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Anyone Else Practice "Random Reading"?

DavidRM

New Member
Over the past few years, how I pick (or don't pick) what to read has evolved considerably. Before this, I used to spend too long in bookstores and library aisles trying to make sure that some genre book would be something I'd like. And I'd be wrong just about as often as I was right. Seemed like a lot of work for a 50% success rate.

Now, the 2 most important criterion for what I read are:
1. Free is good.
2. The book cannot be actively trying to get away from me.

This has freed me considerably. Now I can go into the library fiction aisle (maybe a genre aisle, maybe not), grab 2 books at random and take them home. Odds are I'll like one of them--and no time wasted worrying about it.

Because of this new approach, in the last 5-6 years I've read just about one of everything: classics of the 19th and 20th century literature, romance, sci-fi romance (which I didn't even know *existed* before I read one), police procedurals, true crime, crime, cozies, hard-boiled, hard sci-fi, epic fantasy, non-epic fantasy, YA, youth, horror, and more.

Oh, I also read books that I see mentioned in newspaper articles and blog posts that sound interesting (sometimes they even are), and generally will read anything a friend recommends (even if they later tell me that, no, they hadn't read The Devil Wears Prada, she just wanted to see if I would read it; I did).

I will read anything, pretty much. And I have. At random.

Anyone else do anything like this???

-David
 

Peder

Well-Known Member
It doesn't sound so strange to me. Change a couple of genres here and there and it would be quite accurate for me too. Not to mention enjoyable. :flowers:
 

scribeswindow

New Member
I'm too much of a control freak to just randomly choose books this way. When I'm in the library the book has to 'grab' me, then I read the blurb, then the bit about the author, what else they've written (if any), and then I skim the first page..... I spend ages in a library......
 

DavidRM

New Member
I'm too much of a control freak to just randomly choose books this way. When I'm in the library the book has to 'grab' me, then I read the blurb, then the bit about the author, what else they've written (if any), and then I skim the first page..... I spend ages in a library......

I started the Random Reading Program in 2002 or 2003 when I realized I was spending a lot of time picking and choosing books that I didn't like any more often than the ones I picked with little or no thought (or that a friend sent me to read after she had finished reading it).

Another reason I started was to broaden the range of my reading. When I consciously pick books I tend to dig deep holes in the same area.

-David
 

Keira

New Member
For me, it doesn't really work because I always get swayed by the book cover. The best would be to rely on actual book reviews.
 

Bluenote

Member
For me, it doesn't really work because I always get swayed by the book cover. The best would be to rely on actual book reviews.



Unfortunately the various reviews are often colored by the given reviewer's personal bias as regards the written word.


I guess I've practiced the 'random method' ( sounds vaguely Catholic doesn't it?) of recreational literature choice since the '70s , I'll read about anything save for romance novels and if I'm stuck long enough I'll read those too.

I pretty much ignore reviews and the like , word of mouth from other readers at the libraries and bookstores has tended to be more reliable as an indicator of whether a given volume might have some appeal than does any review , the Bestseller List or DoPrah's rating of a book.
 

Peder

Well-Known Member
Another reason I started was to broaden the range of my reading. When I consciously pick books I tend to dig deep holes in the same area.
-David

Broaden, certainly, always. But finding a very good author deserves digging a deep hole, I think -- one finds them seldom enough. :)
 

DavidRM

New Member
Broaden, certainly, always. But finding a very good author deserves digging a deep hole, I think -- one finds them seldom enough. :)

Yeah, when I find an author I like, I tend to overdose on them, grabbing book after book by them from the library.

That has a downside, I've discovered. Some authors need some some separation between their books. Like HP Lovecraft. Or even someone like Stephen King or Andrew Vachss or Neil Gaimin. You read too many of their books back to back and you start spotting their "verbal tics" and "fictive patterns". Or I do, anyway.

-David
 

Peder

Well-Known Member
You read too many of their books back to back and you start spotting their "verbal tics" and "fictive patterns". Or I do, anyway.

-David

Too true for most authors, but I think that depends on the author and one's taste. To my eye Nabokov and Virginia Woolf wrote different books every time. I never got tired of them and they are among my favorites. But indeed the best way to get fresh writing, generally speaking, is to shift authors so I am always trying new ones too.
 

Keira

New Member
Unfortunately the various reviews are often colored by the given reviewer's personal bias as regards the written word.

Some reviews can be very unreliable especially those which I can find online but at least having an active discussion with few of my friends who are also into the same hobby, will help.
 

pontalba

Well-Known Member
This has freed me considerably. Now I can go into the library fiction aisle (maybe a genre aisle, maybe not), grab 2 books at random and take them home. Odds are I'll like one of them--and no time wasted worrying about it.
-David

I'm not quite as random as that, but I do usually pick a book pretty quickly. Cover vibe should be right, and if the blurb is interesting, into the bag it goes.

Oh, I also read books that I see mentioned in newspaper articles and blog posts that sound interesting (sometimes they even are), and generally will read anything a friend recommends (even if they later tell me that, no, they hadn't read The Devil Wears Prada, she just wanted to see if I would read it; I did).
Yup, that too, although some of the disappointments I've encountered have had great reviews by the Washington Post.
 

Anamnesis

Active Member
It sounds like a good idea. The thing is, I can be particular about what I like to read so I barely practice random reading.
 

~Anne~

New Member
I tend to read a lot of series, and I like to read them in chronological order, so "random reading" would not work for me.
 

Will

Active Member
I'm too much of a control freak to just randomly choose books this way. When I'm in the library the book has to 'grab' me, then I read the blurb, then the bit about the author, what else they've written (if any), and then I skim the first page..... I spend ages in a library......

I tend to read a lot of series, and I like to read them in chronological order, so "random reading" would not work for me.

I am kind of a mix of these two - only I also tend to rotate around genres (i.e. contemporary lit/horror/sci-fi/historical fiction/crime) a fair bit...

I am really envious of your ability to do this though, successfully too, as when I've tried such things in the past it generally hasn't worked out too well. I have this thing with hating to not finish books, to the point that I will read books I don't enjoy to the end just to be sure. It's a quirk I know, and I think has put me off of starting something I know I won't enjoy...
 

DavidRM

New Member
I think it helps that I am willing to abort a book unfinished.

I usually know within the first 50-100 pages of a book if I'm going to finish it. Sometimes fewer pages than that, if the writing style is just too dreadful/painful.

-David
 

judianne

New Member
I usually like a certain type of book (suspense/mystery/thriller) so will try different authors on a whim - esp if free or a bargain book.
 

judianne

New Member
I think it helps that I am willing to abort a book unfinished.

I usually know within the first 50-100 pages of a book if I'm going to finish it. Sometimes fewer pages than that, if the writing style is just too dreadful/painful.

-David
You give a book more of a chance than I do - but being a tad on the older side I don't have time to waste on a bad book:lol:
 

litera9

kickbox
That sounds like an interesting idea. It would be a enthralling experiment, testing the random factor to see what you like. But what if, like Anemnesis said, you're picky? I don't want to waste my life reading a meaningless novel. What do you think?
 
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