Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Friday, October 12, 2012

TipO'Day #403 - How to Pick a Book

Guest blogger Ellen Grogan on “So Many Books, So Little Time.”

With a collection of close to 4,000 books, the second question friends and neighbors always ask is, “How do you choose which book to read?”

“Well, that depends,” I respond.

When it comes to sampling books by authors who are new to me, cover design counts big time. If an author doesn’t care enough to invest the time and/or money in a professionally-designed cover, well, how much care could have been invested in the writing and editing of that manuscript? You see, we’re not in school any longer. We are offering a valuable work product (hopefully) in exchange for someone’s money and the time to read it. Value is expected in return! After that, all I want is to know what the story is about. If the description on the jacket of the book peaks my interest, I will read the first page of a sample. That’s it – one page. And price is always a consideration.

My first picks, however, are always from among the authors whom I consider to be some of the greatest living writers of our generation: Margaret George, Anne Rice, Stephanie Cowell, Michael Connelly, Ken Follett, Stephen Leather, James Patterson. Not only are they wonderful storytellers, but also there is much to be learned from the way they craft their stories.

I like true crime by Anne Rule if I want a really good scare. Nothing like a serial killer story to get my blood pumping. I like interesting detective stories: Harry Bosch by Michael Connelly; Alex Cross by James Patterson; Samuel Tay by Jake Needham; Inspector Zhang by Stephen Leather. I like everything non-vampire by Anne Rice. Her writing makes me feel like a little child curled up with a cup of hot chocolate listening to her as she tells me another magnificent story. (Of course I hear voices, silly – I’m a writer!) And Stephanie Cowell, well, all of her writing is so beautifully vivid that it just breaks my heart.

I must admit that I have not yet read any of the Dan “Spider” Shepherd novels by Stephen Leather but, those aside, I have never been disappointed by anything this amazing storyteller has written. Dreamer’s Cat and the Jack Nightingale series are beyond magnificent in story and in craftsmanship.

Oh, yes, and about that other question my friends and neighbors always ask me first: “Where do you find the time to do all this?”

Easy – I don’t do housework.


  1. I agree with you, Dixon, about book covers. They're the first impression we see and if they don't make a good impression it's harder to open the book and see what's inside. They set the tone and mood and should intrigue you enough to open the book. -- Paul

  2. Even i like Stephanie Cowell,James Patterson books, it will be amazing. As you said many of the times even I'll decide whethet to buy the book or not by reading the first page. Authors must be very careful in creating their cover page and a first few pages.