Discussion: How Do You Decide Which Books to Read?

Photo credit: Simon Cocks on Flickr
Given that I currently have 309 books on my Goodreads TBR—and that’s after removing a bunch I’ve realized I’m probably never going to get to—I’ve been thinking about what makes me add a book to my TBR shelf and what makes me prioritize one book over another in terms of deciding what to buy when.

I’ve found that especially over the past year or so, books with representation—especially representation I haven’t seen a whole lot of—have become insta-adds. Right now, books with nonbinary characters and chronic illness are a top priority to me as well as characters with other disabilities, but I also keep an eye out for books with non-het protagonists especially in non-Contemporary settings and books that tackle mental illness. I also make note of when books have PoC characters, especially in non-Contemporary settings.

This year, #ownvoices books have also become a top priority for me—and it’s something I’m going to continue to focus on when choosing my reading material for next year.

Of course, all of these elements have to work alongside a very important qualifier, namely that the premise sounds like something I’d really enjoy. I’m not too picky about premise, given that I read across genres pretty widely, but there certainly have been plenty of books out there that sound like they have great representation but the premise just doesn’t sound like something that’d really grab me.

What gets me to move a book from TBR to “bought,” however, is the writing. And the author.

If I’ve already read the author’s books before and really enjoyed them, then I’m more likely to pre-order without sampling. If I haven’t read anything from the author, however, then most of the time I’ll read a sample to see if I like the writing first. If the book doesn’t grab me, then chances are likely I’ll remove it from my TBR.

There have, of course, been exceptions, because this year for the first time I pre-ordered two books without sampling from debut authors because I’d heard so many good things from readers I trust. Luckily, they were both fabulous books so I didn’t regret it.

But this sorting is basically how I decide what goes on my TBR and what I buy. Naturally, I still add (and read) books without representation, but in terms of what I’m going to prioritize first, the books I read usually go through this sorting. And it’s been working out pretty well for me so far.

How do you add and prioritize books on your TBR? And how do you decide what books to buy or borrow next?

Twitter-sized bite:
How do you decide what books to read? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

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