It’s so easy to Goodreads-surf and click that ‘Want to Read’ button to your heart’s content. Easy to do and, yet, when it comes to actually reading the thing, I sometimes realise that I’ve made a terrible mistake. Either I ended up deleting it later or read it and found it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I really need to be more careful with adding to my TBR but I just can’t help myself.
So, here are six silly reasons I’ve added books to my TBR (and still do).
1 ft: Liked the Cover
Yep, guilty as charged. I’ve been told this ever since I was little and yet I still do it. Which means I’ve found myself reading books that were definitely not for me and ones I would have known weren’t for me if I had bothered to read the blurb. One of the worst examples of this was The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock. I am not a big fan of straight historical fiction without any alternate universe or fantasy elements but I was fooled by the title and the front cover into thinking there might be something in there. Spoiler alert, there wasn’t. If I was being generous, I’d say the story was decent but there’s no denying that it wasn’t for me. Note to self: actually check whether a book actually has mermaids in it before I go and add every book with the word ‘mermaid’ in the title.
2 ft: Goodreads/Amazon recommendation
Often, this can be a great way to find a book that’s similar to the ones you love. It’s tough to find a book that could match the brilliant one you’ve just read and the categories on these sites are so unhelpful. If only, instead of ‘Fantasy’ or ‘Romance’, there were categories like ‘Great Character Development’ or ‘Excellent Disability Representation’. Until they do, recommendations are sometimes the best way to find your next favourite book. If you don’t read the blurb first, however, you might find yourself disappointed. Whatever these recommendation algorithms are made of, it might not the reasons that you liked the original book. There’s no way we can change that so it’s always best to have a look at the blurb and the reviews first before taking the site’s word of it.
3 ft: Already Read The First Book (And Thought It Was Average)
This plays into sunk cost fallacy: the idea that you have to continue on with a project even though the likelihood of the endeavour being worth it is zero. If the first book in the series was ‘meh’, that means I probably shouldn’t be adding the rest of the series to my TBR but (and this is especially true when that series is either getting lots of hype or a film/TV adaptation) I sometimes feel like I have to, just to see what all the fuss is about. I’ve done it with the Illuminae series and, thankfully, ended up the deleting the last two from my TBR after the first was just okay. Just remember that, unless you get confirmation from other readers that the next books are better, you don’t need to commit to the whole series if you don’t want to. Or, do what this clip recommends and just wait for the film. After all, if the rest of the series is as ‘meh’ as the first one, the film might be better.
4 ft: Good narrator (audiobook only)
This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way recently. I picked up The Dutch House because everyone was singing the praises of Tom Hanks’ narration. I listened to it and…yes, the narration was great but it didn’t make me like the story any better. Again, this is about not paying attention to the right things or, in this case, to just one thing while disregarding the rest. Great books aren’t made of just one element but the perfect blend of all the best elements. A good narrator can make a great book excellent but it can’t make a decent book excellent. You can replace ‘good narrator’ with any one aspect you enjoy about books and it would still apply. Don’t pick a book just because it has one thing you like. Pick books that tick multiple boxes for you and you can’t go wrong.
5 ft: The Hype
It is so easy to want to read something that everyone else is talking about just so you can talk to others about it and to feel like you’re not missing out. Often, a book is absolutely worth the hype and it’s absolutely brilliant to be able to finally dive headfirst into the gush-fest with your fellow readers. Every now and again, however, it turns out to not be the book for you. That doesn’t mean you have bad taste or that everyone is a better reader than you. No good reader friend will judge you harshly for disliking a book they love and you shouldn’t be afraid to give hyped books a miss if you know you won’t like it. So, if there’s no room for you on it, stay off that bandwagon. It’ll drive out of town soon and you’ll be glad you missed it in the end.
6 ft: Positive Ratings Alone
A little caveat here, I don’t mean positive reviews in general. I mean the act of just looking at all those five stars rating and going ‘yep, I’ll give that a go’. I confess, I’m guilty of skimming reviews. I should read the reviews in depth and find out anything that might put me off the book in advance. But time and laziness get in the way and I find myself adding a book to my TBR, still with those five stars blinding me to what else the reviewer is saying. Then, when I actually read the book, I find myself wondering what on earth those reviewers were thinking…which makes me go back and actually see what they were thinking. And I realise I’ve been a complete idiot who should have done her research properly.
The bottom line is don’t be in a rush to build that TBR pile of shame. Read the blurb, go through the reviews properly and don’t just add a book for one reason alone. Let’s hope I learn those lessons one day.
Do you agree with my list? Can you think of anything I missed? Let me know in the comments below!
I hope to see you again very soon.