average American (66% read fewer than ten books a year). A lot of us keep a list or stack of books we hope to read. Some of the people I follow on Goodreads, and you know who you are, will sometimes add five or ten titles at a time they plan to read. I'm curious, though, how you decide what you're going to read next. Out of all those millions of books published every year (and all those that have gone before), how do you decide on the thirty or forty (or fifty or sixty, you freaks!) that you actually read?
As a sort of experiment, I made a list of the last ten books I read and made a note of how I heard of it or why I picked it up.
My last ten:
1. The Orphan Master: (Hardback) Found it on a National Public Radio list of best reads of the year. I read the reviews and thought I would like it. I would call this a word-of-mouth recommendation.
2. The Dog Stars: (Hardback) Found this one on the same NPR list, and it was set in my backyard (almost literally) which interested me. So word-of-mouth and personal interest.
3. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: (Paperback) This was recommended by a friend who can't confuse me anymore by calling me a "hoopy frood who knows where her towel is." Again, word-of-mouth.
4. Treasure Island: (Free e-book) A classic. Also, a friend and I were discussing Robert Louis Stevenson, and I felt guilty I'd never read it before. Is guilt a category? Maybe.
5. Finding Claire Fletcher: (E-book) Written by friend and fellow blogger Lisa Regan, so I knew a lot about it already. Read after featuring it on my blog.
6. Tough Girl: (E-book) Written by friend and fellow blogger Libby Heily. Saw lots and lots of excerpts of this one on her blog first. Read it to prepare for an interview with her on my blog.
7. The Night Circus: (Paperback) Okay, this one was everywhere. I think I first saw it on Golden Eagle's blog, The Eagle's Aerial Perspective. Then I saw it on a lot of people's Goodreads lists. Lots of buzz. Even the checkout girl at Target, where I bought it, recommended it to me. Definitely word-of-mouth.
8. The Mistaken: (E-book) Written by friend and fellow blogger Nancy Thompson. Also followed the progress of this one for a long time. Read it after featuring it on my blog.
9. Julius Caesar: (Already owned hardback) A classic. Hadn't read this one by Shakespeare before. I know!
10. Expect Civilian Casualties: (E-book) Saw this featured on Susan Roebuck's blog. Never would have heard of it otherwise.
So, five books were chosen based solely on word-of-mouth through mentions on other blogs, websites, or by friends. Two were classics I'd always meant to read, and three were part word-of-mouth, part "hey, I gotta read my friend's book!"
I'd say this is fairly typical for me these days. I'm not one to go to a bookstore or Amazon and peruse the back of a book for something that piques my interest much anymore. I used to buy that way, and with some success, but I find my habits have changed, and I go much more by recommendation than I used to.
What about you, why did you choose to read your last book? And do you believe authors can truly amp up that word-of-mouth factor by Tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging?
artwork by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527 -1593)