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?