Choosing What To Read Next
It’s a question I get asked a lot; how do you wade through all the book covers and titles to find something you really want to read, especially when it might possibly mean laying out cash on something you don’t enjoy?
First, I set myself a book budget. I pick a subject I’d like to read about, and one I maybe could be persuaded to read about. Then I head for a good bookstore rather than choosing online, but it needs to be one with thoughtfully chosen stock – either an independent shop or a great big flagship like Foyles. Not all Waterstones are the same – there are two near me, one of which never has anything I want, while the other always holds surprises.
I’m prepared to chuck a surprise book into the mix. I check the price on Kindle; there may be an offer on the title that’s a third of the print version. About titles, I go half-and-half, one new book plus one older novel. Sometimes I’ll try a writer I’ve never read before but about whom I’ve heard good things, so I take recommendations from people I trust.
Sometimes it’s worth trying a genre you never normally touch. If you’ve never read SF, try a classic first, perhaps ‘Dandelion Wine’ by Ray Bradbury. If you’re thinking about crime, look at the subdivisions – I’m catching up on my US authors at the moment; crime novels seem to be the particular forte of writers who live in states like Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and California.
I give big crime bestsellers a bash but am frequently disappointed. I disliked Anthony Horowitz’s ‘Magpie Murders’ and found Paula Hawkins’ ‘Into The Water’ incomprehensible, so I tend to avoid heavily promoted books unless they have direct appeal, and pick subjects that interest me. The last five titles I bought (all of which I enjoyed/ am enjoying) were;
‘The Human Flies’ – Hans Olav Lahlum
‘A Very British Scandal’ – John Preston
‘Dodgers’ – Bill Beverly
‘Ghosts of Spain’ – Giles Tremlett
‘His Bloody Project’ – Graeme Macrae Burnet
Generally, there’s no pattern behind my choices, though. I can be swayed by subject, author, description or a cool cover depending on my mood – and there are times when you just have to buy a book, even though you’re not short of things to read.
If I really enjoy something I’ve bought more cheaply on Kindle, I often buy it again as a keeper. I think I’m probably a publisher’s dream purchaser, although much of what I buy can be legitimately claimed as a business expense!