On Being a Jerk Reader: How to Reject Books Within Seconds

So I have observed in myself a rather embarrassing trend that involves my reading habits…I decide whether or not a book interests me within seconds and reject 90% of what I explore.  I’ve always been a rather persnickety reader, but lately I have become downright efficient in my snobbery.

Snobbery?  Is that what I am doing?  Snubbing the hard work of toiling writers without any substantive research into their endeavors?  It’s possible.  I would prefer to think of it as having become extremely proficient in sussing out what I enjoy and saving precious resources of time and money from being wasted on books that won’t rock me.  Since I realize that lots of other readers might want to tap into their own jerk reader, I have created this post to give you a guide to my process.

1.  Do look at the cover

Does it look exciting to you?  No?  Then it probably never will.  Not sure?  Consider what it indicates in terms of genre, time period, style, etc.

If the cover hooked you, move to step two.

2.  Who else liked this?

Check it over for reviews from sources that YOU like.  Did Stephen King like it?  That only matters if YOU like Stephen King.  If his books aren’t interesting to you, then what do you care what he thought of this book?  Did it gather a following of readers that are reading the kinds of stories you love?  Well, that’s probably pretty promising.

3.  Read the teaser on the back cover or front dust jacket flap.

Did your attention wander as you read that paragraph or two?  If you can’t barrel through that, then the next few hundred pages might not be something you want to invest in…you know?  Also consider things that this book may contain that are typically a win or loss for you.  Magic?  Carnivals?  Switchblade toting lemur loners lost in a post-apocalyptic world?  Maybe these ideas excite you, or perhaps they sound like irritating gimmicks.  There is no right or wrong, only what you like.  Still digging this book?  Proceed to the last step, step 4!

4.  Open it up, read the first paragraph.  Open to a random page, read another paragraph.

If you still want more, buy the book.  If you don’t, don’t try to sell yourself on a book that you aren’t thrilled to be holding.  Maybe it is great.  Maybe it won awards.  Maybe your bff stayed up all night reading it and is obsessed with sharing it with you.  Don’t care.  It’s your time and money.  Read what drives you wild and keeps you coming back.


One thought on “On Being a Jerk Reader: How to Reject Books Within Seconds

  1. I’m so glad to read this, because right about April 2015 I was becoming seriously concerned about the state of my grey matter I was rejecting so many books, one after the other. Whatever the opposite of voracious was, that was me, in rejecting books. Should I blame audible.com’s guaranteed-great-listen return policy? The 100 books per card allowed at the library? The listening habits of the six year olds I read to? (my aging brain?) I switched from calling in my audio book returns, to chatting with customer service by text instead to put their possible condemnation at one remove. So many were my rejects. But it didn’t take long until I knew half the customer service reps, slaving for Amazon (owner of audible) in the English speaking diaspora – Winston at midnight in Jamaica, Maria in General Santos City in the Phillippines. But then I noticed my best friend, who for decades, had proudly, stubbornly, against-my-pleas, finished every work of fiction she ever started, had oh-so-quietly left one, two, three books unread after the first chapter and moved on to something else. And now your blog post from the same time. Maybe it’s cultural. We’ve become a generation of curators. All that time spent on ebay, pinterest, etsy, tumblr, instagram and less salubrious side-swiping sites, has paid off. Our primitive monkey-hand grabbing mind, has finally learned that there is more fruit on the tree than we can ever eat, so every bite better taste good.


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