Thursday, November 20, 2014

Before we were writers, we were readers.

So what do we read? What makes us choose that book? The summary on the back cover, reviews on blogs or Goodreads? Or perhaps it was written by an author you've already read and felt like it was a sure thing. It could even be the first page or first chapter that you quickly scanned that made you take the leap and head to the bookstore checkout, library counter or push the purchase button. What did the trick for you?

So, you've read the book now and enjoyed it. What made you enjoy it? Is it because it made you cry? The characters sucked you in to their life, the plot was unique and riveting, the twists were shocking....
And now you're probably asking: Why so many questions for the writers, Lisa?

Sometimes writers forget how important reading is in keeping in touch with what we love. It's also important to keep in touch with our reader selves in order to know how important that first page is, those first five pages, the first chapter. Of course reading should still be a pleasure, but it doesn't hurt to ask ourselves these questions afterward. So, writers, answer us below. You never might get your brain refocused.

Readers, tell us what made you choose the book you most recently began. About the last book you really enjoyed: what made you like it so much? What sucked you in and made you invest your precious hours on the story?
I'm also curious to see if our answers match. Are readers-only more enthralled with twisting plots while writers are mostly enthused by fully-fleshed, relatable characters?

Caitlin:  I find books a number of ways. I'll read books I might originally feel meh about for my book club (because I love talking to other people about the same book and often books can surprise you). I also listen to friend recommendations (Right now I'm reading a Harlan Coben book, HOLD TIGHT, because my sister and a writers group friend insisted I MUST read him. :) ) Other times I'm looking for a specific type of book, like a romance with a political backdrop or a young adult book with FBI elements...just cause, well, I can get picky in my reading choices. I also read books by some of the authors I follow on twitter or who I've run into in online forums because it's fun to read books by authors I "know." And I'll check out books that people mention in blogs and on twitter. So, basically, there are a lot of ways that I find my way to my next book. :)

Dan: I'm glad you asked this question, Lisa! Understanding how readers find books, and choose which ones to read, is increasingly important for authors. For me (talking as a reader now) it's usually the author that draws me to a book: if it's someone I've read before, or heard about, I go for it. Often I'll get personal recommendations from a friend, co-worker, or family member. I try to read books that win awards or draw acclaim in my genre, too, which is why I'm currently reading Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice. Sadly, I've never chosen to read a book based on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.

When it comes to choosing between books, I do consider reviews like those found on Amazon or Goodreads. Availability is also a factor: if I can get the Kindle book through Overdrive, I'm more likely to read that book first.

Karlie: I love to be surprised - as in, shocked out of my mind. As long as everything adds up correctly, those big twists make me very happy.You guys probably have this problem, too - when you read constantly, predictability is a major problem.
I also love cop thrillers, anything involving the FBI, firefighter stories…but if it has an intriguing blurb, it had better follow through, or that author is off my read list. And like both Caitlin and Dan, if I really love an author, I'll try pretty much anything by him/her.

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