Friday 27 February 2015

On The Lack of Browsing...

Hi internet! I feel like it's been aaaages since I've posted anything and I miss it. I've been really tied up trying to catch up with War and Peace (I have hopes of reaching where I'm meant to be or just a couple of chapters off by Sunday) so I've not had a huge amount of time for anything else! However yesterday I met up with Laura and Katie in London to visit some bookshops (because we'd never met Katie before - she's lovely- and because Laura and I don't really need an excuse at this point..) and while browsing around Foyles with Katie I was thinking (and talking) about how I don't really just browse in bookshops like I used to before I started blogging anymore.

Image result for hyperbole and a half book
Example: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh which I bought 
just because Katie told me to. (Thanks Katie, I finished it on the 
coach and it's hilarious!)

I know I've read other people's posts on this subject, but I'd never really thought about how blogging has changed my buying habits before and the more I think about it, the more it interests me. For instance, before I started blogging I would walk into the library or bookshop and literally just pick up anything and everything and have a look to see if it sounded good. As a teenager my favourite kind of book haul was lots of authors I'd never heard of before. Now, I tend to stick to authors I already love, stuff that's on my wishlist - generally because it's been written by an author I love or because someone I know, in real life or in blogland or both has recommended it, or authors/books I've heard a lot about on twitter and blogs. Honestly, while my eyes were skimming over titles yesterday I was very conscious that they would only stop when they hit something that sounded familiar for some reason and it unnerved me a little.

I really don't like to think of myself as a restrictive reader in any sense of the word, hence the nonfiction and diversity challenges I've set myself this year and my very loose participation in the Panels Read Harder Challenge. If there's a genre I'm conscious of not reading I will go out of my way to push myself towards finding a book in that genre which interests me and give it a go. I like to say I'm an eclectic reader and actually mean it, and because of that it worries me slightly that I'm limiting my reading choices, even unconsciously. I know there are so many published books in the world that even if they stopped publishing books today I'd still never be able to read them all (I really do know that now, ok mum?!) and I know that because of that I need to be selective about what I read and only read things which really appeal and that I really want to read, but what if, among all those titles I'm skimming over without taking in, there are hundreds of books I do want to read except that I just don't know I want to read them because I never picked them up to see if they sounded good?

A small selection of the books I've bought totally randomly. This isn't all of them but there were nowhere near as many as I expected. Most are based on recommendations or previously loved authors. 
I picked up a short pamphlet about this a while ago called The Unknown Unknown by Mark Forsyth which I know a lot of others have read as well, but he talks about good bookshops as being "a room (or two) where you can find what you never knew you wanted, where your desires can be perpetually expanded." All of the bookshops we went to yesterday were this, but I feel a bit like I'm not using them like this anymore. Don't get me wrong I'm not knocking blogging as an influence on my reading life - without it I'd probably never have read The Night Circus or any Rainbow Rowell, unspeakable thought! - I'm just... trying to be more conscious of how I'm shopping and why. I think I was thinking about it yesterday because I was actively trying to avoid buying things that were on my wishlist as I'm still waiting on my Ninja Swap parcels to arrive and didn't want to accidentally end up with duplicates, and honestly I was finding myself a bit lost with where to start!

You'll see when I post about yesterday's excursion why this won't be a problem for many months, but when I do eventually buy books again, maybe I'll just try to keep it in mind and make my eyes stop on an author I've never heard of before, just to see what happens...

What influences the books you buy? Has blogging changed your buying habits?


  1. I think it's natural that our hobbies and activities change us, like how blogging changes our book buying habits. I too have to think about it a bit more, compared to before blogging when I like you would just pick up any book that I see interesting.

  2. I do think this is an interesting point to consider. I suspect that all of us are influenced to a certain extent by what we've read through blogs or the internet in general. I've found that as I've learned more about books and authors as a whole, my mindless browsing has pretty much ground to a halt. And, like you, I've been sad about that. Not sure I can change it at this point. Working in libraries, blogging, and a lifetime spent reading has meant that I know and have opinions about so many more book and authors than I ever dreamed I would in my "cruising through the library to see what I could find days of my teens and early 20's". Ah well. One more thing that age has brought.

  3. See, see, before I started blogging I really hadn't read that many books, or I didn't read very diversely at all- I used to re-read my favourites a lot (hence why I've read To Kill A Mockingbird A LOT) and I used try and read the back catalogues of my favourite authors (hence why I have read A LOT of Steinbeck). Now, I hardly re-read things, obviously I'm trying to read all the Stephen King, but I get pushed outside my old comfort zones by people going 'read this! It's great!' and I really like it.

    Also, many of the books I used to randomly buy (from charity shops, mainly) just get redonated because I don't like them that much? So, recommendations! I love them.

  4. I think I'm kind of with Laura on this one... I quite often end up really disliking the books I've bought on a whim but loving books I've bought because bloggers I trust have liked them.

    I know that there MUST be amazing books I'm missing out on by not browsing properly, but the percentage chance of me liking a book recommended to me is much higher so I guess I just take the chance!

  5. I do this, too, now. Just the other day I was at the library book sale, a place, mind you, where the books are ridiculously cheap, and I was still skimming along looking for books I was aware of wanting or authors I knew I wanted to read. It's the perfect place to take some time and explore, pick up something that's so inexpensive that it won't matter if I don't like it. If I'd shopped for books like this before blogging, I never would have found some of my favorite books!

  6. "Honestly, while my eyes were skimming over titles yesterday I was very conscious that they would only stop when they hit something that sounded familiar for some reason and it unnerved me a little." - This is EXACTLY how I feel. Some of my absolute favourite books and authors of all time have been discovered because I picked things up at random in the library, or I had the third book in a 'three for two' offer still going free and went for something I'd never heard of from the front tables in a bookshop.

    I understand WHY I skim the shelves for familiar titles - it helps narrow down a fairly overwhelming choice, and speeds things up no end - but that doesn't mean I like it every time.