By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian
Yes, that graphic describes my reading tastes quite accurately. I enjoy books that contain humor—any kind is fine but sarcastic and dark are favorites—and a story that fairly gallops across the pages is wonderful.
I doubt if many readers analyze their book choices—it’s a bit of an occupational hazard for me—but if you did, I suspect you would discover that many of them contain similarities in style. If you come to the Reference Desk and ask me for a book recommendation, I may ask you a few questions such as “what other books have you liked” and “why did you like them”. That helps me find something you’ll enjoy rather than be stuck with a book you don’t care for at all. I expect most people will answer “oh, I really like historical fiction (or mysteries or romances or thrillers)”. Which is a very good start but there are other factors at play in choosing a book.
I’ve already revealed that I want a story that moves fast—snappy dialogue and action. I usually don’t want long descriptions of the lush landscape (unless it’s English countryside) or what the characters are wearing. Just stick to the story and let my imagination fill in the gaps. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn about the people on the pages. Some of my favorite books are character-driven. Give me a quirky, sarcastic protagonist and I’m in reader’s heaven!
Other factors that help determine why you like (or don’t like) a book are the setting—do you prefer books set in the countryside or city, in the US or a foreign country?—and language. Do you mind reading passages in dialect? Not everyone does (and that’s OK). Do you have an affinity for dark, moody books (guilty as charged) or do you want a happier story (I need to read those, too).
So if it sounds like I’m giving you the third degree when all you want is a book suggestion, I’m only trying to determine what you want in a book. I’m not going to hand over “Outlander” if you’re waiting for the next James Patterson book (unless that’s what you want). The task of finding your next, possibly new favorite, book is one I take very seriously. It’s also the one I enjoy the most. It’s also the best excuse for reading—shouldn’t I know about a book before I recommend it?