Monday, May 14, 2012

Why I Don't Read New Things

I went to the library today and was reminded of why I don't read as much as I should. It's because going to the library (and really, going anywhere with choices) with me is a huge ordeal. I can't just check out some books and leave. You will actually be stuck with me for at least an hour, even though I won't wander beyond the two shelves of YA books. I always end up checking out books I've already read instead of new ones, because I am exceedingly picky about what I read. For instance, I almost always check out a Donna Jo Napoli book and I check out STAY WITH ME (Garret Freymann-Weyr) every time it's available. Yeah, sorry, they should probably impose limits on how many times you can re-check out a book, because I have it so often I might as well own it. It's just easier to check out a book you already know you'll like.

A lot of things have to align for me to read a new book:

I have to like the cover. Simple is better. Mysterious brooding girls are usually a no.

I have to like the title. There are some really awful pretentious titles and also some obviously crass, attention-grabbing ones that turn me off. Doesn't mean the book is bad, just means I probably won't read it.

I have to like the heft. I don't read books that are too long. Short attention span, ho! It needs to be a nice size, not awkwardly oblong or too short.

I have to like the font. Fonts that are too big or weird-looking always drive me away. Big font sizes make me feel like I'm reading a book for babies or pseudo-blind people.

I have to like the description (obviously). And if I'm browsing on Amazon, I have to like the reviews too.

I have to like the genre. YA is preferred. I like magical elements, but not straight-up high fantasy usually. I have overdosed on historical fiction so now the only HF I read is Philippa Gregory (see below). I like contemporary. Chick lit sometimes in the summer and also if I know the author (see below again). I theoretically like steampunk, but I haven't really read anything of that nature. I categorically hate paranormal romance. Not a fan of straight-up sci fi either.

It helps a lot if I know and like the author. In fact, nine times out of ten, if I've read that author before (and liked him/her), I will read all subsequent books even if I have grown out of that genre/am skeptical about the premise/hate the cover and font. Yeah, brand loyalty and all that!

Free verse does not bother me, although I refuse to check out multiple books with free verse in any given week. I rarely follow through with people's recommendations (sorry).* It helps if a book has a personal recommendation, but only marginally, because if the book is not favorable in the various arbitrary characteristics I talked about, I will still not read it. Unless it's a literary phenomenon and I will be shut out of daily conversation if I haven't read it (The Hunger Games). Or, you know, if you give me the book as a gift and I'll feel embarrassed next time I see you if I haven't read it (Harry Potter).

So basically, I don't read nearly as much as I should, because almost no books meet my qualifications. I did take home two new books this week though. I consider it a success.

*But I like getting recommendations!


  1. Wow. After reading your post I am incredibly impressed you brought home TWO new books this week! Amazing. Also, it's interesting you put so much emphasis on book packaging. Maybe there wouldn't be so many obstacles if you got an eReader?

    1. I do have a Kindle actually (I'm going to do a post about it soon, I swear), and it does help a little. But it means I spend hours on Amazon trying to find a book I want to buy, haha.

  2. Oh man, you ARE picky but I kind of understand (even if I am categorically not-so-picky, though sci-fi is a forever hard sell for me). Since you like book recs, I'll just leave this one here since I love this book to itty bitty pieces - THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater. It's funny because I had near 0 interest in this book because I'd read Stiefvater's SHIVER and thought it was just okay (it's in your category NO of paranormal romance). But I heard Scorpio Races was about killer water horses and was slightly more interested, and then I read this great review that convinced me to read it. NO REGRETS. I love this book SO MUCH, it's ridiculous. But I also know it's not for everyone. It appeals to very specific parts of me, and the writing is quietly gorgeous.

    Ahem. I'm going to stop gushing now. (This is me about this book like 6 months since I read it, and I'm still crazy about it.)

    1. Hmm, interesting. Yeah, I haven't heard good things about SHIVER, but killer water horses sound pretty awesome. Might see if I can't find it at the library. Thanks!