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!