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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Discussion: How Do You Choose?

Welcome back, fellow romance lovers. Time to get comfy for the weekend, preferably with a good book or two. Or three. Or ten. If you're as buried under romance (and maybe some related genres as well) as I am, picking your next read can be a complicated process. 

Readers today have never had more options from which to choose. Books are widely available, from bookstores, libraries, supermarkets, newsstands, the internet, even our phones. The formats are seemingly endless; hardcover, mass market paperback, trade size paperback, audiobooks, ebooks, novels, novellas, anthologies, collections, new releases, reissues, continuities, series, single title, category, manga, graphic novels, etc. Even within our genre, romance, there's something for everyone, which means there are a lot of books out there. How's a reader to choose?

Once upon a time, I lived a short bus ride away from a fabulous used bookstore, and my weekly book buying trips had a comfortable routine to them. Trade in old books, pick out new ones and repair to the frozen yogurt shop a few doors down to lay out my bounty and decide in what order I would devour it. Since I love historical romance, I'd lay the books out in timeline fashion, from most ancient to most modern, and that would be the order in which I would read. So, if I bought an Edwardian, a Regency, a Tudor, a medieval and a western, there was no question about my reading order: medieval, Tudor, Regency, western, Edwardian, and then I'd need to buy more books.

This worked okay for a while, and sometimes I miss the ease of such a system, but there are also some problems. That system doesn't work as well when the haul contains several books set in the same era, for example, and it doesn't allow for books by those favored few authors for whom I'll drop everything else. When the number of those favored few grows, it can wreak havoc with the best of intentions. Then there's books written by people I know, books I've spent years trying to hunt down, new books popping up from seemingly out of nowhere to grab my attention, and books I might not have considered, but come highly recommended, or have something I'd like to study, or, or, or...

There's the book whose cover called to me across a crowded bookstore, the library book that has to be back in fourteen days, a friend's new release, the latest in a series, the classic I've always meant to read, an exciting new debut, a new to me author who used a favorite setting I hardly see anymore, another with a clever title, and, well, you get the drift. Something tried and true? Bold and innovative? Within my comfort zone or outside it? When I have an ARC to read for another place where I blog, that takes the dilemma out of my hands, but when I'm reading only for myself, the choices can be overwhelming. Readers, however, are persistent creatures, and eventually, we figure it out. Sometimes it's as easy as wanting to dive under a great cover, or the chance to finally get current in a beloved series, or even something as indefinable as the book picking me. (Fellow readers, you know this happens.)

What do you do when it's time to reach into the TBR pile? Do you  have a system in place, and if so, do you ever make exceptions? Do you participate in reading challenges? Book groups? Hoard series and then read them all at once? When faced with all those lovely, lovely love stories on your shelf or reader, how do you choose which to read next? If you're not sure, which book would be your next read if one of the above pictures were your TBR shelf?


  1. I really like this post. I don't exactly have a system. My local library has quite the selection in romance novels. Since I read about a book a day. Each month I read about 15 library books, then focus on ARC's for the month and if I still have books left to read, then I will buy some that aren't at my library but are in my TBR pile, or even books I own but have yet to read. Its not a perfect system, but I do try to balance my reading out.

  2. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 31, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    As long as you're reading a book a day, sounds like it's working great. A book a day - I bow to the mistress. A library with a great romance selection is the best!

  3. Which book do I feel guiltiest about not reading yet? :) I have a whole set of Kim Harrison's series given to me by the publisher for review. Last year. I'm starting the whole set now.

  4. Anna Carrasco BowlingMay 31, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Corrina, you are braver than I to confront such a question. Book guilt is a powerful motivating factor.

  5. I have no system, whatsoever. LOL Since I am not a fast reader, I tend to pick a book that I have been waiting to read, first. Not only that but I read a few books at the same time (well not exactly at the same time, but you know what I mean). I usually reserve audiobooks for YA titles and read romance titles. Another factor would be my autobuy authors. So if I get ahold of books by them, I tend to drop the others and read these first!

  6. The stress, the stress! I usually have a bunch of library books, but also own more books than I could read in a year. And the shiny new ones call to me! I was doing really well with reading 4 books a week in the beginning of the year. Now, not so much! Glad I am not the only one with these problems!

  7. Great discussion. I used to read books strictly in order they came in… but that went out of the window when I started by blog and started to get review books. Would love to go back to my old system to be honest, but there are just too many books. I'm not a terribly fast reader either, maybe 1-2 medium sized ones (ie. 400 pages) a week.

  8. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 1, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Hey, having no system can still be a system. If you're reading, it's working. I tend to read multiple books at the same time, too.

  9. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 1, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    Ah, Sharlene, you do get it! At least you'll never run out of reading material.

  10. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 1, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    Judy, life does get in the way sometimes, doesn't it? 1000+ books on your Kindle; I am impressed, madam.

  11. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 1, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    Peggy, reading books in the order they came in sounds like such a calm, sane solution, but who among us can do that anymore? The book madness is upon us, and that's a good thing.

  12. Christine Maria RoseJune 1, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    I suffer from book paralysis constantly! Right now I have a top 25 or so list and I try to get to one or two of those a week. I definitely try to read books by authors I have interactions with on twitter and facebook in a more timely fashion. If I receive an ARC it gets top priority of course. Sometimes though, I just flip through my ereader pages and open up something whose cover catches my eye. I have about 800 books on my ereader - realistically I know it will take several months if not years to get through them, especially with constant new releases. I have found I am stricter with my DNF's though - if I get 50 or so pages in and I'm not feeling the connection, I'm done with it - I just don't have the time to spend on a book I'm not enjoying. As for your picture - I have Unforgettable by Samantha Hunter and I'm hoping to get to that very soon (I love her books). Definitely the Bella Andre or the Zoe Archer books also catch my attention! I've been on more of a contemporary kick lately rather than historical.

  13. Uh-oh. I finishing the first Rachel Morgan story. And now I must read them all. (There's ten or so.) Well, at least that solves my "choosing" problem for a while...

  14. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 1, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    That certainly does solve the choosing problem. Finding a great new author or series is like discovering a whole new world to explore.

  15. I use for books off my goodreads list and then I put in my request for the book from the public library and read them as I get them. As for the ones I already own, I don't have many so it's easy for me to just grab whatever I feel like reading.

  16. That's a pretty fair and interesting way to choose, Alyn! :)

  17. I don't really have a system...mostly I read what I feel like reading, or whatever books are about to be released (in the case of ARCs). When I first started reading romance, I think I just went to read whichever title I discovered whose blurb caught my attention. Now, I have way too many books to read, so sometimes I may begin a book and discover by the second chapter that I've lost interest, which means moving on to another book. Eventually, I may or may not get back to that first book. It's a very haphazard way of picking books to read. LOL (Too tired over the weekend so apologies for my late comment~)

  18. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 2, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Mary, interesting comments are always on time, and whatever one feels like reading sounds like a pretty good system to me.

  19. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 2, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    alyn, I never thought of using to choose reading order. That's brilliant, and takes all the pressure off the reader. I may have to try that myself.



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