I’ve been thinking about the books I read, and why I pick them up.
I’ll admit: I’m a review reader. But I usually go back and read the reviews after I’ve read a book.
If I see a lot of people mentioning a book on Twitter, I’ll download the sample to my Kindle. Same goes for a blog review that piques my interest. (I found Beastly through a blog review, and it’s one of my favorite books.)
Even still, this is only sometimes. Like if I have my Kindle handy, or if I’m not in the middle of reading something else.
We all talk about word of mouth. That’s what sells books. You could have a hundred good reviews on Goodreads, but if people aren’t actually telling someone else to read your book, it doesn’t have as much weight. If I’d looked up Boy Toy on Goodreads and read the mixed reviews, I might not have read the book. But I asked my buddy Sarah Fine for a recommendation, and she said to read it.
I read it. I loved it. You should too. I actually read it twice.
But see? Even that doesn’t carry as much weight unless you know me. Even if you know me, it doesn’t carry as much weight unless I say, “YOU. You must read this book.”
I don’t read a whole lot of contemporary YA, unless it’s on the heavier side. I enjoy Simone Elkeles, Gail Giles, things like that.
But last year, every time I turned around, people were saying, “You have to read Anna and the French Kiss.” So I knew I had to read it.
I read it. I loved it. (It’s by Stephanie Perkins. You should read it, too.)
When both Sarah Maas and Bobbie Goettler told me I needed to read Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand, and these are two people who live on opposite sides of the country and could not be more different, I knew I had to pick it up.
I read it. I loved it. (Are you sensing a theme?)
I might not have picked up any of these books if people hadn’t practically shoved them into my hands and said, “HERE. YOU. Read this.”
Everyone reads books they can’t put down. What, in a book, makes you not just review it well, but press it into the hands of someone else? What makes you sit up and say, “HERE. YOU. Read this.”
For me, it’s the understanding of human nature, mixed with an element of surprise. Not the jump-out-and-say-boo kind of surprise. Just something unexpected happening to people I genuinely care about. It’s about a book I can’t put down, not for a minute, not even when I’m feeding the baby. It’s a book that I’ll stay up late to read.
I’m not saying it’s easy to write books like that. I’m just saying that’s what makes me recommend a book.
What about you? What works? What doesn’t?