviewers. A lot of my Good Reads these last few years have mostly come by Palimpsest reviews and other online discussions.

c) Titles and book covers: I'll usually pick something up which has the word "blood" in it to check for unusual vampire stuff; or ""God" if it's non-fiction. But catchy titles are the only other method of sifting through the shelves of bookstores. Though if I've heard the author name just mentioned here, it is stuck in my head enough to snag as my eyes whip past that shelf, and make me go back and have a proper blurb read.

I can think of a few titles I possess where I have succumbed to hype and regretted it usually, but I steer clear of big book displays if I can.
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Old 29th Nov 2007, 1:43   #10
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Default Re: How Do You Choose Your Novels?

I confess to being susceptible to Svengali-like influences. Only now I'm in good hands of the Palimp . I could never be accused of an orderly approach to reading, except once for the Willa Cather catalog. I used to hit the library and just start with the 813s and stand with neck crooked sideways until something good jumped out. This made the TBR stack top heavy with A,B, and C authors and left me dizzy.
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