Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.

How Do You Choose a Book?


For those of you who follow my other blog which is mainly for readers and writers, this post is a duplicate of the one I am posting on annelisplace.com today. If you are interested in posts about writing, reading, and copy-editing, you might like to click to follow annelisplace.com.

I don’t post there as frequently as I do on wordsfromanneli, but you might find some of the posts on annelisplace interesting, so please follow if you like to read or write.

Here is today’s post with some ideas about choosing a book to read.


In a bookstore, I hate to admit it but I judge a book by its cover. But let me qualify that. I only let that be my first criterion. Still, for writers out there, hoping to sell a book, that first impulse of the reader to pick up a book with an intriguing cover can add a lot to your sales, so make sure you get a great cover for your book.

Next, I like to read the flap on the jacket, or the back cover if it’s a paperback. I want to be drawn into the subject of the book and have a taste of the dilemma the characters find themselves in without having the ending spoiled for me. Just a teaser is all I want.

Then, if I think this subject might be something for me, I will read the opening sentence, and maybe as much as the first page or two. That will tell me most of what I need to know.

If I’m browsing for an e-book and I’m on a site like Amazon or Smashwords, I will click on the book cover where it says “Look Inside.”

This is where I make my decision.

Does the opening sentence hook me right away? Is it relevant to the plot of the story? Beware of the amateur opening sentences that begin the scene with:

  • the alarm clock going off
  • someone waking from a dream
  • someone driving by in a vehicle and describing the scenery
  • the narrator talking about the weather and telling you “It was a dark and stormy night.”

How does the author handle dialogue? Are there too many fancy, distracting words that  replace “said” and “asked”? If I see words like “inquired,” “responded,” “explained,” “answered,” “replied,” “questioned,” and “announced,” I will reluctantly leave that book for someone else to suffer through.  Even if the author uses the standard “said” and “asked” to move the story along more efficiently, if these words are followed by adverbs, I am also turned off. Once in a while, it is acceptable, but not as a general rule. It becomes tiresome to read:

  • “How did that happen?” she asked angrily.
  • “I have no idea,” he said, innocently.

The only thing that could make it worse is to have a gerund added into the mix:

  • “How did that happen?” she asked angrily, bunching up her fists on her hips.
  • “I have no idea,” he said, innocently, rolling his eyes.

These are clues you will find easily in the first few pages of a book. If you notice these examples of poor writing, you can still flip a few pages and check to see if the pattern continues. If it does, you will probably be glad if you give that book a pass and look for something else to read.

There are many other clues you might look for to see if you might like a book, but in this post I have tried to mention a few of the main ones that I look for.

How do you decide on your next book to read?  Do you have some ideas you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comment section.


Author: wordsfromanneli

Writing, travel, photography, nature, more writing....

26 thoughts on “How Do You Choose a Book?

  1. If I’m browsing books and see one I might like, I’ll often Google a review. I have many unread books at the moment, but I will eventually get to them.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I do it about the same way like you do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Anneli,
    as a former owner of several highstreet bookshops I noticed that about 50% of the readers have decided which book they want to buy BEFORE they enter the bookshop. Reviews, talkshows etc. are very important for the sales. As an author I had a privat PR adviser and the PR department of my publishers to organise these. On the other hand, the first pages, backcover etc. are very important for the other half of the customers of a bookshop.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree that the marketing of the book, the publicizing on radio talk shows are hugely helpful in bringing the customers to the book, but, as you said, the other 50% will judge the book by its cover and the logline if they haven’t heard about the book from another source.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I hate to admit it but I’ve sometimes bought wine because of the picture on the label! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It certainly worked for me – sometimes. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I totally agree. Openers for chapters are a big peeve of mine, if they’re bad. In my writing group I’m the stickler for better openers. I want to be pulled in.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting post, Anneli!
    When a cover catches my eye, I’ll pick up a book and give it a quick look. If its poorly written I can usually spot it in the first page or two.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I have many books
    .usually I read more during the winter.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Anneli,
    when I go to a bookstore, I usually already know which book i want to buy. For example, I read as many books as possible by a certain author whose writing style I like a lot.
    For example, at the moment I like reading crime novels from scandinavia. For a while I liked to read books that were written in winter, for example books from alaska or by authors from alaska or greenland. I also often talk to friends about books.
    But sometimes I just stroll through the bookstore and let myself be inspired by the first sentences, the cover or the synopsis.
    Anneli, I wish you all the best!
    Greetings from Rosie – from Germany

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out!” – Snoopy

    I gravitate towards authors whom I already ”know’, but if considering something new, I will read the first page or so. If it’s non-fiction and I really need to research a topic, I will be more forgiving towards writing quality, provided the author has demonstrated their honesty and credibility.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m a cover junkie, Anneli. Such a sucker for a reader’s eye-candy. And I follow the same decision making sequence as you do. When reading the “look inside” I also tend to notice sensory filter words (she/he saw, thought, knew, felt, heard) – those drive me crazy. And I’m heading over the Anneli’s Place. I think I lost track of your other site and will follow again. 🙂 I love your writing advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for this! I agree with almost all of it. The only thing for me is that in a bookstore I usually am guided by classifications first (mysteries, for example) or sales on the big tables. Then my eye is caught by books they are trying to push, but only if the like the cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. If it’s a new author, I judge by the “look inside.” If it can keep my attention in that small span of time, I’ll check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s