The “How I Choose my Books” Tag

In a word: cover.

Although, upon further examination, that’s not always true.

A book has to have an interesting cover (and title) for me to pick it up, but neither of those things guarantees that I’ll read it.

This tag lets me explain what draws me to certain books.

 

Find a book on your shelves with a blue cover. What made you pick up the book in the first place?

I had MANY blue books to choose from.

I bought Echo last minute on a girls’ trip to Powell’s a few years ago.

Image result for echo pam munoz ryan
See that raised seal? I love mixed textures.

I’d retreated to the children’s section to finalize my purchases (and do some tax-free math) when I saw it.

I loved the blue and red combo and the title reminded me of the movie “Earth to Echo” that had come out a few years prior.

Also, the description promised adventures in a magical world.

I hate it when kids in books go on stressful real-life adventures, e.g., “We have to save the forest from a band of developers!” or, “We have to protect these puppies from my kill-happy grandpa!”

I read children’s lit for the wondrous excitement not yet tainted by real-world trauma.

Unfortunately…I didn’t pay any attention to the book’s author.

You might remember Pam Muñoz Ryan as the woman who disguised historical fiction as horse literature.

That could be why I’ve neglected reading Echo the last few years.

 

Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

(I just found out there are 5 books in this series, so…neat.)

Image result for natural history of dragons marie brennan

My friend Claire was angry when she handed me this book.

We were in her car in the Central Washington University parking lot, trading books before I caught a bus back to Seattle.

“Here.” She thrust the book at me. “I don’t know what I was expecting…but it wasn’t this. I never want to see this book again.”

I always like hearing positive reviews from friends.

Why DID I read this book?

I trust Claire, even though our reading tastes differ.

When we trade books, I challenge myself to see what she sees.

I wanted to know how bad this book really was.

The book turned out to be an alternate history/romantic adventure novel, something I enjoy. Some of the book’s statements about marriage and womanhood really resonated with me.

Also – and this is a particularity of mine – there was just enough worldbuilding as to be interesting, but not so much that I had to sift through pages of fake history to find the plot.

I should also mention that I love when novels employ the Literary Agent Hypothesis. It adds an extra level of realism I appreciate.

 

Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book?

Let me trot on over to my SERIOUS bookshelf for a second.

(My other bookshelf contains mostly romance books; that’s not a topic I feel like discussing.)

Elliott Bay kept this book on display for six months.

With the bright yellow cover, I couldn’t miss it.

(I’d also like to say I first noticed this book while on a date, which AT THE TIME seemed like a good sign.)

Image result for chemistry weike wang

One of the electrons is a heart. ALSO a good sign!

(It was not.)

Romantic failure aside, I empathized with the protagonist’s existential flailings after she drops out of her PhD program.

(This was pre-depression diagnosis. Picking up this book was one of the more obvious signs.)

 

Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

My dad passed me his copy of Every Song Ever by Ben Ratliff.

This book, unlike the cerebral music books he’s lent me before, consists of essays about the types of communication achieved by stylistic choices.

Image result for every song ever ben ratliff

Funnily enough, I was the one to buy this for my dad a couple Christmases ago, hoping I could borrow the book once he finished.

I like Ratliff’s aesthetic approach; he has so far resisted treating music as science and humans as machines.

I might just finish this one.

 

Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

I discovered this book on a blog I love.

Image result for girls of paper and fire

Per May’s review, the book discussed f/f romance and sexual assault in a fantasy context.

Not only do I love fantasy (for the most part), both of those issues are close to my heart. I bought the special edition at a Barnes & Noble in Minnesota.

Did the book live up to the hype, though?

Yes and no.

I loved Natasha Ngan’s writing. She gives an appropriate amount of worldbuilding and backstory before kicking off the plot. Protagonist Lei fights real threats and fears for her safety.

By PAGE 60, Lei is ensconced in the world of the Paper Girls, an elite group of concubines forced to serve the Demon King.

THAT’S HOW YOU START A NOVEL, Y’ALL.

The book builds to Lei’s first encounter with the Demon King and slowly establishes a romance between Lei and another Paper Girl.

About 200 pages in, the plot took a turn I didn’t like.

Let me be clear: I enjoyed this book for the most part.

Around page 200, though, the book turns into resistance literature.

I have two theories:

  • I’m weary of resistance literature after 10+ years of dystopian young adult fantasy
  • The “Let’s start a revolution!” plot device resonates more strongly with the target demographic, which I aged out of YEARS ago

The book ended with a sequel hook, something that DRIVES ME CRAZY in the best of cases.

Natasha Ngan deserves all the praise she’s received for this book.

I just expected it to go a different direction.

 

Find a book on your shelves with a one word title. What drew you to this book?

Confession #1: I love E. Lockhart.

Confession #2: I wish I’d gone to theater camp as a teen.

Image result for dramarama book

It’s too late for me to fulfill that dream.

I will gladly live Sadye’s drama camp experience…though, if drama camp really is about hook-ups, lame guys, and disappointment, maybe it’s good I never went.

 

What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?

Fun fact: there’s a lost CW pilot for The Selection starring Petra from “Jane the Virgin” floating around the internet.

The show turned Maxon into a bad boy. I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT IT.

Anyway, that’s not my answer; I just needed more people to know.

I watched A Winter’s Tale on a plane to Morocco? From Morocco? It doesn’t matter.

What matters it that movie is dumb as hell.

IT SHOULDN’T BE, THOUGH. IT HAD ALL THE ELEMENTS.

Let me tick them off: romance, reincarnation, redheads, magic horses, AN IRISH ANGEL (or demon?), THE DEVIL (played by Will Smith, of ALL people.)

I later learned that Mark Helprin’s A Winter’s Tale is considered one of the best, most important books of all time.

Image result for mark helprin winter's tale
HORSE LITERATURE!

Apparently, the movie left out important details. For instance, the horse is actually a dog, who’s actually Canus Major or Minor or…something.

I have to experience the madness for myself.

 

Think of your all-time favourite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?

YIKES. I hate questions like these. It’s SO MUCH PRESSURE.

I’ll give a brief rundown of my (current) top 5:

  • Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races
    I bought this book the month it came out at an independent bookstore in Ellensburg my first year of college. I first noticed the horse on the cover (old habits die hard.)
    The shop owner saw me holding it and said, “THAT BOOK IS SO PERFECT! I HAVEN’T FINISHED IT YET!”
    I read the book in my dorm room as the air turned cold.
  • Lauren Graham’s Someday, Someday, Maybe
    I saw this book at Barnes and Noble on a birthday trip to Olympia. I was intrigued by both the plot and the cover, but was skeptical of the celebrity author.
    To extend my birthday celebration (and spend some birthday cash), I ordered a bunch of books, including this one, off of Amazon.
    Listen – it was only $8 and it popped up in my recommendations. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
  • Lucy Knisleys’ Something New
    I used to spend my afternoons salivating over books at Kinokuniya.
    I noticed this book during a period where all of my friends were either married or in new relationships. It helps that I’m already obsessed with weddings and graphic novels…and here was a graphic novel about WEDDINGS.
    The blurb described Knisley going from single to engaged in one day…and I had to know how that had happened.
    I turned to a random page to find out. Instead of finding out, I read Knisley’s story of stealing cat figurines from a craft store to use as wedding cake toppers.
  • Katie Heaney’s Would You Rather?
    I didn’t realize I’d been waiting for a follow up to Never Have I Ever until I saw this sequel at Powell’s.
    Originally, I grabbed the book from the featured Memoirs because of the subtitle (“A Memoir of Growing up and Coming out.”)
    Wait, this is a Katie Heaney book!?
    I try to limit the number of new books I buy at Powell’s because of the cost.
    I threw this one in my basket without a second thought.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed
    I go through times where I obsess about relationships and/or marriage. In the fall of 2016, I checked out ALMOST EVERY BOOK from the Seattle Library’s marriage and relationship section. This book was one of them.
    I wouldn’t have picked this book up if I hadn’t read and loved Gilbert’s Big Magic.
    Gilbert had gotten me through a period of writer’s block. I could trust her to walk me through marriage.

 

I found this tag at the excellent blog Reading Every Night. Go read that post and, if you’re interested, tag yourself in this one. I give you permish.

In the interest of a paycheck, I should probably go to work or something.

(So glad to have my laptop back.)

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