I was in Bluestockings the other day–an independent book store on the Lower East Side that publishes a lot of provocative titles, including gender and area studies– browsing books. I didn’t have an agenda in mind in terms of what book I was looking for, just something interesting and fast to read. Although I am inundated with submissions and queries, I still find it really important to take some time out everyday and read for pleasure. I think being open to other genres and types of books, sharpens your instincts as a reader.
I came across a book in the YA section called, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron. I liked the premise of the book. I liked the title. I read the blurbs on the back and then turned to a random page in the book. I didn’t sniff the book but I did read the prose and liked what I saw. I turned to another page in the book, and continued to like what I was reading. I decided to take a chance and purchase the book. I’m about half-way through it now in one-sitting.
The nice thing about bookstores is that you don’t lose the browsing effect. Because you can see the books in a physical space, it is easier to chance upon a book you wouldn’t have noticed while browsing Amazon.com for instance. True, different review services, blogs, book clubs, writer’s groups all serve similar purposes in terms of exposing us to new books. But sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than going to a bookstore and plucking one book out among thousands just based on the back cover copy, the writing on one random page, or even the title.
How do you browse for books online versus in a bookstore? Does the cover matter? What about the title, have you bought a book based solely on an interesting title? What makes you take a chance on a book you’ve never heard of?