Tuesday, January 20, 2009


How do you judge a book? I mean, when you walk into a bookstore and pull a book from the shelf, what is it about the book that ultimately makes you reach for your wallet?

My selection method goes something like this: I see a title that intrigues me. Here I'm looking for words alone. THEN I look at the cover art and the book blurbs and the inside jacket. Many times the book goes back on the shelf at this point.

But if I'm still interested, I flip through to a random page and read a few sentences. Does it make me think? Feel? Do I like the tone and voice? Do I want to know more?

I flip again to another random page and repeat the analysis. And that's when I know if I'm going to buy the book or not.

The great news is that there are so many books out there these days -- truly, there is something for everyone.

What's your process in deciding which one to bring home?

"Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love."

- David McCullough


  1. Great system! I do the title, then cover, then read the back or jacketflap.

    But I think I'll add the random page method too!

  2. I do something similar. For fiction and non-fiction, its: title, then back and blurbs, then first page.

    For poetry, I have to read a few poems chosen at random to get a feel for it.

    When I worked in publishing in the early nineties, one theory that circulated in our department was that books sold better if they had blue in the cover. I never bought into that idea, but some people really do go for a book based on the cover art alone.

    By the way--love the quote today!

  3. I read the first page to get a feel for the rhythm and tone. I'm looking for something that makes me want to know the characters and feel what they feel. I'm especially intrigued by anything that takes me completely outside my own perspective, but still feels genuine and real. A good book is kind of like getting to be another person for a while. Love that.


  4. I do the exact same thing as you--except I add in a little caressing. I just love the way a good book feels in my hands!


  5. I knew this would be a highly individualized ritual! Love hearing how all of you approach a book!

  6. cover, then back, then first page

  7. My order of operations:
    1. Title.
    2. Cover. If there are any markers of chic lit it is going back.
    3. Read the first page.
    4. Read the back of the book.
    5. Ask myself if I need to own it or is it a library book.

  8. 1. hear about it on a podcast or read about it
    2. find it


Your thoughts?