‘How to’s: how to be a successful stalker…book stalker, that is.
So there’s an old adage that you’ve heard and I’ve heard (and maybe said) a thousand times: ‘you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince;’ I just want to call bull-crud on this extremely bad advice old people give young people so they don’t feel old-but seem wise. It’s similar to the, ‘he only pulls your hair because he likes you,’ lie; these phrases do not help young peoples’ futures, on the contrary, it only helps the kissing prospects of frogs and hair-pulling-jerks. Anyway… unfortunately, with books, this adage often applies, when you don’t know how to be an efficient book-stalker, you have to read a lot of poorly-crafted, boring-as-heck, or just-not-your-type books.
I’ve read my share of crud-tastic books before I honed my skills in the art of being a stalker…of books.
Don’t Trust Your Friends or Family
I get asked for a lot of book recommendations. I give out a lot of book recommendations. Don’t trust me. Don’t trust your friends. And please, please, don’t trust your mom.
There is only one person in the world who can lead you to a good book, and that is good old trustworthy you. The truth is, your next favorite book might be something your mother (or your best friend, or I) would use as last resort toilet paper. But your friends and family love to tell you what to read (heck, I love to tell everyone what to read), it’s a pride thing.
And if you follow your own recommendations, you don’t need to coddle your own feelings and tell you that the book was ‘awesome!’ when you really just wasted your precious few moments of free time on guilt reading. Unless you read to appease other people’s egos (or the person you are asking knows and actually cares about what you’ve read and enjoyed in extensive detail), it’s safer to just never ask for a book recommendation.
Know Your Blogger
If you’re reading this, it is likely that you are a blog reader (just a guess); I am too. I follow over a hundred book reviewing blogs, but for me personally, they are my first and last stalking resource, never my only.
Bloggers, or any type of book reviewers, professional or not, are as biased and partial as any other person on this planet. Just because they know what they’re talking about, can write witticisms and summarize succinctly does not mean that whether they like a book isn’t completely dependent on their personal lives, loves and pet peeves. It’s on the rare occasion that they all agree (on praises or insults) – that you really should pay attention. That said, bloggers are an essential resource for book recommendations, just know your blogger, and pick the right one. A hunter doesn’t use a rabbit trap if she wants to catch tigers, if she has a rabbit trap, chances are, that’s all she’ll catch; same with books, if you only love urban fantasy books with a strong female lead and you follow a blogger who primarily reads paranormal romance books with a virgin and an alpha male, you’re likely going to catch the ‘rolling your eyes’ disease.
Finding if a blogger is invested in your genre is actually very easy to do. Say you’ve found a blogger whose quips and summaries you enjoy reading, check if they have read the book you want to read more like (or better yet a couple you love) chances are if they’ve read 500-1000 books and the book you read is somewhat popular, they have at least heard of it if they like that type of book (say you’re looking for a series like Patricia Brigs’ Mercedes Thompson series and your blogger hasn’t read it-or put it on a to-read list, she probably doesn’t read your genre-Urban Fantasy). If she’s read 500-1000 books and not the blockbusters in the genre you want to read–you might want to find a better suited blogger. On the other hand, if she hates the books you love, don’t think that you just have it wrong; this is a mistake it’s easy to make, ‘oh, they’ve read so many books, they know better than me.’ Maybe they do. Who cares? Reading is for your enjoyment, enjoy it.
Don’t Finish Books!
This is probably where I lose you, most people I talk to NEED to finish books even if they’re bad, bad, bad. I get it—you spent your hard earned money on it, I get the same guilt feeling that you do—but honestly, even if you can’t get a refund (which you usually can), the majority of books cost between $0.99 and $20, even if you make CA minimum wage, that’s seven minutes to two hours of work time wasted, versus ten hours of free time wasted (—which is so much more precious, am I right?).
And the Author would probably prefer you return her work rather than force yourself to sit through the torture of reading something you hate and subsequently feel the inevitable need to spread the word about how awful it is!! Reviews are always just opinions, but people LOVE negative reviews and will listen to them whether or not the reviewer has the same taste in books as them or not.
My point—(unless you’ve committed to doing it) life is too short and there are too many books in the world that you will enjoy to force yourself to sit through a book you don’t. Return it, or if you can’t, take it to a local book store and get credit that you can use on a book you’ll enjoy.
Okay, So Let Get to Stalking
You might already have a list of bloggers you trust and have an account on every book site out there, but let’s come from the assumption that you’re on your own.
Do you Goodreads?
If you don’t Goodreads, dooo it!! Now. It takes like ten seconds to create a free account and you will be a much better stalker. Think of it as book-stalker central. Click here>>>> www.goodreads.com
Rate all the books you like, love, hate, and goodreads will even suggest books for you.
You can get new book ideas by:
Looking up bloggers. This is my favorite blogger ‘meeting’ place—you can just start following the reviewers you enjoy on the book pages you check out, and if they keep working for you-look up their blog on their profile page. There are also lists of the most followed reviewers and best reviews—but I’d go on their page and ‘compare books’ with them, there’s actually a feature that does it for you (it’s called ‘compare books’, you can find it under their profile page’s details section).
Checking Listopedia Lists. A listopedia list is a list of books that have a feature in common (ie Best Urban Fantasy Series With a Kick-Butt Heroine) and people vote on their favorite, I suggest checking the list that your favorite books rank high on, you can find them in the section ‘lists with this book’ on your favorite book’s page.
Looking by Genre. Each genre and sub-genre has an awesome ever changing little page.
Check ratings!!! People don’t get paid to rate the books… the one thing I always try to take into account is that the more people who have read and rated a book—the more diversified the audience (as in people who don’t usually like this type of book are reading it just because it’s so popular), so the rating often lowers to about a 3.6 to 3.9 when it hits the mega-famous stage, where that book was probably rated a lot higher when it was only popular within its genre. Inversely if the book only has a couple hundred ratings and it’s in the 1.0-3.5 range it means that people who read this book’s genre (or that type of book), generally didn’t like it that much—(for me) probably a skip.
Goodreads. Do it!! Doooo it. Okay.
There are a couple other book-networking sites:
Not quite as user-friendly as goodreads. Less reviews, less reviewers, less members-no cool pretty flashy pages. This is a great place to actually win giveaways (where I have entered like a hundred Goodreads giveaways and never won squat) check out Librarything giveaways-for awesome free books.
Another neat feature is that you can upload your Goodreads library onto Librarything. AND Librarything will tell you users who have similar libraries.
I really don’t see the point.
If you’re an amazon shopper there is a nifty little bar titled ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought,’ but…this is not a failsafe. This bar is actually only really useful for mid-level successes. For mega-blockbusters you’ll just get a list of other mega-blockbusters. If a book is successful in its genre only, but hasn’t been made into a TV show or movie, you might find similar books that you’ll love. However, the more obscure the book, the less reliable the recommendations.
Also, I don’t trust amazon ratings; I find them to be wildly inaccurate-CROSS-CHECK GOODREADS RATINGS. Like Amazon, Goodreads also has a nifty little bar, it’s titled, ‘Readers Also Enjoyed Similar Books;’ this I find more accurate—but still not foolproof.
Uses goodreads ratings and reviews.
Is a good source for free inde books-not a good resource. More like trying to cross a mine-field rigged with bad books hidden next to perfectly good ones.
Conclusive thoughts on being an efficient stalker
I have a 4.23 star rating average of the 425 books I’ve read and rated (on goodreads), this is not because I’m nice (I’m really not sure if I am ‘nice’) this is because I don’t finish (or rate) books I don’t like—I probably return (or just get sample chapters and don’t buy the book of) 2/3 of the books I start.
There are millions of books out there, thousands that you will love—you’re not doing anyone any favors by wasting your time with books you don’t like. And don’t listen to book recommendations from your friends and family, I mean, don’t be rude about it, check out the book if you feel guilty, but if it’s not something you’ll enjoy, just don’t do it. Listen to bloggers, bloggers who read and like the books you read and like, listen to AVERAGES of ratings—not just one or two ratings, or reviews by professional reviewers, they probably write well,—they get paid— listen to people like YOU!!
Sign up for GOODREADS!!!! Explore the different features, the more you input, the better the site will be at hooking you up with the books you love.
Now, stalk away…
Just my experience, please comment and share yours.