Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Take Your Pick

by Jeanette O'Hagan


If I made a stack of all the books in my to-read pile — both virtual and real — it would probably look something like the leaning tower of Pisa.

I have 143 books listed on my Goodreads to-Read pile alone  — and there a swathe of e-books on my Kindle and the six or seven stacks of print books dotted around my bedroom all waiting for their turn. 

It hasn’t always been so. I can remember the days when I finished one book and would wonder what to read next. Despite my mammoth to-read pile, I’m still discovering new books to read and enjoy.

How about you — are you scratching about, wondering what to read next, or does your to-read pile grown ever higher like Jack’s beanstalk?

Thinking about my to-read pile got me wondering about how I find new books and how /what criteria I use to decide what to read next.

The Time honoured and the New

Browsing — I love browsing in book stores, picking up books, looking at their covers, flipping open their pages, soaking up the ambience of store. In fact, I find it hard not to leave a bookstore without at least a couple of purchases. Which is why I was devastated when the Word Bookstores closed down recently — and now the ABC shops are going the same way — and why I was excited to hear about the opening of the Little Gnome book store relatively nearby to me. Somehow browsing online is just not the same. Plus, online doesn't do coffee.

Secondhand bookstores — often hiding old treasures long forgotten or niche books you wouldn’t find anywhere else. There’s the Lifeline Bookfest — but also thrift shops and shops that will swap your old books for their old ones.

My favourite authors — having discovered a good author or a great series – I love tracking down their books in bookstores and libraries. At the moment, I'm keeping an eye out for books by Jodie Picoult.

The local library – now my children are no longer toddlers or preschoolers likely to attract the gimlet glare of the librarian for disturbing the peace, I feel safe enough to return to my local library and browse its aisles or return trolleys. I’ve found some Dee Henderson and Karen Kingsley as well as Neil Gaiman in our local library – and I know that the Toowomba library stocks Paula Vince J

Recommendations and/or gifts from friends and family — My family gave me I am Malala for Christmas. My kids introduced me to Emily Rodda and her series of books while my sister and I often exchange books — introducing each other to new authors to hunt down and devour (er – the books, not the authors).

Book Clubs — in one former book club I went to, we talked about (and exchanged) the books we were reading. I discovered Geraldine Brooks and Ahn Do among others. In another book club, we read set books each month and discuss them. Some of the books have been fantastic —The Book Thief for instance — at other times, it’s been more of a challenge to read (Welcome to Normal comes to mind) — but each time I've learnt something.

Movies — yes, I’ll admit that sometimes I first learn about a book when if comes out as a movie — The Hunger Games, for instance, or, maybe I’ve heard of it, but it’s only after watching the movie that I more actively search out the book — as with John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

Review sites — like GoodReads — or blog review sites like Soul Inspirationz, Rel's Reviews,  Iola's Christian Reads or The Vince Review. Sometimes sites offer giveaways or Advanced Review Copies (ARC). Light the Dark website is another great place to look for books.  

GoodReads Listopia —  has lists of books under almost any topic you can think of — like this. I discovered Turn Right at Machu Picchu in the library, then looked at Listopia to find other, similar books such as Eight Feet in the Andes, which I’m enjoying reading at the moment.

Offering to review or critique books — I’ve enjoyed reading a number of books this way – including Imogen’s Chance and Mark’s Strength. I like to support local authors and have discovered a great many enjoyable books and great authors at the books tables of Christian Writer’s conferences or interaction with other authors. Sites like ACRBA, Netgallery or (recently) Rhiza Press may give new releases for honest reviews.

Searching Amazon or the internet for a specific title or subject — I found a great book on world-building by searching Google and then used my Mother’s Day voucher to purchase it from Amazon. But, this is my least likely source of new reads.

I try to rotate my reading, alternating between books set for book club, recommendations of mainstream and Christian fiction, writing craft, and non-fiction books from family, friends, review sites and dipping into offerings discovered through network of local and Christian authors. I usually review the books I read on my GoodReads page.

So, there really is no need to be at loss for reading material. 

How big is your to-read pile and where do you find the books you read?


Jeanette O'Hagan has recently had a short story published in the general market Tied in Pink Anthology  (profits from the anthology go towards Breast Cancer research) and two poems in the PoeticaChristi’s Inner Child anthology. She has practiced medicine, studied communication, history and theology and has taught theology.  She cares for her children, has just finished her Masters of Arts (Writing) at Swinburne University and is writing her Akrad's fantasy fiction series.  You can read some of her short fiction here


You can find her at her Facebook Page or websites  JennysThread.com or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes .

16 comments:

  1. LOL, my paper book pile is big enough. Add in the ones in my Kindle and on my Goodreads shelf, and I'd be living like one of those hoarders, creeping through tunnels in rooms packed ceiling high with books!

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    1. I know what you mean Autumn though I still find myself buying or borrowing more books :)

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  2. Great post, Jeanette. my book pile is more a virtual one (i.e. it's in my head) and I rarely read the next one that I thought I would read. Something else comes along. My unread books sit at the front of my bookshelves and wave at me asking to be the next read.

    And like many of us my Kindle is just out of control. When you can buy great books for less than a dollar its hard not to become an e-hoarder.

    What's my greatest source of reading material? It would still be favourite authors. I have so many these days in both fiction & non-fiction, I simply can't keep up. However, review sites like Rel's and her blogging buddies tempt me most weeks with newbies to sample. I read more non-fiction and anything relating to particular topics of interest will tempt me. So books on prayer have been a hot potato for me this past year.

    BTW, One book in your pile grabbed my attention … but you've read it?

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    1. That's so true about Kindle prices though I find I tend to read the print books first - perhaps because they are more visible.

      Good spotting. Yes, your book was in the pile. I confess, I have read (and reviewed) it, so it's not strictly 'to-read' - and if I'd piled up all my to-read books it would have been a much taller stack (maybe 3-4x taller) - so the photo was more symbolic that accurate lol.

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  3. My 'to read' book pile is only three books high at the moment--but that's because I have deliberately worked on it in recent weeks! And re your question about where I find the books I read, lately, because I am a little in 'culling' mode, I have gone back to my own shelves and chosen to re-read some old favourites--what a joy! As well though, I tend to watch for new books from my favourite authors or do it the old-fashioned way and browse those shelves in bookstores. Have just come back from our local Christian bookstore, where I bought Carol Preston's new book 'Next of Kin'! Also this week, I bought Rita Galieh's new book 'The Tie That Binds' from her website. That was because I know both of them personally and also read about their books online recently--perhaps even on this blog?

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    1. Wow Jo-Anne - only 3 books. That is some serious reading you've done lately :) And yes, how could I forget re-reading the old favourites from one's own bookshelves. I loved doing this with my daughter, introducing her to the classics I loved as a child or teen. The ACW blog does have reviews and recent releases so it's another good way of finding about new books to read.

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  4. Thanks for the shout-out, Jeanette.

    As it happens, I think my to-read pile is about the same size as yours ... down to the number of books on my Goodreads To Read list!

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    1. LOL what a co-incidence. We both must be avid readers :) And my pleasure Iola :)

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  5. After we moved early this year I actually put all my to-read books on one shelf and discovered there were about 35 books. I was a bit horrified so I decided not to buy anymore until I had it down to a respectable level (like Jo-Anne!). But alas earlier this month I happened to be in a town that had a Koorong Store and wondered in. I left with two more books! Browsing Christian book shops is where I find most of my reading material. Or asking my daughter to buy me books I see at Christian bookshops!

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    1. Hi Susan - that sounds like a disciplined approach to reducing the to-read pile. I think you did well to leave the bookstore with just two books :) I do think that is my favourite way to find new authors.

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  6. I love this post! It inspired me to find all the books I intend to read and stick them on one or two or three big piles and slowly work my way through them. As it is, these books are scattered all throughout the home, on shelves, in baskets, in bedside drawers, in the garage, in storage and so on. Well, I've just found them (in my mind) and next will physically locate them and make three or more neat heaps to work through. I like that idea! Thank you for sharing Jeanette.

    To answer your other question; my children and I used to go to library sales and come away with boxes filled with books. Rotary sales, Koorong, Amazon, any bookshop anywhere, and so on.

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    1. I'm thrilled he post inspired you, Mimi :) I thinking I probably need to sort my to-read pile too. Library sales are a great way to get pre-loved books. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. Jeanette, great post! Before I bought my first Kindle from Amazon in the US, I used to have 2 or 3 wishlists connected to my library account. The maximum number of books per list was something like 50, and I always had 100+ library books in total on my wish lists. I'd browse the library shelves and keep adding books to the list as fast as I read them. I'd join the long queues for the new releases books from the library and I'd check out the online library monthly new book arrival lists. I'd search the library database for books by favourite authors and new authors I wanted to try. I'd buy print books from Koorong, both in-store and online, and I'd worked out that an order of around 10-15 ebooks from CBD in the US was the optimal number to minimise the per book postage charges for the books I couldn't buy in Australia. For many years I had an international subscription with the Harlequin Reader Service in the US for the Love Inspired line. My tbr list has always been overflowing. It has now evolved into a different form that's primarily made up of Kindle and epub titles, plus a few too many print books that require storage space. :)

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    1. Thanks Narelle

      I can see you are a voracious book reader. I usually find I borrow more books than I can read in the time. One good thing about a electronic or kindle to-read list is it doesn't take up some much floor space though I find I sometimes forget what I have in there. But when it comes down to it, I don't think you can really have too many books :)

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  8. Your list includes my favourite ways of adding to my TBR list too. That's why they get so huge, so quickly :) Since you mentioned receiving critique books, I have to say that I appreciated your feedback on Imogen's Chance very much. Listopia is a source I don't consider as much as I should, so thanks for the reminder. And finding out about the Toowoomba library is wonderful. I've only been in that city once, so how great that my books are on their shelves.

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    1. Thanks Paula. I've been enjoying your reviews on Vince Reviews and have added a few titles to my to-read list as a result. As you say, 'That's why they get so huge, so quickly.' :)

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