How do I decide which books to buy?

I was wandering my local Barnes and Noble on Sunday when I was asked this question. I thought about it. Then thought some more and realized I have no idea.

That’s only partially true. If I’m reading a series I’m enjoying, then I just continue. There’s the Amazon list of 100 books everyone should read. Sometimes there’s a ton of hype surrounding a book. Some are heavily recommended. And most rarely I’ll just find myself in the bookstore waiting for something to catch my eye. All this to say I have no set way of deciding which books to buy. This likely explains why I have so many books I haven’t yet read. I buy them in a moment of interest and then once the moment passes, so does my willingness to read them.

How do you decide which books to buy?

On Not Reading…Again

I could search through the archives on here and find several posts about not reading. I started the year on an all-time high. I’d finally reached my goal of 50 books in a calendar year. There was no stopping me. Fast forward two months and I haven’t read a single page since mid-January.

At first I was pacing myself. No need to fly through every book in sight. Then life happened. February gave me some phenomenal memories. Then things fell apart. I became distracted by every possible thing, besides my books. But I’ve made a recent decision that will hopefully give me lots of free time in the coming days, weeks, and months. What better to do than get back into a reading groove?

Just have to round the corner and get back into it.

Snow Day Reading

Much of the US is in the midst of a cold snap right at the tail end of winter. Houston is no different. Today is the third time I’ve gotten to see snow in person. But it’s the first time it hasn’t melted away almost immediately.

Do you have any preferred snow day reads?

Giving New Authors a Chance

One thing readers struggle with is finding new authors who aren’t the James Pattersons of the world. It’s so easy to pick up what everyone else already has. It might even make you feel like you’re joining the cool club. But that doesn’t help the little guy.

A few times a year a debut novel will become an instant bestseller. There are plenty of factors behind this, but for every one that’s able to do the impossible, there are dozens that struggle to sell any copies at all. Again, there are many factors that play into when this happens.

What I’ve decided recently is to make a concerted effort to try new authors, specifically debut authors. I’m sure 20 different people could come up with 20 different ways to do this, but my initial plan is simple. The Edgars. The Edgar Awards are awarded annually to the best (mostly) in mystery. It may be a stretch to say they’re the Oscars of mystery books, but not by much. There’s a category for ‘Best First Novel’. I’ll use the category to read debut authors, and I can keep going back year after year if I choose to do so.

January Reading Recap

At the start of the year I decided to set a reasonable pace for my reading and stick to it rather than just seeing what happens. The goal is to avoid the multi-month frenzy I had toward the end of last year. Yes I reached my goal, but I’d prefer to avoid an 11 book December. In January I read four books.

All Quiet on the Western Front

This was my second book set in WWI in recent months. It tells the story from the German perspective. Most notable about this book is that it may be the most antiwar book you ever read. Rated 4 stars.

To Selena, With Love

Chris Perez waited more than a decade to tell his side of their love story. The beauty of this perspective is he isn’t trying to describe the budding superstar, but the person he knew and loved. Rated 5 stars.

D-Day: Minute by Minute

Jonathan Mayo describes the events of D-Day during WWII from first person accounts. Could be a general. Followed by a corporal. Then a journalist. He doesn’t describe it as you’d normally expect, but literally minute by minute. Though different, the format is very well done. Rated 5 stars.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

I have many thoughts and issues with this book I’ll save for another post when I share my review. But for now, rated 1 star.

Those are the books I started the year with. What did you read last month?

Bestsellers and me: All Quiet on the Western Front

Recently read this WWI classic for the first time. The review here is not exactly what’s in the video, but it’s very similar.

The subtitle of this could easily be, “A soldier’s experience in the Great War.”

As an American, so much history is told from the perspective of the West. Most notably, major wars of the 20th century. This flips it. It provides the German perspective.

Though published nearly 100 years ago, so many thoughts from this book would still be valid today. Often Paul, the main character, questions the point of the war altogether. At one point during a discussion with his friends it’s asked how wars start. The response is one country offends another. And this simple, yet poignant message bears truth today.

When reading or learning about war we’re told of the harsh conditions. Often those perspectives come from the winning side, but this tells the story of those same, inhumane conditions from the country also losing the war. It’s impossible for nearly all people to comprehend. Nothing in civilian life can come close.

This is an indictment against those who wish to start wars. So often they’re pointless and accomplish little to nothing. But those responsible for starting the war rarely pay the same price as those they send out to fight. History says Germany lost WW1 and we all know what the Nazis did a short while later. But those men were fighting for their country just the same as their American, Russian, French, and English counterparts. The war was not good for any of them. That’s the point of this story and it does a remarkable job of making its case. 4 stars.

Have you read it? Did you have similar thoughts?

Nearly a Week Off

I wrote previously about taking my time with my reading going forward. For several months now it had been read, read, read all the time. But that’s a recipe for burnout and not reading for six months. No interest in that. So for the last week I’ve been taking it easy. Not reading.

Normally this would likely be the start of a dry period. Sometimes it can last a few weeks and others it can ruin the whole year. But not this time. I felt it was time for a mini break. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?