To select the first five books that I want to read for 2014, I followed Mark Coker’s study on how ebook buyers discover books.
Surprisingly, or maybe not…word of mouth is still the number one way readers select books.
So my first selection breaks my rules of only reading science fiction because Peter at Powell’s became wildly enthusiastic telling me about The Lies of Locke Lamora by Stephen Lynch. Peter is the science fiction and fantasy expert and lives and breathes books at the number one bookstore in Beaverton. So, when I asked what would be his top pick for me to read….I listen…and listened…and finally grabbed the book he was waving around out of his hand and bought it.
The second method of selecting what to read…is, of course, reading a new book by a favorite author. Often if I like one book in the series, I go on to read the whole series. But for my next choice, I just went with a favorite author who has a new book out.
Besides, I wanted to add military science fiction to the list as it’s a popular genre with my readers. Also, Scalzi has great humor and action. Every book I’ve read of his, I have enjoyed.
Lists are a third way people often select what they read. So I went to Goodreads, Amazon and Google to look at what books are making the 2013 most popular science fiction lists.
Time bound by Rysa Walker struck my fancy because of the subject matter. Also, she won Amazon’s breakout novel award for 2013. Not a bad list to be on. Here is a new author, that is number four on Amazon’s science fiction best selling list and sounds like something I might like.
Getting onto a top selling list is crucial if an author wants to sell a lot of books. Unfortunately, it can be a matter of serendipity. Somehow the story gets the attention of a few readers in a sector, and then a few more, as the word spreads. Next thing that author jumps into a top one hundred list and that propels the book forward. The more lists, the more readers, the more sales. People do check what everyone else is reading. And people love to make lists and share what they like.
So that brings me to number four, which is reviews and story summaries. Once a reader decides he wants to find a book, he may gather several titles that pique his interest. In deciding how to narrow his choices down, he looks first at the cover and then, the story blurb. What is the story about? Does it sound interesting?
I am not a YA reader, but I will cross that line if the story sounds compelling. So a compelling story blurb is important if you want to appeal to readers. Three young adults leaving Earth for various reasons and starting out on a new world appealed to me. So I read the reviews, which for the most part were very positive.
A word on reviews…
I don’t think there’s a book in existence that hasn’t had at least one troll give it a poor review. Even the Bible probably has a review that criticizes the continuity of plot, or lack of depth to certain characters. People have opinions and some give opinions when in a poor frame of mind. That’s life.
However, I do read reviews and consider the comments…and so do a lot of people when making their selections. Time and money is too precious to waste on an awful book and reviews give guidance by people sharing their opinions on what they liked and didn’t like. Taste does vary, but a really good book, one worth reading, often has a majority of readers that like it. So good reviews are important.
And last for this group, The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge. I read this long ago and really liked it. I’m now working on my next novel, Someone’s Clone that uses the viewpoint of a clone. So, I want to revisit this book because of the subject matter.
And that is my fifth reason for selection. Subject matter. If you like time travel, you gravitate towards that. If you like military scifi, that’s where you head. You may wander off course occasionally to try new pastures, but usually the reader will return to his favorite subject matter, and for me that usually means science fiction.
Here are my first five for 2014. I’ll read others, too, as they come along. Sampling the new and grabbing up classics I may have missed.
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Stephen Lynch
Reality Check by Christopher Nuttall
The Human Division by Scalzi. Goodreads list
Time bound by Rysa Walker
Snow Queen Joan DeVinge
For something new with classic science fiction themes, you might take a look at my series and see if one catches your fancy. Check out the right hand panel and get the New Year off to a fun start.