10 Things To Do Before Buying A Novel

10 Things To Do Before Buying A Novel

OK, you don’t get much time to​ read novels anymore. You used to​ but that was another life. Before you could pick up something that appealed and because you read so much, you weren’t too disappointed if​ it​ didn’t grab you like you thought it​ would. Things have changed. Now when you pick up a​ novel to​ read it​ has to​ get you in​ quickly or​ it​ will collect dust on your bedside table. There are too many other things demanding your attention…like sleep!

And when you go to​ the bookshop sometimes its hard not to​ be overwhelmed by the sheer number of​ books on offer, especially with the big mega stores becoming the norm. So what to​ do?

I’ve put together a​ checklist that with a​ little bit of​ preparation can help you wade through
the sea of​ books and help you pick a​ surefire winner: a​ novel that will captivate YOU.

1. The best place to​ start is​ to​ look out in​ magazines, newspapers and online for book reviews – see what is​ being billed as​ the latest must read. Even if​ you don’t have time to​ read the whole review, jot down the title and author as​ one to​ look out for.

2. Ask friends for the best book they have read in​ the last few months or​ this year or​ the last few years if​ like you they really are struggling with the whole when-am-I-going-to-find-time-to-read-a-novel?-thing. Don’t just ask them what book was their favourite; ask them why they liked it. Was it​ an​ unusual story, was the pace so fast they needed a​ crash helmet, did it​ have edge of​ the seat suspense, did it​ remind them of​ growing up? You want to​ know what exactly made it​ a​ great read for them. This will help you to​ refine your search, especially if​ they say they liked the quirky twist in​ the ending and you don’t do quirky. Just because you’re close friends doesn’t automatically mean you like the same books.

3. Ask the people behind the counter at​ your favourite bookshop what they enjoyed reading and get them to​ take you to​ it​ or​ give you a​ specific reference number so you can find it​ easily yourself.

4. When you get the book in​ your hands look at​ the cover. is​ it​ a​ catchy title? Does the cover appeal to​ you? Despite the old saying about not judging book covers, publishers put a​ lot of​ time and effort into creating a​ captivating cover and title. Does it​ work for you?

5. Turn it​ over and read the back. Does it​ still appeal? Do you only like reading modern books and this is​ set in​ the 1800s? It’s important to​ be fairly ruthless at​ this stage. if​ the premise for the story doesn’t leave you wanting more, chances are the writing probably won’t either.

6. Look at​ the size of​ the book. I know this isn’t something for the purists but if​ you don’t get time to​ read many novels, don’t launch back in​ with a​ 700 page tome or​ it​ will probably take you all year and then you’ll be frustrated and annoyed at​ wasting time and money on something you haven’t enjoyed.

7. The next step is​ crucial. Read the opening – does it​ get you in​ straight off? Novels have a​ bit more time to​ seduce you than a​ short story but not much these days. a​ good opening is​ like someone placing a​ thread around your finger and gently tugging on it. They’ve got you but can they keep you?

8. Has the author mentioned 10 characters and 5 different place names in​ the first 3 paragraphs? You want to​ be captivated not confused, remember? if​ your main reading time is​ before you drop off to​ sleep, books that have lots of​ characters and places or​ even a​ family tree at​ the beginning are a​ warning that it​ gets complicated and you need to​ keep track of​ who is​ who and what they’re up to.

9. Are there lots of​ long sentences or​ are they short and sharp? Lots of​ short sentences usually mean action and pace. Something. is​ happening. Right now. Usually it’s best to​ go for a​ story with a​ combination of​ both – one that suits your preferred action/background information mix.

10. if​ you still think the book in​ your hands is​ worthy, randomly flip open the book in​ 5 places and see whether it​ is​ densely packed with text. is​ there dialogue at​ each page you stop? No dialogue usually means that a​ book is​ more descriptive rather than direct scenes. if​ you want a​ compelling read then go for something with a​ fair amount of​ dialogue; if​ you don’t mind a​ slower pace then bits of​ dialogue here and there is​ probably enough to​ keep you going.

If it​ all stacks up, buy it​ and enjoy. Just one more tip though. if​ it​ doesn’t captivate you in​ the first 100 pages and you find reading it​ a​ chore, give it​ up. Don’t keep persisting just because you don’t like leaving things unfinished. The book won’t feel hurt if​ you don’t finish it. And the author will never know.

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