What I Look for in a Book

Barnes & Noble is my favorite bookstore, and if they close the one that just opened in Tempe Marketplace, I will be very, very upset because it’s a nice one. Likewise can be said for Tempe’s local independent shop, Changing Hands. New books, used books, and all kinds of gifts and things. My box set of Shakespeare came from this store because Big Daddy remembered it when I pointed it out right before my birthday (or maybe it was Christmas) a couple years back. The books are tiny, blue and purdy, and it’s the entire collection. I love it!

Ahem. Not the point of this post, though.

When I look for a book in the store, many things factor in whilst browsing the spines, regardless of author name unless I’m specifically looking for an author. But let’s look at it when I’m not looking for someone and just skimming through the titles of whatever section for whatever reason–usually I’m just bored senseless and looking for an escape. We’ll start with section, too, because I hit a couple of them.

First, I hit the Starbucks section… Oh, come on, you do it, too! Don’t roll your eyes at me.

Second, I usually go to the YA (they just call it Teen) section because 1) it’s the first one coming back in from Starbucks, and 2) I love YA books. I have a pretty decent sized library of YA in my home office. Actually, I need more shelves right now, so books are getting stacked where ever I can find room. I may sell my Stephen King collection, but with the way the economy is, I don’t think I’d get much for it (Sorry Stephen, books are great, except Gerald’s Game–that one sucks). I have 48 Stephen King books.

Once I’m done in the YA section, which takes some time because there are soooooo many good books, I wander over to the Sci-fi/Fantasy area, also near the Romance, Horror, and Graphic Novel sections. Laurell K. Hamiltion sits smack dab in the middle of all this and I have to turn my back to her. I have read a good portion of the Anita Blake novels and well…………. :: chirp, chirp ::

What gets me to pick up your book? (hint: not nearly naked men/women on the cover)

Title catches my eye first. Allow me to explain the importance of a good–no, GREAT–title. It’s like that Antonio Banderas movie that also stars Lucy Liu, whom I adore. It’s a viewable movie, in that eyes glazing over kind of way, and it failed on a nuclear level, recouping only $19.9 million of it’s $70 mil budget. Okay people, if you’re just going to throw money away, I do have a Paypal account! My point is the title of this movie is HORRIBLE. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. WTF kind of title is that? I bet it would have made more money if it had a different title, regardless of its cinematic lack of any kind of sustainable plot (actually, I really don’t remember much of it and right now it’s meshing with Payback, which I liked). I certainly didn’t want to pay to see it (and I didn’t), and the title doesn’t even make sense when you get right down to it. I’m curious about the new Nick Cage flick that just hit DVD, Bangkok Dangerous. How horrible is it, because the title sucks. I don’t want to see it on title alone, and I now have the song One Night in Bangkok running through my head. I have a feeling it will be just like the Banderas/Liu flick. Title is indicitive of a crappy film, apparently. I’m using films as examples because I just can’t think of any crappy book titles, probably because they aren’t worth my effort to remember. I wouldn’t pick up any book titled the likes of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever or Bangkok Dangerous.

Next, I look at the cover. I loathe cheesy looking covers and I’m getting rather tired of the tramp stamp pose. Can we please fix this? Tattoos are cool, but come on, really? I believe there’s a slideshow video going around about this one somewhere amongst cyberspace, and no, I don’t have the link anymore. Deal.

Backcopy: is it catchy and does it intrigue me enough to open the book? This is a key point here.

If so, then I open to the first chapter and read. If I end up sitting on the floor of Barnes & Noble, which is very rare because it’s hard to get back up these days (I know there are chairs), and I read more than five pages while sitting on said floor, you have definitely made a sale! Carrie Vaughn did this to me recently and I purchased the first four books of her Kitty series. No, I haven’t read them yet. They’re on my list (see below).

Books I have recently finished reading:

The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu

A bit of Witchblade influence in this one (sorry, can’t help it. I love Witchblade).

I picked this up because someone mentioned it (not saying whether they liked or disliked it) and it looked interesting to me ‘cuz, you know, it’s a chick with a sword and she’s covered in tattoos (yep, good cover, even though it’s a tad cliche now–the tattoos are important to the story and I’m noticing this little trend). Oh, and she’s a demon hunter. Since I’ve recently finished a demon hunter book, which sits in editing (ahem!) (kidding), I thought I’d check it out to see the author’s ideas and writing style. The writing style is intriguing, yet sometimes confusing. There are short staccato sentences throughout (yes, Sio, I get it now, and I fixed it) that stop the flow altogether in some spots. That’s kind of like a jolt to the brain and you have to go back for one or two rereads. I don’t like doing that. I’m not a speed reader, so I shouldn’t have to do it. I read every single damn word syllable by syllable. Ok, I’m not that slow, but I do read each word. I don’t like to skip. I don’t think my sentences were this bad, but I’ll let you be the judge someday in the future. Somebody’s got to rip me to shreds, right? I have to finish the damn book first.

I really wish I could put my friend’s book up here, but it sits in an agent’s email awaiting a partial read. Blast. It’s good, too. So is the second one, which did not start out as a sequel.

Books I am in the process of reading:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (yes, it’s a classic; no, I haven’t read it before)

Um, how far have I gotten? I don’t recall. Weird story, but readable… and it’s a classic.

Sabriel by Garth Nix (first of the series)

Another odd one that is YA, but it’s good so far.

The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven (YA)

This one opens great, going right into the action. I didn’t have time to sit on the floor. Everything about it sucked me right in. It’s longer, too, which isn’t normal. I hope it doesn’t disappointment me halfway into the book. This will not make Jinxie a happy camper.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

I started this a while back, before the movie came out, and one of the kids I used to work with told me to stop and watch the movie before continuing with it. First, I have to say that with reading the first chapter, I was like, “Wow, Tolkein an influence here or what?” Second, I haven’t touched it since I watched the film. Hmm….

Wizard and Glass: The Dark Tower (#4) by Stephen King

Won’t be getting rid of this series… ever!

Books about to begin reading:

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (I love that title. I also love her author bio on the back)

I can’t wait to start this one because I kept seeing it in the store, but didn’t buy it. Then my mom, Umi, brought it home from my aunt’s house one day and I believe I literally screamed when I saw it. It also better be damn good.

Description: Rachel Morgan is a runner with the Inderland Runner Services, apprehending law-breakers throughout Cincinnati. She’s also a witch, one of the many Inderlanders who revealed themselves after a genetically engineered virus wiped out 50% of humanity. Witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves-the creatures of dreams and nightmares have lived beside humans for centuries, hiding their powers. But now they stopped hiding, and nothing will be the same.

On the run with a contract on her head, Rachel reluctantly teams up with Ivy, Inderland’s best runner-a living vampire. But this witch is way out of her league, and to clear her name, Rachel must evade shapechanging assassins, outwit a powerful businessman/crimelord, and survive a vicious underground fight-to-the-death, not to mention her own roommate.

Fun, sassy, filled with action, humor, and romance, “Dead Witch Walking” is the perfect summer read for anyone who likes vampires, paranormal fantasy, romance, or just a great beach book.

The Kitty series (I have the first four) by Carrie Vaughn

I’m looking forward to these books that sit on my shelf collecting dust. By the time I finish with them, I’m certain Ms. Vaughn will have book 7 out, since 5 and 6 are about to release.

(I am not putting up the descriptions for them)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I have skimmed through this book in the store and it is hilarious! Didn’t have a chance to sit on the floor with this one, either.

Description: Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie’s YA debut, released in hardcover to instant success, receiving seven starred reviews, hitting numerous bestseller lists, and winning the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Can you believe I had to correct a spelling error in this description? *shakes head*

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Yes, the entire series. I have read the first one, and I have all 13 books. =)

Okay, I think I’ll stop now. My list is getting too long and my reading time is dwindling.

Thoughts on any of the above?