Reading

Why I Bought the Book: Consumer Edition

I’m a literary agent, but I’m also a reader. As a reader, I have reasons for buying a book.

  1. Nonfiction Topics: The topic must address a need or want I’m feeling at that time. For example, if I’m cooking for someone who’s a vegan, I’ll search for books with ideas for vegan dishes.
  2. Fiction Topics: Some topics simply don’t appeal to me as a reader. Authors may note that some readers have triggers and will avoid certain topics. Two of my relatives, for example, can’t abide entertainment containing violence of any kind.
  3. I’m a Fan: I may buy an author’s entire list of books when I’m a fan.
  4. A Striking Front Cover: When I see a book cover over and over, I recognize and may even bond with the book before I open it. Once a reader opens the book, the author is on the way to a sale.
  5. Back Cover Copy: This should tell me if I like where the book will go and what questions the book poses and answers. This applies both to fiction and nonfiction.
  6. Repeated Ads: If everyone is talking about a book, even through paid ads, the book takes on worth in the reader’s mind.
  7. Professional Reviews: Even reviews that point out a book’s flaw(s) can be better than the book not being mentioned at all. I’ll often read books despite a number of one-star reviews.
  8. Reader Reviews: Because I’m a literary agent, I have made the personal decision not to leave reviews on popular sites. However, I enjoy reading the thoughts of others.
  9. Opening: Grabbing readers with that first sentence is critical. Once the reader passes the first sentence, then the second, then finishes the first page, the author should have the reader hooked.
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Words I Can Spell but Mispronounce

A couple years ago I was enjoying a small family reunion with my two older brothers. We were playing a card game, and for some reason I used the word chimera in the conversation. Unfortunately, I failed to take into consideration three things: I had (to my recollection) never heard …

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Do Writers Read Differently?

Writers are readers. Right? Of course, right. In fact, I’d say that if you’re not a devoted, even voracious reader, you might not want to pursue writing for publication, as reading and writing tend to go hand-in-hand. But do writers read differently than other people? And if so, how? I …

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How Are You Reading?

by Steve Laube

I collect books. I graze through them like I’m at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I sample this tidbit and that. Eventually I get enough to eat or have found the right morsel to consume until it is finished.

It helps make me an eclectic sort. But there are days, even weeks, where I must discipline myself to become immersed in extraordinary writing. It is there where the soul can be fed and nourished.

I came across a quote from the great Charles Bridges, a well respected pastor in the Church of England whose Exposition of Psalm 119 (published 1827) is a masterpiece. A couple years later he wrote a book directed at those in the ministry. But I thought it applicable to everyone who reads. Especially in our modern era of content consumption without digestion.

Ardent minds wish, and seem almost to expect, to gain all at once. There is here, as in religion, “a zeal not according to knowledge.”— There is too great haste in decision, and too little time for weighing, for storing, or for wisely working out the treasure. Hence arises that most injurious habit of skimming over books, rather than perusing them. The mind has only hovered upon the surface, and gained but a confused remembrance of passing matter, and an acquaintance with first principles far too imperfect for practical utility. The ore of knowledge is purchased in the lump, but never separated, or applied to important objects.

Some again need discretion in the direction of their study. They study books more than themselves. They lose themselves in the multiplicity of books; and find to their cost, that in reading as well as “making books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Bishop Wilkins observes, “There is as much art and benefit in the right choice of such books, with which we should be most familiar, as there is in the election of other friends or acquaintances, with whom we may most profitably converse.” No man can read everything; nor would our real store be increased by the capacity to do so. The digestive powers would be overloaded for want of time to act, and uncontrolled confusion would reign within. It is far more easy to furnish our library than our understanding.

May you be inspired to think about what you are reading and why you are reading it.

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What Will You Read Today?

Reading at least a few chapters of a book is a worthy goal for each day. One app I have recommends a half hour of reading. Seems doable to me! Since I have at least a thousand books in my collection begging to be read, I’m attempting to be discerning …

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A Different Perspective

When I was in grade school, a nosy neighbor decided my parents were too conservative, so she loaned me some of her old books by Helen Van Slyke. My parents let me read anything in book form, so we were good to go. Helen was a divorced New York City …

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What Were They Reading?

In attempting to declutter, I am culling my book collection. Parting with beloved tomes is one of the hardest parts of decluttering for me since I enjoy books so much! I’m keeping copies of all the books I’ve written and the many I have had the honor of representing. Because …

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Do You Plan Your Reading?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, of course, I mean the annual celebration of our Lord’s nativity, which is rich with meaning and blessing for me and my family. So, Merry Christmas! But there’s something else that makes this time of year wonderful to me: the joyful …

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Read Old Books, Write New Books

C. S. Lewis (maybe you’ve heard of him) famously commended the reading of old books: Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our …

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