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Thread: How to Tell A Good Book from a Bad One

  1. #16
    Registered User Akeldama's Avatar
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    I haven't bought any books lately that haven't either been recommended to me by someone whose opinion I trust or are "classics". The synopsis on the back is always important, while the little blurbs of "This is the greatest book since books were invented!" aren't usually very persuading to me, unless the quote is attributed to another author that I respect.

    Of course, I don't plan to buy any more books until I get through the stack of unread novels I have laying around, a task I'm glad to say is going pretty smoothly.

  2. #17
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    The best way to be able to tell is to read 'em, I believe.
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  3. #18
    liber vermicula Bitterfly's Avatar
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    I think the first page tells you whether the book is worth reading or not - truly bad style is obvious straightaway (of course, you could answer that style isn't the only criterium, but I'm not a difficult reader!)). I wouldn't go by the jacket, since I've seen quite a few re-published classics with really garish covers (a Far From the Madding Crowd that I took for a Mills and Boons, once ).

    I tend to buy books by authors I already know, or have already heard of, and don't take many risks, anyway. And I have so many "good" books left to read that I don't yet have to be adventurous!

  4. #19
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    I don’t buy books on impulse. I did that few times and it didn’t turn out well. I already have a big stack of books to read, hence even if I buy a book now, I probably will read it after 3-4 moths.

    Most of the time I read the books which are recommended on sites, I also check rating and reviews on amazon.com

    Once I know the book has a good rating, I read the first page. This gives me an idea about the style of writing. There are great books which are difficult to read (Dostoyevsky, Dickens) and there are some which are easy to read (the catcher in the rye, Shantaram, life of PI, Shogun)

  5. #20
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Just so you know, for all the "don't judge a book by its cover" people, the synopsis is on the cover, and it is virtually impossible to judge, at least in the primary stages, without guessing at the cover. As it known, no one can read the first paragraph of every book in the store, it would seem plausible that everyone must check titles, authors, synopses, and quotes from the cover first, thereby making a preliminary judgment solely on the cover.

  6. #21
    Registered User Joreads's Avatar
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    You have to read the book to know if it is good or bad.

  7. #22
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    Basically, I mostly read books that I've heard about beforehand. But when I have to decide which book to buy or borrow, I have to be quick. So I read titles and I immediately know which book is boring or fascinating. For example, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore by Tennessee Williams was a title I fell in love with spontaneously. That's actually how I came to read Luis Sepulveda's books.

  8. #23
    I controls the spice! princesspoppi's Avatar
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    I agree, you have to read it to know! The way I know a book I am reading is great is if I keep thinking about it after I have put it down and then neglect everything else so I can finish it!
    There are only two ways to live your life.
    One is as though nothing is a miracle.
    The other is as if everything is.
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  9. #24
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    I'll jump on the band wagon of "you have to read it to find out." I've read books that people claim are horrible and they turn out to be good and vice versa. Just cause it was written 100 years ago doesn't make it a classic and a "must read."

    It also depends on the target audience. I've started reading the Twilight series cause of the word of mouth hype and they are not that good. Are they not good cause of the writing or is it because I'm not a teenage girl and not the target audience? That is for the reader to find out.
    Here we just sell small rectangular objects. They're called books. They require a little effort on your part, and make no bee-bee-bee-bee-beeps.
    -The NeverEnding Story

  10. #25
    Hellllooo Mr Darcy! MrK's Avatar
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    I always read the first line or page...NEVER the covers or flaps! NEVER the last page...thats shocking!
    I hate any spoilers...

  11. #26
    I agree with LadyWentworth - sometimes it's difficult for me to get into a book based on its opening. There have been books I've heard amazing things about (and that were amazing) that I probably would have bypassed if I had randomly selected them off of a shelf and read the first page or so.

    I hate to admit that, but at the same time, sometimes an author uses "framing" as an opening/closing technique, and therefore the first page is not a clear representation of the whole piece of writing. Or, since there is so much pressure put on finding a good opening/opening line, the very beginnings of a book may have been written in a different frame of mind than the rest of the book, if the author put exceptional effort into making a good or impressive first impression.

    More and more, I've found that I've been educating myself about literature I'm interested in before going to a book store... but then again, at this point in my life, I am not reading purely for pleasure, but also for study.

    In a used bookstore though, especially where old hardcovers are missing their jackets, I'll open to the middle of a book and get a feel for it that way. And if the book is non-fiction, I always read the table of contents.

  12. #27
    Registered User Cailin's Avatar
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    Like a lot of others here, I tend to go on recommendations of others (be they friends or reviewers), I go with authors I already know I like, but I also check reading lists for universities and second level education as often there are newer authors beyond the national sphere that I wouldn't otherwise have heard of. This last option has opened my eyes to many new authors. It's a nearly a decade since I finished university and I miss the world of possibilities the reading lists opened to me.... Ah to be a student again!

    If I'm buying a second-hand book, I look for the well-worn copies as it suggests to me that someone carted it around in their bag unable to step away from it for too long!

  13. #28
    Registered User idiosynchrissy's Avatar
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    You toss it in a lake. If it sinks, it's a good book. If it floats, it's a witch.

  14. #29
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    I will just pick up and read a book purely because it has a good title. That's why I read the Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire.

    Also there are key words I look for in a blurb: 'breakdown', 'tragedy', 'satire', 'love'...

  15. #30
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    I'm the horrible reader I don't look at the beginning. When trying to choose a book, I actually read the ending. Don't know why I do it this way, but if I don't like the ending of a book, I'll normally not like the rest of it. So, yep, I go strait to the ending as a means of choosing

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