Chuck Wendig recently asked this question: What gets you to read a book?
I’m not your normal reader. I should hardly be surprised that what gets me to read a book isn’t ‘normal’ either but after reading a fair portion of the two hundred odd responses to that question, I realise I’m a bookcrastinator. I just made that a thing.
These are the main ways I’m enticed to read a book.
1. Someone’s lent it to me
“This book is amazing. Have you read it?”
“Uh, no. No, I haven’t…”
“Really? Well, here. You can borrow it if you want.”
“That’s very nice of you but-”
“But it’s really good, you’ll really enjoy it”
“I don’t think-”
*steely stare* *gritted teeth* “Just. Read. It.”
“Yeah, Ok. Sure.” *takes book*
That may be a slight exaggeration but borrowing a book is an effective means of getting me to read. It’s fills me with a sense of obligation and the worry of possessing someone else’s stuff can be as motivating as a deadline (unless you’re family. Sorry, I’ll get it back to you soon…). It’s a bit like a friend insisting you attend a function and you end up having a really great time.
2. Saturation Point
If I hear about a book often enough, curiosity prevails. I began reading The Hunger Games trilogy, His Dark Materials and the Harry Potter series this way. And the Twilight saga. My only proviso is, I have to be interested in the basic premise for curiosity to kick in.
People don’t buy me books very often, (probably because they rarely witness me read them) but I will read a book gifted to me. I sometimes read a book I’ve bought for someone else. Usually my husband. He’ll read it first and if he recommends it, I’ll read it second.
4. Book Beauty
I buy a lot of second hand or antique books because I believe they are beautiful not because I plan to read them. But occasionally, I do. Modern books rarely turn my head for their cover art.
Aside: I, Coriander is the only ‘modern’ book I have ever bought because of its appearance and although it’s geared at a much younger audience it’s also a charming read.
Perhaps you are looking at my list wondering what’s wrong with it? I agree, it’s a good, healthy list of completely valid reasons to read a book (I was particularly proud of the way ‘Book Beauty’ sounded like Black Beauty) but as I wrote the sentence ‘modern books rarely turn my head for their cover art’ I realised I rarely look at books. I don’t browse in bookshops, I wander aimlessly. I don’t pluck books from shelves and devour blurbs. I don’t read reviews or recommendations or express an unwavering magnetism for a catchy title. What gets me to read a book is astoundingly passive.
It could be argued that I seek books at markets, but then it’s not really a book I’m buying is it? I’m buying a beautiful object that I’m unlikely to read.
For reading inspiration, a fellow blogger suggested I join GoodReads but the prospect of facing all those books made me feel like Mickey in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Dum-de-dum, dum-de-dum, with books heading towards me, hitching up their slip-covers and I’m trying to read them before they multiply. I realise now bookstores make me feel the same way. Overwhelmed.
I don’t find books, books find me.
It’s time to become the sorcerer.
This isn’t the post I intended to write, but this is what evolved. Personally, it’s been most insightful, so thanks for letting me talk it through.