Ah, this is slightly tricky, I find, because though there are factors that drive me to read a title, I feel like there is a lot of serendipity, feeling and luck in how I find and read books! That being said, I’ve compiled some motivating factors (but perhaps not guaranteed reasons) I pick up a book.
Here they are, in no particular order:
- Review journal recommendations…I have the great luck of getting to read numerous review journals as part of my work as a children’s librarian. I pore over School Library Journal, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books and find a lot of my picks come from these established journals and their respective reviewers
- Author and reviewer feedback…I have particular authors I tend to follow for picks (Vikki VanSickle and Robin Stevens are but two!), as well as bloggers whose perspectives I trust. This is not to say I will not pick up a book without their recommendations, but their positive feedback hugely increases the chance I will read it! It also helps if an author I adore has blurbed a book I’m on the fence about- that will usually lead me to pick that book right up!
- Design/cover art…I feel this to be a stronger pull for children’s titles and YA. I try and keep myself to the ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover rule’, but I have to say that I really appreciate a well-designed, compelling, stand-out cover. From board books to picture books and beyond.
- Previous track record…these are is the must-read, go-to authors! The authors I’ve been reading and enjoying for years OR something by a new author I’ve just read and loved usually indicates that whatever they have brewing next will be an instant read.
- Genre…Ooh, genre! There are many genres I read, to be sure, but certain genres or angles usually indicate whether I will likely read something. Character-driven YA, contemporary or historical middle grade, British crime novels, suspense, Canadian lit in children’s, teens and adult, etc.
- Element of the unusual…I love the out of the norm and/or unexpected and/or oddball FUNNY kinds of read! It’s what drew me to pick up books by authors such as Claire Legrand, Louise Rennison, Don Calame, Susin Nielsen, Teresa Toten, Elinor Lipman, Brenna Yovanoff, Susan Juby, Kate Beaton, Matthew Inman, Julie Halpern…some favourites!
- Draws comparisons to bookish loves of my childhood…books that make me think back to Katherine Paterson, Lois Lowry, Louise Fitzhugh, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Judy Blume, Gordan Korman, are on to my must-read, whatever the genre may be.
- Compelling protagonist or voice…Promise me a protagonist I can root for and want to follow, or a character whose voice is strong, distinct and unforgettable, and I am there.
- Publishers…in the interest of transparency, I have a number of publishers with whom I work regularly, but this did not impact their place here! Some choice picks: Chronicle Books; First Second Books; Scholastic Graphix; Andrews McMeel (for comics!); Crooked Lane Books; House of Anansi/Groundwood Books; Kids Can Press; Tundra Books; Sourcebooks; Penguin Random House Canada; and more! (You’ll notice a lot of Canadian-focused publisher’s here!!)
- Hook in the description…There needs to be that certain something in the book description that immediately captures my attention and imagination. It’s an imprecise science, to be sure, but I oftentimes will read a description and whammo!- will know instinctively it’s something I need to read. Be it a twisted murder mystery, sweeping family saga, or contemporary Canadian coming-of-age, something has to stand out.
What’s on your top ten this week?