I’ve loved books since I can remember. One of my first memories ever was the day the bookmobile parked across the street in front of our house (we lived across the street from the elementary school). From that day, I waited eagerly for its next visit the same way I counted the months until the State Fair. There, I discovered worlds that waited for me, friends to meet and stories to share. I loved it even more than the skating rink at the end of the block.
While I never thought of myself as nerdy, I am one of those rare creatures that loves school. I’d be in school today if I could. There’s always so much more to learn. Another book to read. But alas, life intrudes and we have to apportion our time accordingly. I work full time and am Mom to five offspring and Grandma to one perfectly lovely granddaughter. My twenty-four-hour days are very full.
Add to that the fact that I’m a publicist. I promote authors and their books for a living. Of course it’s imperative to keep abreast of the industry in which I work so I read books. Lots and lots of books. My clients’ books. Other authors’ books. All kinds of books.
I’m sure your lives are comparable. Everyone is so busy these days, leisure time is hard to come by. So when we finally carve out a few minutes that we can indulge in a new book just for the pleasure of reading it, how in the world do we choose which one to read next in the midst of so many?
Back in the days when I did book reviews as a freelance writer, I operated by the common 100 page rule. If it hadn’t grabbed me in the first 100 pages, I quit reading. Maybe I missed something that was just slow starting but I didn’t want to invest another 200 or so pages to find out. As time went on, my rule shrank to 75 pages, then 50.
Today, when I pick up a book to read it for no reason other than I just want to, there are a few things I consider:
- Who wrote it. If Robert Crais wrote it, I will read it. If it’s another author I’ve read before and enjoyed, I’ll consider it.
- Book description. Hopefully there is a description that is concise and engaging. If it looks like the type of storyline I enjoy or otherwise intrigues me, I’ll give it a chance.
- Reviews and blurbs. Honestly, I’ve never bought or read a book solely on the basis of a review. However, if the reviews or blurbs give actual information as opposed to “this is great” hype, or if there’s a thoughtful mention by someone I recognize and respect, I’ll probably give it a look.
- Author info. I’ve chosen to read several books over the years based more on what I learned about the author than the typical book information. If an author demonstrates writing skill (even in making sure his/her website is typo free) and presents a professional and interesting bio, I’m easily persuaded to look further and find out what he/she has to say. On the other hand, if the online persona says little about the person, is all about the books, and seems otherwise amateurish, I won’t bother.
- Ambiance. It’s a no brainer, but if I’m captured by the opening sentence and the scenario set forth on the first page makes me want to keep reading, I’m in. It’s like a positive first impression. If that opening is great, even if interest wanes in subsequent pages, I’ll keep reading for a while, believing it will come back to the place where it began. But if it starts bad, even if it gets better, I’ll exhibit less tolerance if there’s a lot of back and forth.
How about you? I know your time is as fleeting as mine. How do you decide when to put it down and when to keep reading?
In 1998, PJ Nunn founded BreakThrough Promotions (breakthroughpromotions.net), now a national public relations firm helping authors, mostly of mystery novels, publicize themselves and their work. The business is thriving and PJ is also the author of Angel Killer: a Shari Markam Mystery and Private Spies: a Jesse Morgan Mystery. PJ lives in Waxahachie TX near Dallas. Learn more at http://breakthroughpromotions.net
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