Do you pick books at random?

18/05/2016 Discussions, Reading 26

Do you pick books at random?Do you often pick up totally random books in bookshops? As in, books you’ve never seen before, or heard of at all, and know absolutely nothing about?

Personally I tend to have a reasonable idea of what I want to buy when I head into a bookshop, or I at least have it narrowed down to a few. There are so many books on my TBR list that have been there so long that I try and stick to buying them, or borrowing them from the library so that I can make a good dent in that list.

However, the other day when I was in Waterstones, armed with the voucher my boyfriend had bought me as part of my birthday present (I had already spent some of it on the amazing A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas and the as-yet unread A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab), I decided to try something a little different.

I decided to pick a book I had never heard anything about, and simply go off the blurb on the back. ‘So what’s the big deal?’ I hear some of you ask. ‘That’s how I buy most of my books! That’s how buying books should be!’

Well, yes, that should be how buying books goes, but personally over the years my method of choosing books has altered considerably, especially since I joined the book blogging world almost two years ago. These days I’m inundated with so many bookish recommendations through blogs and simply existing in blogosphere, that my TBR list is mostly composed of books I’ve heard about and now want to read. Occasionally I’ll see a book that catches my eye in a shop, but now instead of buying it on a whim I tend to check it out on blogs and Amazon first to see how good the reviews are, and then if it’s lucky I might add it to the very back of my extensive TBR list (which basically means I hope to get to it sometime in the next year!).

However, seen as I’m trying to get out of my little reading rut (and I’m making progress on the ebook front – I’ve managed to read a few non-fiction books on my old Kindle!), I picked a random book off the shelf that I liked the look of, and that book was Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. It was in the fantasy section (so a fairly safe bet!) and I was really drawn to the really simple, but intriguing cover, and the story sounds pretty interesting.

Hopefully I’ll really enjoy my random read (after I finish my current book The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien), but the main point of this post was to talk about book buying habits.

So am I the only one who finds they rarely pick up random books anymore? Do you just read whatever catches your eye in the shop, or are you a ‘stick to the plan!’ kind of buyer like me?

26 Responses to “Do you pick books at random?”

  1. Aj @ Read All The Things!

    I love buying random books. Whenever I go to a bookstore, I try to get at least one book I’ve never heard of. I’ve had pretty good luck with liking the random books I’ve picked.

    • Laura

      I’m glad you’ve had such good luck with your random choices! Hopefully mine will be the same 🙂

  2. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I wish I could do this with physical books but really the only time I impulse buy a book is when it comes to my Kindle. Even then, it’s not really a random book, I’ve normally found it through a lot of browsing. It’s only if I’m looking at cheap books that it’s a book that I will buy completely blind. Ever since I’ve discovered book blogging it’s hard to go in blind with any book. I don’t like the uncertainty of not knowing if I’ll like something. It just goes against my nature to now know more.

    You’ve gotten pretty lucky with your purchase I’ve heard great things about Marillier’s books. I’ve also never since this cover of Daughter of the Forest, it looks so sleek. I would have picked up my own copy way sooner if I had known that cover existed in the world.

    • Laura

      I have found I buy more impulsively on Kindle too, just because there are so many cheap or free books out there, so it seems worth the gamble. Plus I’m more likely to browse online than in a bookshop, where I always just tend to hone in on the books I’m already aware of and want to read.
      The cover to this book is lovely, which is one of the things that really drew me to it. I hadn’t heard of this book at all until I bought it the other day, but since a few people have said how good it is, so I’m glad I seemed to have done well with my random choice. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it as much as other people seem to have! 🙂

    • Laura

      That’s happened to me occasionally too where I’ve happened upon another book whilst looking for a particular one.

  3. Nick Sturgeon

    Hi Laura.
    Thanks for this piece as it opened my eyes more to the book blogging community.
    I thought before reading it that we all chose our books at random.
    When I walk into a bookstore I will browse the genres I love and go on the cover blurb. Never open it and read the first chapter, though perhaps I am missing out on this experience!
    I’ll buy and read a non-fiction or how-to title based on a recommendation from a friend or from a specialist / expert whose blog I enjoy.
    Yet with fiction I will always browse the aisles til I find the look of something. I notice that I will look at the front cover endorsements and register what has been said by another authentic in thst genre. This might then lead me to look for something by the previously unheard of name.

    I know

    • Laura

      It’s so interesting to get insight into how other people pick books! I suspected there would be some people out there (particularly none
      -book bloggers) who picked all of their books pretty much at random, and sometimes I think it would be quite nice to do that and have no preconceptions going into a new book. I’m going to have to read randomly more often! 🙂

  4. Citra

    I do that all the time. Since I don’t really read YA, it’s very rare that I got influenced by bookish hype. Recently I read many books that are somewhat unpopular. I have been lucky, though. I picked them randomly, intrigued by the title and cover and boom, I fell in love.

    I am lucky, I know 🙂 But finding a hidden gem feels so good!

    Happy reading to you, Laura

    • Laura

      I’m glad you’ve had such good luck with random reading! I do worry if I did that I’d end up reading some books I didn’t enjoy, but even when I’ve been reading mostly recommendations that has happened too, so there really is no fool proof way of finding books you’ll love. Happy reading to you too, and thanks for commenting! 🙂

  5. Tiffany @ The Bookish Thought

    I’m exactly like you! I never ever buy a random books. Books are pretty expensive here, so whenever I want to buy books, I always check the reviews and ratings of said book to make sure I’ll end up loving it. I don’t think I’ll try to buy random books, though. Anyway, great post! 🙂

    • Laura

      It is kind of a gamble I think, buying random books, which is why I’m much more likely to go with a random read from the library than from a shop. They are pretty expensive these days, so it would suck to have paid so much money for one you didn’t enjoy. Thankfully I bought this one with a gift voucher, and a lot of people have since told me it’s very good, so hopefully I won’t be disappointed! 🙂

  6. Jackie

    Yep. I’m a random book buyer and book borrower. It’s a habit I never dropped. In regards to books stores, I do try to buy at least one or two books that I’ve had my eye one; the rest are free game though. As for the library, I pick books with wreckless abandon. Sometimes I discover amazing stories, and sometimes a book is a total flop. It’s okay though because I didn’t actually spend any money.

    • Laura

      I’m a lot more likely to pick random books from a library too. When there’s no money invested it feels like so much less of a risk!

  7. Got My Book

    My book budget is VERY small, so I rarely purchase a book I haven’t already read and loved (I’m a big re-reader). But I often pick up free Kindle books or something from the library simply because it looks interesting.

    • Laura

      I’m a lot more likely to choose randomly if it’s from a library too, and I occasionally get free ebooks as well (usually the classics and non-fiction).

    • Laura

      That’s a real downside to TBR lists – you feel like you should be working your way through those books, and don’t have time for anything random 🙁

  8. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

    I think it’s funny how I think back on it now, and I don’t even know how I ever picked out books before without reading a whole bunch of reviews first! Like, how did I figure out whether I would like it or not?! But honestly I don’t think I was very picky back then lol.

    Then again, sometimes I get ARCs for books that have no reviews yet, so I just base my choice on the blurb. It’s not a risk of wasting money, but it still costs me my time. And sometimes I’ll see a book and just be like, “I NEED THAT,” even without reading any reviews. So I suppose I sometimes buy books (well, ebooks since I don’t really buy physical books) randomly, but it’s not often!

    • Laura

      I feel exactly the same! It’s so weird looking back on a time when I pretty much bought all books based on the blurb whilst in the bookshop. Nowadays I’m just working through a mental list, which grows all the time as I read more blogs and more reviews.
      This was definitely one of those moments where I saw the book and just wanted it, so hopefully my random buy will pay off (and I’m now part way through it, and so far I’m really, really liking it, so it’s looking positive).

  9. Silvara

    Before I started blogging, I did a lot more random buying. I’ve always tended to go in and see if my favorite authors had anything new out. And then, depending on how much money I had, I’d go look for covers or titles that caught my eye. If I liked the blurb as well, it was added to my stack.

    Since starting my blog? I very rarely do that anymore. Mostly because my TBR is so huge already, I hardly ever buy books anymore! The last books I remember doing that with was the 13 Treasures series. And that was entirely accidental. I was looking for books to buy my niece, saw the cover and went “that looks interesting…” Then I read the blurb, saw it was about the Fae and had to buy them for myself! *laughs* And as that was a year or so ago, yeah… it’s fairly rare that I do random anymore.

    • Laura

      That’s exactly what happened with me too. Most of my book buying used to be random, but not anymore! Thanks to blogging I have a huge list of books I already want to read, so I don’t just pick up random books much anymore. In a way I like that there’s so many books I can look forward to reading, but I do kind of miss the random buying sometimes!

  10. Natalie @ Flowers in my Books

    My favourite part of book shopping used to be when I would chose a book at random and based off the blurb but now, as you said, my TBR is so high that I tend to stick to books that are on that list so that I can shrink it, which I’ll admit has taken some of the fun out of book shopping.

  11. Stacie

    I rarely pick up a book just because any more! I discovered book blogs back in 2013, and since then my book buying has increased ridiculously. I used to only buy books once I had finished the one I was currently reading! I need to make more of a habit of buying random books, although I think it’s the cost that bothers me. I am much more likely to pick up random books from the library, because it’s free and doesn’t matter so much if I don’t enjoy it.

    • Laura

      My book buying has increased so much since I started blogging, and I’m exactly the same in that I don’t wait to finish one book before buying another. In fact I have a stack that I haven’t read yet that I should really be working on!
      It does seem a much safer bet to pick random books from the library, so I’m going to try and do that more often.

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