What draws you to pick up a book you’ve never seen or heard of before?

I have to admit, I found this question somewhere and had to post it on my blog because I’m dying to know everyone’s responses. The reason? I am a total book snob… well, sort of. I only ever pick up books if they’ve been recommended to me, or if they’re popular, or at the top of a Goodreads Listopia list. I’ve read a lot of awful books in my time and I like to know what I’m getting into before I actually start reading.

What draws you to pick up books you’ve never seen or heard of before?

I sometimes see a book in the bookstore or online that is in a certain genre that I’ll research. But I’ll always check ratings and see what other people think before I start. I like to read what other people are reading, to see what works and what makes a book trend.

How about you?

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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92 Responses to What draws you to pick up a book you’ve never seen or heard of before?

  1. Meg says:

    In this order: blurby blurbs on the back or inside, dimensions of the book (I like odd-sized books), paper, cover art. I picked up “I Was Amelia Earhart” that way. One of my favorite books.

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  2. Meg says:

    In this order: blurby blurbs on the back or inside, dimensions of the book (I like odd-sized books), paper, cover art. I picked up “I Was Amelia Earhart” that way. One of my favorite books.

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  3. barn7777 says:

    To be honest, The title and sometimes cover will draw my interest. In fact, that’s how I discovered some favorite authors of mine and great stories 🙂

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  4. I never go to the book store to find something to read. I always go with a book in mind. Usually it’s a spiritual book I’ve seen Oprah recommend or something I’ve seen in the paper. I’ll also download the audio so I can listen and take notes while I’m reading along. I’m sad to say that I’m a lazy reader.

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  5. mincs1 says:

    I usually go to a bookstore with a book in mind but a cover can catch my interest and a good write up on the back or inside jacket can seal the deal to make me part with my money 🙂

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  6. I don’t really read things people recommend me, mostly because when they do they tell me how good it is and how much they like it and how much they think I will like it.
    I’m very fickle. Don’t try telling me you know I’m gonna like it. I will just hate it on purpose now.
    So I pick books by title mostly, unless they are Stephen King or Joe Hill. Then I will read it no matter what.
    I refuse to read what’s popular, mostly because I hate hyped things.
    Man…
    I sound like such a hipster… I’m not, I swear…

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  7. sjoycarlson says:

    Lately, it’s been like top YA lists. Not going to lie, sometimes it’s cover art that draws me in.

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  8. I picked up a book today that I knew nothing about. Browsed it, checked the price, and put it back on the bookstore shelf. Not at that price. And that, I guess is part of the calculation. We can’t afford, mostly, to take risks wirh our reading when it is paid for in very hard earned cash.

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  9. I’m definitely the type of person that reads a lot of things that are recommended by others and are at the top of best sellers list. I also tend to judge a book by its cover. If the cover looks exciting and interesting then I’m more likely to read it because I don’t love to read the blurbs because I don’t want to judge it by the story since that the piece they decided to share. I also find myself in Barnes and Noble or Amazon constantly just looking through all the different books. Trying to decide what I want to read next.

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  10. Likestarfilledskies says:

    I don’t usually read what everyone else is reading. All the hot new books out right now I haven’t even touched. All of my favorite books have been ones I’ve selected at random on the library shelf because they had a cool title. Or were .69 at the thrift store and looked interesting.

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  11. This is the problem as an indie/new author, because I’m exactly the same as you! But I do sometimes find myself really drawn to a cover, and then if the blurb of the cover hooks me I’ll take a chance on it. I’ve been burned a few times, but not any more often than being told I HAVE to read this great new book by a friend and then not enjoying it, so it all works out.

    I’ve also found through my internet wandering that if I like an author via blog or forum (and they write in a genre I enjoy) I’ll check out their stuff.

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  12. krystal jane says:

    I pick up books with pretty covers. ^_^ I also take recommendations from people with similar interests. But I never commit to reading anything unless I like the blurb AND some random page in the middle. If I open the book and roll my eyes, nothing else matters, I put it back. It’s a, what are the odds I just happened to see the stupidest sentence in the whole book? So, pretty covers first.

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  13. M T McGuire says:

    I’ll notice a well designed cover first and I’ll take it home if the blurb looks good. I sometimes read friend’s recommendations, too. If something’s really trending it tends to put me off. I’m perverse like that.

    Cheers

    MTM

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  14. Rebecca says:

    For me it is the title and synopsis, sometimes in combination with the cover art and/or first few pages. I rarely go by ratings, reviews, or popularity. Strangely enough, raging popularity is often a turn-off for me. To this day I have not read a single Harry Potter book (even though I’m often told it is probably something I would like). I’ll also sometimes go by recommendations from a friend with similar interests.

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  15. tonygraff12 says:

    I need to see something I think is new. If the cover or the blurb about the book feels like I’ve heard it before, then there’s little desire to read the book until a trusted friend recommends it. But, throw in a mix of new ideas, find two ideas and cross them together, then you’re starting to spark my interest.

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  16. Gerri says:

    LOVE the cat video! I pick books from recommendations, the pictures on the covers, the words in the title, the blurb on the back, the Kindle reviews. In other words, I find a treasure trove of stories in many different ways!

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  17. Sierra says:

    I’m pretty much the opposite – if a book is popular, or has been recommended to me, or is at the top of any list anywhere, I assume it’s generally a piece of shit and shy away from it because, let’s be honest, what does the hoi polloi know about good books? They all pick crap, amirite?

    Or I might just be the most cynical little troop there ever was. :]

    Usually, it’s a tie between an awesome title and an awesome cover that does it for me. And I don’t mean pretty white girls in dresses, either. God, I’ve had enough of those…

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  18. j1m says:

    i’m probably more intrigued by a book or author i’ve never heard of than one i know, or one that’s being talked about.

    as for covers, OBVIOUSLY the ABSOLUTE BEST covers are simple… maybe even plain… with just the title & author’s name on a green, red or blue background… 🙂

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  19. Just two pick a book up… subject matter. Wolves, history, Vikings, occult, unusual fantasy or scifi. That’s if I don’t already know the author.

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  20. sunshinetree says:

    Generally a cover will pull me in. A great cover will always cause me to pick up a book 🙂 Otherwise recommendations from coworkers and friends are one of the big ways I find new books to read. And of course from reviews on the book blogs I follow.

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  21. uppitymonkey says:

    A good blurb that gives me a good idea of what the story will be about – without spoiling too much, obviously – and entices me to give it a try.
    That being said, I’ll also go for anything written by authors I am a big fan of, such as Gemmell, Pratchett, Lawhead, etc.

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  22. pauljgies says:

    I have to say that there is so much sheer craaahp out there (in ANY genre) that I tend to read the critics, then the first page, then a middle page, another middle page, back to the second page, a sentence here and there, the critics again, then the third page… maybe even the first page of the next book in the series. Lynn Kurland’s “Star of the Morning” was pretty good, but the third book of the trilogy just. Plain. Stank. So… sigh. Who knows. Why can’t people just get the fluff out of their mouths and tell good stories with characters I like?

    Of course if the byline is, say, JK Rowling or HP Lovecraft or Raymond Chandler or JRR Tolkien or Dashiell Hammett or… then we’re good no matter what. Oh. Or Pratchett, yes.

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  23. pauljgies says:

    Didn’t someone say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?

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  24. jguenther5 says:

    Catchy title is #1. Good cover art #2. A compelling first page close behind.

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  25. A quick scan of the cover and the synopsis does it for me. I don’t like checking out reviews for books before I read them since it could set up expectations and ruin the experience

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  26. I have to admit I pretty much read any book I come across. If it’s good, I’m in heaven, if it’s bad, I use it as a learning experience on how not to write. Great article, Jodie.

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  27. Kevin says:

    Any of the following: cover design, title that looks interesting, familiar author.

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  28. If someone recommends a book to me, I’ll usually pick it up eventually. There have only been a couple of times when I have been disappointed in that. But for the most part (and I know we’re told to never do this), it’s if the cover interests me. I’ve ended up being disappointed in that quite a few times, so I’m thinking that it’s something I should quit doing. Other times it’ll be a blurb from an author that I really like, and I’ve only had one upset from that, so I deem it a pretty good system.

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  29. thisbrooks says:

    I’ll admit I judge a book by its cover. I see something that catches my eye, whether it be a clever picture or an even more clever title, and I check out the first chapter. I also play bookshelf roulette sometimes, just to change things up.

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  30. Joseph Nebus says:

    My interest in nonfiction tends to be just pointing out something I hadn’t really thought about before: competitive walking, for example, or the history of Muzak, or why American houses have lawns, to give a couple recent manias. So in that case it’s most effective to grab my interest just by pointing out how the world’s more textured than I had paid attention to before.

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  31. lonnietalouise says:

    The title,or the cover .I enjoy a good read.And plus we can never judge a book by it’s cover,literally. 🙂

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  32. Myth says:

    Reblogged this on The Hermit and commented:
    That is an interesting question. I suppose the answer is that my favorite authors take too long to write so I go book hunting. I love going into a book store and browsing for something new and interesting, which is a good thing given how much I read. I don’t care if it is an unknown writer or it is their first book. If I read the back and the plot intrigues me then I will flip it open and read a few lines… if those lines have a good tone to them, then I’ll get it. And it is true I have found a few that have disappointed me but I have found a lot of good reads and a lot of awesome ones. And a great deal in the middle there somewhere. Very few flunk right out. I never pick a book because it is highly recommended by the media. The few times I have those books have been very disappointing. Really didn’t get why they were so appealing to be honest. Can I just say Da Vinci Code. I will take the recommendations of people on Goodreads for example. If I am shopping for a Kindle book I always find it harder to know what I am getting than browsing in real life, so I may want to see what others have said about the author or series first. But if you go solely on reviews you would never try authors out. So sometimes I’ll give an author a go on the first book they have. If I quite enjoy it then I will read through the entire series like fire. And be sad when I am done.

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  33. flightdoc says:

    Your question is very appropriate for an author and frustrating for me, because I realize that I tend to get into a rut and NOT look for new books and new authors. WOW, if I don’t then how can I expect others to pick up my book and read it? I get comfortable with Nicholas Sparks and John Grisham, Michael Crichton, and Tom Clancy.

    More often than buying books I browse my local library website for books to download and listen to. Okay I know, it is considered cheating to some, but I get more “read” by listening than by trying to read in bed (and falling asleep). I see hundreds of covers and titles and am only drawn to new authors occasionally. It is really about cover and title, then I read the description. I’m not big on romance or horror so mystery and occasionally sci fi will tweak my fancy. I loved the “Cat Who” books, so comedic fiction will sometimes get a nod. For non-fiction the sky’s the limit. I like biography and military history especially and will throw in one of those from time to time. That is all about content, though I have favorites among some non-fiction authors as well.

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  34. crzydjm says:

    I am, for lack of a better cliché, “an open book”. I will read just about anything if it sounds/looks interesting. My to-be-read list on Goodreads is infinite.

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  35. Shauna says:

    I pick up anything that catches my attention. That generally starts with either the title or the cover (yes I know, you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but covers certainly help attract my attention!) If I read the summary and it sounds interesting, I’m generally willing to give it a try (or at least download a sample/mark it as to read on Goodreads).

    I find a lot of interesting things that way at work (I work at a library). You never know what’s going to come over the desk!

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  36. lnahay says:

    I rarely rarely read a book that is recommended. And have never read something that is a current tend: no Harry Potter, Ganged of Thrones, Hunger Games etc (I stumbled upon Twilight in the grocery store years before it was rumored to become a movie). I like reading books that I discover by accident. I started reading the All Souls trilogy because I loved the blue of the first book’s cover. Saw it from down the aisle at Target. I don’t really read reviews much anymore. I read a lot of unknown and Indie, just because we’re in the same boat. My most favorite finds, no one else is talking about yet (Daughter of Smoke and Bone. … Loved it! The Orchardist. The Scribe. Yesterday Road. The Dollmaker.) All accidental discoveries. Something in the cover or title screamed my name. Or, laughed at a post Yesterday Road’s author wrote on his blog. So I bought his book. And The Dollmaker’s author posted a small ad in a Facebook group. No one liked the post, so I bought the book. Awesome reads, both of them.

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  37. I’m a sucker for an interesting blurb. Actually any association with the word “interesting” is pretty much guaranteed to sell me a book. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer being the primary example. Otherwise, if a friend or fellow blogger is bringing out a book, I try to buy it and read it. And review it, of course. 😀

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