I recently got a letter from author Jessica Knoll.  I also received one from author Curtis Sittenfield.  No, not real, stamped in an envelope real, but rather a generic email sent via Goodreads.

Dear Waking,

Hope you enjoyed my last book.  I just wrote a new one.

Love,

Best Selling Author

So, here’s the question: do emails such as this work as a marketing tool?  Upon receiving this email, does one get all aflutter and immediately put the tome on their TBR?  Or does the email go directly to the symbolic trashcan?

Which brings us to the next question: How do we choose the books that we read?

I am a hands on sort of girl.  I love trolling around bookstores- the real brick and mortar ones.  I love to walk the aisles, look at the covers, read the blurbs. The blurbs are very important to me- I can usually get a pretty good idea if it’s a book that would interest me, and if it’s the type of book I’m in the mood for. I peruse the staff favorites, the new and notable, the best sellers.  I find most of my new reads in this decidedly old fashioned method.

Another way I find new books is the newer age Amazon.  I punch in a book that I enjoyed, and I scroll down to the section that shows other books similar in style and/or genre.  And then I go back to the blurb method- I read the paragraph summary.  I also check the star rating- I like to see a solid “4”.  While we’re in this paragraph, let’s chat about the recent headline that Amazon reviews should be further reviewed.  How can one trust a review?  I try to use common sense:  too many 5’s is a red flag that something is a plant.  I almost never give out a 5 star review: there are practically no books that I consider perfect.  I am also wary of too many 1’s.  Really?  The book was that bad?  I look for books that have the majority of their reviews somewhere in the middle.  That seems more reasonable.

So, since many of my blog friends are reviewers, you’re thinking:  Does she read reviews.  Yes.  I do read reviews, BUT I am really careful of the reviewer because I don’t like spoilers.  Basically, I want to know if something was good, bad or indifferent- I don’t want to be told the story- I want the story to unfold naturally.  But, I am an avid reader of reviews AFTER I have read a book.  I love to see what someone thought was important, or interesting, or worthless.  I like reviews because I like the discussion aspect of a book (as evidenced by my participation in two book clubs, and being always open to talking about a book)

My yearly reading goal is 50 books, about a book a week.  But here’s an odd little fact: I have a relatively short TBR.  I think I have about 5 books on my Goodreads TBR, and maybe three or four pages ripped from the NY Times or magazines.  If I like a book enough to jot it down,  I read it fairly quickly.  I get excited when I find a book that interests me, and just want to get on with it.  I know this is a departure from the average avid reader.

So, because it’s Friday, and I am not looking forward the weekend because I have family obligations, I am hoping you all make my weekend better by telling me your methods of choosing books.

Do you read marketing emails?

Blurbs?

Recommendations from friends?

Reviews?

Throw a dart?

Also: how long is your TBR?

 

 

 

98 thoughts on “Choice A or Choice B

  1. I just finished The Immortalists from your recommendation. Lol. The next book I read will be from the recommendation of another blogger. I do like promotional emails about new books from my favorite authors. Unfortunately, I only read a couple of books a year. So far I finished one book this year. I just don’t make the time. So the few books I choose should be good ones. It would be hard to find 50 good books to read a year though…sometimes it is hard to find one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a bookstore type of person. I want to “feel” the pages as I decide if it is something I want to read. I have found in recent years I have picked books up that one blogger or another have suggested. Not big on stars for book reviews. I also don’t give reviews much credit as I have purchased books with great ratings and found them not to my taste at all. Have a great weekend!

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  3. I’m perhaps one of the worst people to check her emails. Honest. So even if I did get an email like the generic one you mentioned it wouldn’t do much for me. When I read that in your post I cringed! Yikes!!
    I have a very long TBR list. I think my biggest issue with it has to do with I buy too many books at a time, read one or two of them, then go back out and find some more. I’ve also been in a weird reading slum recently. Need to get over that. My mojo was shaken while in college and I’ve not quite recovered from it. (Have no doubt I read a lot in college; just not always for pleasure!) My friends and I will pass along recommendations but our tastes don’t always overlap. I do a similar hunting system to you; read the backs of books, staff picks, fave authors, that kind of thing. Or just browsing. Reading the blurb of the book is important. ~Kelsey

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also need to read the type of book I’m interested in at that very moment! Sometimes I want a page turner, sometimes I want chick lit, and sometimes I want a good story to get engrossed in

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like to read the reviews after the book as well! I use a lot of the same methods you mention, as well as trolling my friends Goodreads “read” lists to see what they like. I’m a huge fan of the decidedly “Non-literature” camp…my life is heavy enough, as it is. I prefer a good YA trash fest, or wild adventure type stories, with magic, giants, Greek heroes, vampires, witches, you name it…anything that is a clear departure from reality. I also enjoy funny British love stories. I can’t believe I am admitting any of this on the internet. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t generally read reviews before I go into a book, because I like to go in blind and form my own opinion. Once I finish the book, I’ll read reviews to see what other’s opinions are. My TBR is a mile long. I pick books based on a lot of different criteria. Sometimes, I’ll pick a book based on the cover, other times I’ll read the synopsis and pick the book. I’ll search Amazon, join book tours, and wander book stores to find my books. I have the same goal of 50 books this year – I’m behind, but I’m starting to catch up!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I will happily spend an hour or two perusing shelves in brick and mortar bookstores or the library. It’s so easy to wander from section to section to find a book depending on my mood. I almost never shop on Amazon. For anything. Especially books. I find that algorithms have rarely brought up books I end up liking, no matter what platform they’re from. Like, Goodreads constantly suggests that I read George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books in German. I don’t speak German…

    I find starred-ratings to be essentially useless to me. I read a lot of fantasy, but so many times I have come across books with zillions of ratings that average out to 4.5/5, and ended up hating the book that I ignore the stars now. Emailings don’t help much, either, since I usually just trash them without opening them.

    There are several books bloggers whose recommendations generally work for me, so unless they’re gushing about a dystopian novel, I’m probably going to give the book a try at some point.

    My current TBR has 258 titles.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I usually don’t read reviews of books I plan to read because I’m afraid of being spoiled unless it’s someone I trust not to spoil anything. If I’ve read the book then I read the reviews as they come I don’t go out of my way to read all of the reviews though. My TBR is massive between my physical copies and my ebooks I probably have like 300+/-. I get promotional emails but I usually just skim through them unless I see something that catches my eye and then I look into it a little more.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting read 🙂 I personally do not read emails…I’m looking at the subject and if I’m not interested- Im deleting it without opening. I have zero time to read any blurbs or advertising. I do that during last 3 years lol the older I am – the less I’m reading emails.
    About the review. For example I started to write them only for fun. Because I see lots of ppl writing it on WP and because I read a lot. So why not?
    I’m not real review I never been on any netgaley or any website (only goodreads). My review is a spoiler (in 80% of cases), bcz I don’t see it as a review but the story based on the book. Humor added/
    Idk…If I think it is fun – im writing it. No – I don’t waste my time. That’s the rule lol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I find a library I like even in a “funny area” where the books are up-to-date and I check out the shelves. Ironically, the best “just opened” library I discovered while subbing nearby. It is not a great area but they get the latest books. I just went to the library today nearer to our house and picked up for $2 a paperback copy of Deaver and Scottline. Light reading for the week.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Do they work? Maybe. If I really liked the author’s writing, and this was the way I found out they had a new book out, I would at least check it out. That doesn’t mean I’d buy it, but I’d at least know it exists. I loved Andy Weir’s “The Martian,” and I may get around to reading his new book “Artemis” someday (my wife has promised to punish me ever so severely if I buy anymore books on Amazon or anywhere else). I didn’t find out about “Artemis” from Goodreads, but I had to discover that it existed somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I NEVER read marketing emails. I get a lot of my recommendations from friends and from members of my book club. I also visit a little free library that a friend has and check out the selection every few weeks. My TBR list is long, but I just realized yesterday that I had to read a book for book club by this Sunday. I bought it for my e-reader last night, and I am already over halfway finished with it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m afraid :/ promotional emails just like the fliers that come through the door go straight in the bin. On lol a more positive note I enjoy calling into my local bookstore and looking at the newly released shelves.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I go by authors. I like an author’s book and immediately do a search through the library to find other books written. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield had me so perturbed and perplexed, I was ‘hung over’ by that story for weeks after! I typed a tweet to her about it and she responded. 🙂 Then I went and read American Wife and had a similar experience. Same with Robert B. Parker (Spenser, Jesse Stone mysteries, etc) and many others…

    I don’t buy books. I have no space, and they collect dust that no one cares than me. I love libraries for that exact reason.

    And reviews? Nope. I make up my own view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d be interested in your thoughts about Sisterland in particular. American Wife took me a while to get into but omg the one part…after you pass through that part you can’t help yourself but to continue.

      Do let me know if you read either…

      Liked by 1 person

  14. The blurb is a huge thing for me, but so are genres. I will not pick up certain books or even bother to read the blurb if I’m not a fan of the genre. That is probably why I like the switch to digital so much because you have loads more options of being able to find exactly the kind of book you are looking for. Even with that, I sometimes think that the choices don’t go granular enough and I have to really slog through reading a ton of blurbs to find something even close to what I am looking for.

    I am not a fan of reading reviews before hand, for much of the same reasons you have. I really don’t like to have a book spoiled, though I will glance through them if I’m looking at a book by an author I’m not familiar with. I also can’t stand reviews that are basically a summary or expanded version of the blurb. I’m looking for opinions and emotional reactions, not an overall story recap. That is the whole point of a blurb in the first place.

    Author is another huge choosing point for me. I have authors that I adore and I will buy the book the second it comes out (often through preorder), I don’t care what the blurb says. If it is by a certain author, it will be mine. There are other authors that, no matter how highly rated they are, I won’t read them as I know I don’t like them, so I won’t even bother with the blurb.

    Since I read pretty much non-stop (200+ books a year), I have several TBR lists. Or rather, lists of books that looked good, but maybe I wasn’t in the mood for that particular book at that time and I want to remember to look at it again later. Each list is by genre to make it easier to find something if I’m in a particular mood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean about author! There are certain authors I just read regardless of topic, because I find their style so engaging…I actually look forward to their books!!
      And I have to be in a certain mood to read certain books. Sometimes I need a certain genre, if you know what I mean

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I follow Goodreads friends to see what they were reading, but that only worked for fiction titles for some reason. My TBR list is long and mostly non-fiction. I sometimes feel I’ll never get to them all. Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN is also a good source because he’s great about mentioning new titles towards the end of the broadcast. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oddly, many of my friends do not use goodreads….and if they mention a book, I’ll probably forget. Need to get my friends to sign up!!

      Like

  16. I read a lot, it’s my favorite thing to do. Now that I am retired I read one or two books a week. I choose books first by author then by what’s on bestseller lists. After those two are checked out I browse the library shelves. I don’t read reviews but I do read the jacket blurbs. Right now my library request list only has five books on it but sometimes there is a dozen or more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny, because there are so many reviewers, yet I’m finding many of us don’t like reviews…we like a concise, articulate blurb…

      Like

  17. I like reading reviews after I finish the book too, especially if it was one I was on the fence about. When choosing via the ‘review method’ though, I also look for books that average 4/ 4.5. But then I read a few of those reviews and a handful of the bad ones to see if what ppl generally like/ dislike are things that matter to me as well.
    If an author contacts me via email, I’ll most likely read the offered book only if it’s by an author I read and liked before. A brand new one to me will be put through the ‘review method’. Lol
    Hope the family obligations go easy on you this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Family obligations were a weird mix…in some respects much better, but other respects, bizarre. Though I guess that’s family!! But yes to post read reviews!!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I haven’t set foot in a physical bookstore in years. I’m fairly dedicated to my Kindle. Have been ever since I figured out I can enlarge the print to make things easier to read.
    I do keep a paperback in the car, just in case I’m stuck somewhere without my little electronic friend. The last time I dug it out waiting for a train, my first thought was “Holy CRAP, is this print SMALL!”

    I have absolutely no idea how many books may or may not exist on a TBR list. I do have a Goodreads account, but I’m not active with it.

    I like the Kindle First program – gets me a free book every month. I’ve picked up a couple of new authors in my preferred list that way.

    Usually, I shop by author or genre. I read a TON of sci-fi, alternate-reality, dystopian future, fantasy type stuff. I’ll also grab books by some of the bloggers I follow.

    My favorite thing to do, though, is go back through the content I’ve got on the Kindle, and pick an old friend to revisit. I can’t count the number of books that I’ve read through a dozen or more times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admit I’m addicted to my e reader as well, but I love browsing in a book store…there’s something satisfying about it!! And it’s funny with print and such…a friend recently lent me a paperback…it was annoying because I could only read it in a certain chair, by a certain lamp….e reader soooo much easier!!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I have a short TBR list unless I’ve found a series
    I like. And I chose books based on recommendations from friends and family members. My children and I enjoy the same types of books. Right now I’m reading a sci-fi book that Amazon suggested for me based on previous purchases. It’s so good. People
    Magazine also has good suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I do judge book by its cover. I too love walking around in a bookstore. I love to touch them and see the different styles of covers. Usually if a title or cover jumps out at me I will pick it up and read the blurb. I buy books at garage sales too

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the same way! There are certain covers that intrigue me, and it really is a good way to know if you’re going to like something!!

      Like

  21. My TBR list comes from suggestions of other bloggers. Almost without exception, the entries are crossed out because the book is not available at the library. I generally read at least one book a year, along with hours and hours of blog posts. *sigh* I realize this is an inappropriate comment on your lovely site.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I browse books that Amazon claims are similar to the one’s I’ve already purchased. And I volunteer at a thrift store and often glance at books there and sometimes spent $1 or $2 books that seem interesting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I’m not a big reader…….but I like to have a book by my bed to read before bed. It sometimes takes me weeks to read a book. If I’m travelling or on vacation I will read more. I enjoy browsing the bookstore, reading the blurbs on the cover for a story that captures my attention. But I also love true stories, so I’m often drawn to a title after hearing someone’s story I’ve seen on tv or in a magazine. I’m currently looking for a new book……..you’ve inspired me to drop into a bookstore in the near future !

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Many of the books I read are for my book club. I also get suggestions from friends and bloggers. I mostly get books from the library since I can’t justify spending a lot of money for something I will just read once. BookBub is another good low-price source for me. I just downloaded a book with the title Writing Without Bullshit… I’m looking forward to reading that!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I love my Kindle, though I must admit I’m going through a period of writing instead of reading. I also love reading books by the same author, though this is often disappointing. I enjoy biographies and non-fiction most. Truth is, well, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Frankly, I don’t have time for books (50 a year?!). You know, not a lot. Because of this, I’m able to read things I’ve heard about for months or even years. That, and I’m in a book group.
    Add people’s blog posts to my list, and I’m swamped. I DO hear about good recommendations from blogs, too. Like, I’m currently reading The Very Worst Missionary and LOVING IT.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I find books by all the ways you mentioned, and then some, besides throwing a dart. Since I’m pretty selective about most of the books I choose to read, my reviews typically are in the 4 to 5 range. And I can honestly say that I have loved many books enough to give them a 5-star rating. If a book rates lower than a 3 I usually don’t review it on my blog.
    Right now I’m reading and loving Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea. Yow! I know I’m loving a book when I inundate my husband with details about it, like last night when we went out to dinner. Also, if I can’t stop thinking about a book or I can’t wait for the opportunity to get back to it, it’s probably going to wind up a 4 to 5 star rating. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just realized I digressed from your question. Sorry. Most of my emails are book related, and I follow a copious amount of book blogs. I read ads, blurbs, wander around in book stores, Goodreads, Amazon, Bookbub, etc. Just like the name of my blog says, I’m “Living in my own book world.” Pretty pathetic, right? But books sort of keep me sane. When my mind is absorbed by books it’s hard to concentrate on other things that unnerve me. But that’s a topic for another blog post. 😂
      Let’s not talk about my tbr. 🤦🏽‍♀️ I actually have a reading room with bookshelves filled with books, so that should give you an idea of how many books I have waiting to be read. Books to me are like shoes for many women, I can’t have too many.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. I don’t really read many reviews of books, because my tastes are so often different from other people’s. Also, many books that I enjoy are out of print by authors that were never huge names. An exception is Tana French’s mystery series, which I really like but is also a commercial success. Mostly, I discover books by wandering around a bookstore, pulling interesting books off the shelves, reading the back cover and then the first page. I can usually tell from there if I want to continue, although sometimes I’m fulled by a book that looks promising but tends not to be.

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  29. I’m going to refrain from writing a blog post in your comment section, but this is one of my favourite topics (as you may know…) Perhaps it’s best if I stick to answering your questions directly:

    Do you read marketing emails?
    Skim them. I don’t think any have roused a response from me yet. (Not even the Lee Child note on Goodreads.)

    Blurbs?
    Definitely. Also Amazon (like you), but more frequently Goodreads has lists of “books like X” for X=any book you want. So I look at those lists, or the ones that are recommended in the “because you liked X” section on Goodreads.
    I also read reviews.
    Lots of them Amazon, Goodreads, Guardian, blogs. Goodreads is solid in terms of no-spoilers—all reviews should be spoiler free unless they’re marked otherwise, and I’ve found that to be fairly true. I’m picky as to which books I’ll start reading (because I’m almost definitely going to finish them), and I’ve got a certain set of standards/interests I require before I start reading. Also researching books is fun!

    Recommendations from friends?
    Yes, though they’ll pass the same review-reading ringer as above. The exception are books which I am directly given, in hard copy. Those will go on the shelf and get read at some point or other. Sometimes I’ll open them without even know what I’m getting myself into (which can be exciting!).

    Reviews?
    Yup.

    Throw a dart?
    Not so much, though if I’m browsing in a bookstore, especially second-hand where the books are dirt cheap I might take a dart-throwing chance.

    Also: how long is your TBR?

    As it stands on Goodreads now: 1285. (Increases daily…)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, it’s been creeping up, I used to tell myself my TBR shouldn’t be longer than the list of books I’ve read (on GR at least), but that’s a paltry 700+, then I said the total number of books TBR+read wouldn’t pass 2000, and now it has. *Throws hands up*

        Liked by 1 person

  30. I don’t get many emails from authors asking what I thought of their book or notifying me that they have a new one out. I think I’ve gotten two from fellow authors that are pretty new at being published. I’ve downloaded one of each of their books, but have not had a chance to read them yet. I’ve bought one via amazon and have read through half of one of them.

    I am big on reviews, and yeah, knowing that a lot of them may be fake or whatever makes it difficult to really know for sure unless, of course, I take a chance and just buy and and read it. Like you, I look at at least 4-star ratings as the overall review (also 5-star ratings…I do give a few books I’ve read 5 stars). I can handle 3-star ratings as the overall review, but anything under that, I don’t bother.

    I like to read the blurbs. After reading the title and looking at the cover a second, I read the blurb. It’s what draws me in…has me deciding whether I’ll buy it or not, along with good reviews.

    I have too many TBR stacked up on my night stand. Must be at least 11 on there plus the one I’m currently reading. Oy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These author emails only began about a month ago. I was a little surprised actually, especially as they were established authors. 11 on your nightstand!! Wow!

      Like

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