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What am I going to read? (part 2)

baitdogIn the first part of this blog I wrote about how I read (and I’m curious to hear about how other readers are reading these days).

Now I want to talk a little about what I read and how I make choices. Is how I decide how others decide? (Toss me a comment.)

On my reading list right now (ie, books I’ve started):

Why those books?

Bait Dog—I follow Chuck on Twitter and he seems interesting. Whatever he said convinced me to check out his book. I read his Shotgun Gravy (featuring the same character, Atlanta Burns) and liked it. It was the kind of “gritty realism” I like. A little hard, tough characters, not necessarily a happy ending.

Gravity’s Rainbow—A friend of mine is a huge Pynchon fan, and loved Gravity’s Rainbow so much he had the first line tattooed on his leg. I was impressed, and I wanted to see what Pynchon was all about. This friend convinced me to try The Crying of Lot 49 first. I hated it. I think Gravity’s Rainbow is a better story than The Crying of Lot 49, at least so far, but I have a ways to go. It’s dense, but I’m curious enough to keep going.

The Icarus Deception—this is by a popular business and inspirational writer, Seth Godin, who’s widely quoted. I follow him on Twitter and I read his blog almost every day. I don’t like everything he writes, but he does have a lot of positive messages. The Icarus Deception is about how conforming to the rules of the business world isn’t going to bring you success. Instead, he writes that we have to create art (art loosely defined). For me the writing is drier than I expected, so I’m moving slowly through it. I do like the concept, however.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower—This was the book chosen for Week 5 on my Goodreads group, “52 weeks, 52 books.” I like it so far, although it does have a bit of a juvenile feel to it, almost as if the narrator is slow or mentally ill. The movie version of this, which I want to see, had pretty people as the leads. I’ve always been suspicious of movies that cast beautiful people into the roles of misfits. It doesn’t feel real to me. But I knew about the book before the movie came out, and I liked the title.

I consider myself a dabbler in a variety of genres but I especially like realistic stories, plus the occasional magical realism, where a mostly real-life story is infused with a little magic or fantasy. I also like mystery, noir and detective novels; science fiction and fantasy, romance and chick lit, thrillers—anything that’s a good story. I prefer darker stories to fluffy endings, but in either case it has to make sense. I’m not a big horror fan, although I’ve read quite a few Steven King novels.

My choices are about half fiction and half nonfiction. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of business books, books about publishing and writing, books about goal-setting.

I DO download books by strangers, people I follow on social media. It’s very random. Maybe someone tweeted about it at the right time, I liked the cover and I saw no mistakes in the promo copy. One of my pet peeves is an author trying to sell his work without bothering to proofread the sales copy. It leaves me anticipating a book loaded with mistakes, and so I usually pass.

Someone might convince me to buy his book, or I’ll decide to read a book on the bestseller list. But just as often I’ll pick a book at random off the library shelves, based on its cover. Another reason I’ll read a book is because it’s considered a classic and it’s on some top 100 list. I read “Moby Dick” for the first time just last year. It was one of those ones you “should” read. ‘Nuff said.

If I had to list the top reasons for picking a book, I’d say:

  1. The cover appeals to me and the back cover or flap copy seals the deal.
  2. Someone suggests I might like it.
  3. I’m trying to impress someone.
  4. The book is just there and I start reading it (like when I’m visiting my family).
  5. Someone talks about it on social media.
  6. I like the author.
  7. It’s a book about something I want to learn or get better at (nonfiction).

I pay less attention to the bestseller list than I should. Books are on the list for a reason and it’s mostly because they are good stories, but sometimes it’s just because they are a known entity.

I periodically ask followers on Twitter to suggest a good blog or a good book to me. I tell them to brag about their own book. I rarely get takers on this. I don’t know if people are just shy, or don’t think they need the extra publicity, or feel I have an ulterior motive, but I never get many takers. I do have an ulterior motive; I want to connect with people and I want to find something new and good to read. The last really good fiction book I read was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Who’s got a good suggestion for a book that I’ll love?