October 07, 2014

A Reader's Quirks #3: Tips for Slimming Your TBR List Down

I'm back with a new installment of my random feature about the who, what, where, when and why of reading, where I talk about my own relationship with books/genres/authors, and ask my visitors to do the same if they feel so inclined. This could have been easily turned into a meme, but there's a reason why it didn't...I still don't see myself as an established enough blogger to host yet another meme. Even those with an impressive number of followers aren't necessarily overwhelmed with participations, so I'm not going there just yet. This doesn't mean "A Reader's Quirks" won't be promoted to meme's status one day, should it be the case. It's all up to you, really :).
A quick reminder...everyone can comment on my blog, spam or not spam. It matters to me that anyone can join the conversation. As for CAPTCHA...everyone hates it...so you won't find it here. Relax and breathe ;).
This time I'm going to talk about...

TIPS FOR SLIMMING YOUR TBR LIST DOWN

Because I've been on a destructive streak lately.
No no no. I'm still my usual kind, gentle, considerate self ;). It's just that, these latest days, I've been a reader with a mission: to reduce the size of my TBR list.

[Image from giphy.com]

To be precise, I have two different lists for unread books: a TBR (To Be Read) list and a NS (Not Sure) one. As a rule, my NS list is comprised by books I don't have enough info about yet. Maybe they will be released in some months, so they only have a few reviews (including those VERY suspicious ones by enthusiastic zealots you discover to be fellow authors). Maybe there's no excerpt from them anywhere. Sometimes, the two previous conditions don't apply, but I'm still waiting for the definitive review that will help me make up my mind. (Which may prove dangerous, because in the process, I'm likely to stumble upon a happily oblivious Goodreads reviewer who spoils the ultimate twist for me. GRRRR. Ever heard of the spoiler tag?). My TBR list usually consists of books about which I have what I consider a fair amount of info (excerpt included...because you know, writing style). Nevertheless, in the few past days, I've erased more books from my TBR list than from my NS one O_O. (I'll explain below). Some of them were even featured in my Most Anticipated Books of 2014 list and in two of my Book Blogger New Year's Challenge posts: The Book of 2013 You Are Sad You Missed and The Books of 2014 You Won't Miss. Go figure.
Now, the erasing act is crucial to me, since I buy the vast majority of my books - while it may not be a huge problem for you, if you read on an electronic device or have ARCs delivered most of the times. On the other hand, ARCs have deadlines, and even your eReader gets full ultimately. So, here are some of the considerations that have helped me decide which books to axe from my bills lately...or even before...I hope they can be useful to you, too.

***

Sorry, dear author

you've just signed out of my list

[Image from giphy.com]

There was this intriguing blurb on Goodreads once (now the book is not there anymore...I suppose its publication has been put on hold...but that's beside my point) about a sister who keeps dying by her own hand, and another sister who keeps rewinding time in order to find a way to save her sibling. Being the time-travel aficionado that I am, I found it SO enticing. Until I read that the author had had the back of a fellow writer in a social-media controversy dismissively commenting "Everyone's a critic". Yes, dear author, in case you still haven't got a clue, everyone darn well is. Everyone has an opinion, and a right to share it and shout it from rooftops. Unless we are disrespectful to the writer, we are entitled to speak our mind about the book. There's no friggin' need of a degree in Legitimate Literary Criticism or a legal authorization in order to do that. So ease your little eyebrow back down, please. Peace.

Tip N° 1: unfriendly/snarky authors don't deserve your support. I know, you're dying to read that book...but is this still true after the author reacted childishly/harshly to someone's legitimate criticism?

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Sex may make the world go round

but please do it with your significant other

[Image source]

There are all kinds of turn-offs that may steer readers away from books. I've seen reviews on Goodread where it was mentioned that the death (or more often, the killing) of an animal caused the reviewer to ultimately give up on a book. Unless it's the lead's doing, I can tolerate it (mind you, I love animals, but sometimes the thing is relevant to the plot). But two people hooking up behind someone else's back is a no-no. Unless they're someone we're supposed to hate. I used to have this recently released book in my wishlist, and I was pretty sure I wanted to buy it soon...then, because of some reviews, I began to have issues with it...but the cheating part (with a drug dealer, no less) ruined it completely for me. Bye, book.

Tip N° 2: everyone has a particularly strong pet-peeve when it comes to reading. Yes, that book sounds amazing, except for a certain "small" detail...but are you sure you can overlook it?

***

Of course you can time-travel

but no way you're a deadringer for your twin

[Image from thehomeplanet.org]

I can suspend my disbelief with the best of them. To me, the best things in books are the ones you have to suspend your disbelief about. Time travel, extreme sci-fi, and my very fave - people who are dead but not quite dead - you name it...I'm in. But when it comes to those tiny, annoying details that make our everyday life, I'm so hardcore picking. I've erased a couple of books from my TBR list lately, because I refuse to believe that two brothers or sisters can be so utterly underchangeable that no one - not even their parents - can tell them apart. It's funny, because I was so sure I wanted to read one of them - and all of a sudden, I thought to myself "WTF. This story simply can't hold". While of course is perfectly reasonable that a couple of unidentical twins can go ahead (or back in time) and save the world. What can I say, I'm such an optimist :D.
On a side note...I know that interchangeable twins have been a favourite movie, series and book device since Adam and Eve. All the same, I've never been able to suspend disbelief about them. (Also, it looks like an identical physical aspect is not enough...are they supposed to have the same voice too? and to say - and do - the same things? since, you know, they seem to fool everyone all the time). Now, I'm not suggesting that you skip books with identical twins. Maybe they work for you, and maybe - other than that small detail I mentioned - they're great. But since I have to buy my books, I can't take too huge a risk...
Also, the point I'm trying to make is not necessarily about identical twins. What I'm really trying to say is, sometimes a book has a fascinating premise, but you can't really buy it - or sometimes you dive into a fantasy or sci-fi story and you are able to believe it, but when it comes to things that you have experienced in your everyday life, you either have proof or are sure that a certain thing would never happen or work the way such story is tricking you into believing, and it ruins the whole book for you...

Tip N° 3: of course, there are genres that require you to suspend your disbelief about lots of stuff, to begin with. And yes, that book sounds like the dream of any fantasy or sci-fi aficionado...but are you sure you can buy the premise?

***

For goodness' sake...

stop making out and go save the world

[Image source]

I know this hardly discourages the vast majority of readers, but it's crucial to me. There are tons of books with an exciting premise that I won't read because they're too heavy on romance. If you have to save the world, fine, go and deliver - but please don't aggravate me with your lovesickness and love musings and love triangles. I've recently stroke an adult trilogy off my list because I learned that the heroine was prone to lyrical outbursts about her love interest's handsomeness. Also, apparently, she was inclined to make sappy and downright bizarre comparisons between kissing him and "kissing sunlight" or "kissing the ocean". All in the middle of a supernatural mess. Thanks, but no.

Tip N° 4: some people need the romance to take a back seat, at the very least. I know, that blurb is killing you...but can you handle the mushy bits?

***

So, basically...I can still take a small risk with a book, because even after reading a million reviews, you can never be sure. But I've refined my choice criteria, and no matter how alluring a blurb is, if a potentially huge turn-off is there, I let the book go. Are you like me? Have you done that sometimes? What makes you give up on a book and not look back?

[Image from survivingcollege.com]

For more Reader's Quirks click here.
Like to talk books? You might also be interested in this post. Comments are welcome! 

6 comments:

  1. I have authors that I would only buy used books from (so they wouldn't get the proceeds), if I was so inclined- there is a certain level of notoriety that damages any reputation, no matter how good at writing they may be. I also have a strong preference in romance that the hero cannot abuse/harm the heroine, or make her feel like she's going to be abused/harmed. Sadly, I've found a few too many popular books with that theme, and I end up rating it low, which ruins my average rating on Goodreads for quite a while.
    So yes, I also have pet peeves that help me narrow down my TBR- and I agree with your thoughts on romance taking over a save the world plot. Sometimes it's like the heroine is more interested in a hero's intense gaze than the arrow flying towards her neck. I mean, come on!
    Excellent post!
    ~Litha Nelle

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    1. Thanks! :)
      I totally agree on the abuse/harm theme of course. Sometimes it's kind of subtle, but it's still there...I can't understand how young women can be attracted to such books O_O. Anyway, I didn't include it in my pet peeves just because novels with such a feature don't even make it to my TBR list in the first place LOL.

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  2. Excellent advice! I have been trying to curb my enthusiasm before I click the buy button or the request button. So far that has been working (well almost). I have way more books than I can possibly get read, yet there are so many good looking books out there! I really need to learn to DNF books that aren't really appealing to me. Your advice is spot on - thanks!

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    1. Hehe, I did notice your long list. In my case, narrowing the TBR pile is necessary, since I buy all my books (well, almost - I did get a small number of them from authors/publishers lately) and I want to be reasonably sure that I'm going to spend my money the right way ;). On the other hand, I hope I gave you (and someone else) a couple of useful tips!

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  3. I don't bother with temperamental authors. I want to be able to read a book and post my thoughts without fear of repercussion.

    I don't bother with many ARC's anymore. It just gets too overwhelming. My struggle right now is the BEA books. I did really well about not grabbing too many and I'm reading them so yay! But the majority of the ones I did get seem to all have come out in September. I don't need to get reviews posted for them or by a certain date but I like to since that's the purpose of giving them to bloggers. I guess that's self imposed pressure. lol

    I also stay away from most series now. I'm only sticking with a few. It's an endless hype machine for the next book and I'm alms always let down.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I understand what you mean about BEA books (and yes, I did notice the September book avalanche LOL). Of course, they can always be reviewed later, and if one likes the thought of them, there's a chance they will be bought at some point. But a huge number of readers seem to only get excited for new books... :/
      Some series are mainly fillers. I guess they are what the bookbiz wants, so authors have to comply. But maybe things will change with the public demand of more standalones...

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