Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why I didn't pick up the book

I was at the library the other day and browsed for at least an hour. It was wonderful. It was after work, the library didn't close for another two hours and I didn't have anywhere else to be.

I wasn't sure what I felt like reading, hence the hour-long browsing. Here is my highly subjective list of things that made me put a book back on the shelf after picking it up (and really, any of these could change tomorrow) :

-covers featuring someone wearing not enough clothes

-Inside flap copy with a misplaced modifier

-back cover description in an insanely large font. (It took me a minute to realize it was a large print edition. So technically I put it back because it was a large print edition and not because something about it was wrong.)

-books written by men

-inside flap copy that stops talking about the plot and starts telling me how a character feels

-books set before 1700

-MC who is in a bad/deadend relationship and knows it but doesn't want to get out

-books with extraterrestrials

-flap copy that mentions high heels or lipstick as if that tells me something about the MC

-flap copy that tells me how I will feel reading it. ("It's a stirring, emotional look at what happens when...") You don't know me, book. I will decide how I will feel. Except I won't because your book is going back on the shelf because I didn't find any plot details within the first three sentences.


Jennifer Shirk said...

Huh. That's interesting. It's funny what strikes our mood in a day. :)

Captain Hook said...

That is quite the odd list. Some of them I would never think important.

- Not enough clothes - I get that, though if it's not an inspirational romance, then you won't be reading any of them.

- Books written by men - Wow! Why?

- Inside flap - I never read them because they don't really tell you anything.

- Books before 1700 - I'm totally with you there.

- MC in a bad relationship - Once again, totally agree.

- ETs - C'mon! Aliens are awesome!

Just my opinions, but then if I followed the same rules you do, I'd never have anything to read.

Lenore said...

Bad grammar is a biggie.

Bevie said...

You are a tough audience. You're not an editor, are you?

No books by men. That seems to be an uncomfortable generalization which may need clarification.

I'm with Captain Hook on the inside flap thing, but I'm opposite you on the 1700 boundary. I prefer older settings. Medieval is best.

Bad relationship books. No.

Aliens? Probably with you there.

Telling me about appearances and not character qualities. Yes.

Telling me how I will feel reading it. Gotta agree with you on that one, too. With this one goes comparisons to other books. They never do.

Anna Claire said...

I'd probably better clarify that this list applies just to the mood I was in that day.
I don't always hate books written by men (although I don't read an awful lot of them; I find myself preferring female authors about 80 percent of the time) and books before 1700 are OK sometimes. Not a fan of aliens.

Bad grammar? No. Just no.

cerrissa said...

these are great! i never thought about this before, but it is totally true! i would also have to say any book that has the author on the front cover is not going to be read by me.

if not thrown off by the cover, my next test is to open the book to somewhere in the middle and read a page or two. if i want to keep reading, i usually get it immediately. if not, back to the stacks it goes.

Dawn VanderMeer said...


I followed you over here from Nathan's post to answer your question from yesterday. :) The article I read said SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS will be the next book in the Quirk Classics series, and the author is Ben H. Winters. (By the way, I liked your idea of having today's comforts in Jane Austen's world!)

Sorry to be off topic from your post! Regarding book selection... If I don't have a book in mind when I walk into a library or bookstore, I think I pretty much go by genre, authors I like, premises I like, intriguing first pages, maybe who the agent is, covers, and/or if someone recommended it. I also do the same thing Cerrissa does, opening the book to a random spot and seeing if it engages me. An author's gender never really comes to mind.

Have a great day! Thanks for the fun!

Liana Brooks said...

Hmm, I'll have to sit down and list why I don't grab a book some day.

Nudity, language, and time period are all big ones. I usually look at the first few pages rather than the back cover or inside flap. If I'm bored by page 3 I'm skipping.

Yat-Yee said...

Thanks for posting frank remarks about why you put a book back. I have a list, probably subliminal, that is in my mind, that is so subjective and so unexplainable that I am not brave enough to share it with everyone.

I do very much get the one about lipstick and high heels though!