Judging a Book.


“When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness.”
~Jules Renard

As a child, one of my very favorite ways to spend an afternoon was by going to the bookstore. I could happily spend hours browsing the shelves at Barnes and Noble, Borders, Dalton Books, or Encore (anyone else remember that one?). There would generally be a towering stack of titles in my hands by the time I was finished, tottering precariously as I made my way over to a table to sort through them and decide which were must-haves. That fresh book smell, that feeling of being surrounded by SO MANY WORDS, that anticipation of choosing which new world to leap into … it was priceless.

Today, there’s the Internet. And (often) cheaper prices online. And free shipping over certain dollar amounts. And Nooks/Kindles/iPads/iPhones. We can, quite literally, have a new book in our hands at the simple touch of a button. It’s efficient. It’s sensible. It’s awesome. I’ll be the first to admit that I buy most of my reading material online, whether it’s a print book or a digital one. But sometimes it’s nice to slip back through the folds of time and go to the bookstore. To physically immerse myself in the possibilities. To see the rows of crisp spines. To smell the coffee at the cafe. To hear the rustling sound of pages being turned. To feel like a kid in a candy shop again. So when I got a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble for my birthday, I didn’t order anything online. I went to the store, wandered up and down the aisles, and let my eyes drift over the countless options. I’d had two specific books in mind, but one wasn’t there and the other was considerably more expensive than if I’d bought it via the website. That means, for the first time in a long time, I had the chance to just browse. To see what caught my attention, to read the jacket copy, to skim the first few pages, to choose a journey that’d be a surprise.

It was FUN. I ended up going with Charity Shumway’s TEN GIRLS TO WATCH, a book I’d never heard of before and one that sounded absolutely intriguing. The cover jumped out immediately (so … the opposite of “don’t judge a book by its cover,” I suppose) and the premise instantly drew me in. Add in the fact that one of my favorite authors blurbed it, and you have a win-win-win situation. I’ve been spending most of my time in Revision Land as of late (one week until the first round of edits is finished, whoohoo!) so the book is still in my to-read pile, but I’m looking forward to diving in.

My question to y’all: how do you judge a book? By its cover? Jacket copy? Blurbs? First sentence or paragraph? And do you still go into stores to buy your word-worlds, or are you exclusively an Internet shopper?

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5 thoughts on “Judging a Book.

  1. Cover > title > jacket copy > first page or so. Word of mouth (or reviews) next, if I have access to that. And I would say that I do about half my book shopping online, half in the store. But the We Heart YA meetings are at Barnes & Noble every week, so we have plenty of opportunity.

    Like you, bookstores (and libraries) make me happy just by being there. There’s magic in the air. :)

  2. Yes! I know exactly where you’re coming from! I always read on my Kindle, order books online, or borrow them from the library. All that is fun, but it’s just not the same as being in a bookstore. I’d almost forgotten, until I had a little time before my flight to California this summer, and I went to Barnes & Noble in search of a book to read (since you can’t read Kindles during liftoff and touchdown). The second I walked in, it was just…electrifying. I had got all shivery and excited. I had the best time walking up and down the aisles, touching all the pretty books, smelling their pages (because, yes, I love the smell of a brand new book), and seeing what subjects are most popular now. So much fun! Glad you found a great book. Hope you love it!

    • Oh, there is nothing quite like the smell of a new book! There are many things I love about my Nook, but I do think they need to somehow add in a feature so it gives off that new-book smell ;-)

  3. Pingback: September Reading « 3kids2cats1divorce

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