Before & After #13 : How I Picked What Books I Read

So you guys. Since early 2012 I’ve been working on this post I wanted to do about the differences between myself as a reader before I was a blogger and after I became a blogger because my habits have changed SO MUCH. I kept putting it off because of wedding plans. I wanted to make this cute graphic that was a list but, when I finally started to work on it this year, it was just looking TOO crowded with about 30 different things and overwhelming and not AT ALL what I had in mind. Then I decided…why not make it a series? The more I thought about it — it would lend to a better discussion if I just give you one at a time. I’m kind of glad my original idea didn’t work out because I’m liking this better. Check the end of the post for previous Before & After’s.

I said I would bring this series back up when I felt like it after taking a break for a while so I’m dusting it off for a couple weeks.


 I didn’t have many ways of getting recommendations. I mostly browsed those tables at Barnes and Noble and then would just go browsing through the shelves if I didn’t find anything worthy on the tables to buy. I would also browse the library a lot. I didn’t have A LOT of people who read so personal recommendations were limited. In 2008 I joined Goodreads and then that became where I found all my recommendations because I became active in the groups on there until I joined blogging in 2010. So basically I did lots of browsing to find books, both in stores, libraries and on Goodreads, so I relied a lot on the summaries and sometimes the covers.

YA-book-bloggerI pick up books now based on blogger recommendations and already knowing what’s out. I’m always aware of what is coming out each season so I guess I still do a lot of browsing but now it’s of publisher catalogs. On occasion I’ll still browse the library (mostly for adult fiction) but mostly I find my books because I’m so involved in this community. I like having a ton of options because sometimes I just had no idea what to pick up before blogging but I do miss that feeling of going in blind and not having heard about a book SO MUCH (I mean, because really, in blogging we hear about books MONTHS and YEARS before they are released so by the time they are in store I’ve already heard SO much about it).



Let’s Talk:

If you are a blogger — Has the way you picked up books changed before/after blogging? How did you used to find out about books?  If you aren’t a blogger — Before reading book blogs how did you find out about books?

Previous Before & After’s:

The Time In Between Two Books – 2/27
Being Up On New Releases — 3/6
Book Real Estate — 3/15
Re-reading — 3/20
Meeting Authors + Myths About Them — 3/27
The Number of Books Read Per Year — 4/5
Recommending Books — 4/10
Chunky Books —   4/17
Reactions To Books — 4/24
Having People To Talk Books With– 5/8
Knowledge of the Publishing Industry — 5/15
The Variety of Genres — 5/22

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Before I was a blogger, I always used the library and – like you – the tables in bookstores. I don’t know anyone who reads, so I had to find things on my own. After I joined Goodreads, I found THE place for me. Goodreads is sacred <3 Every book I want to read comes from that website and I also try to pick book based on reviews I've read from trusted bloggers 🙂

  2. I’d say my way has changed in much the same way yours has. Prior to Goodreads (’07) & blogging (’11) I basically picked up whatever looked good or interesting. If I liked one book by an author I’d search for the rest of their stuff or simply see what covers looked good – I know judging by the cover is THE cardinal sin in the literary world, but it’s how I came across one of my all-time favorite books ever, so there! 🙂

    Once I discovered GR things became SO much easier, if not a bit overwhelming! Suddenly I had all these choices laid out before me and I could read what other people though, it was wonderful. Blogging came along, then publisher’s catalogs and publicists themselves.

    These days I tend to read my books & ARCs according to pub date – especially if the date is quickly approaching! hahaha I’m so lazy sometimes. I still love browsing bookstores and libraries though. 🙂 I’ll even browse GR and see if anything sticks out. I’m well aware of the current releases, but what about books that are a few years old? WHAT HAVE I MISSED? Every once in a while I like making room for an older title too.

  3. I usually pick up books based on blogger recommendations and recommendations from loved ones now! I do miss the days when I would just stroll on over to the bookstore or the library and find a book that interested me. Now, I usually check ratings and reviews before I even decide to pick something up! Hmmm. Thinking about this has me thinking I should challenge myself to do otherwise…

  4. I was never a big browser. I haven’t been to a library in probably 10 years and I almost always know what I want when I enter a store. I used to get a lot of books recs on Livejournal, but that place is pretty much dead now. Then I turned to Goodreads and Amazon, but I tended to stick with the familiar. I’m much more likely to branch out to different genres and authors now that I’m blogging. I still use Goodreads the most, though, even more than other blogs. I’ll see a book on someone’s blog, go to GR to add it, then end up clicking links and add 10 more. It’s a good thing I’m not committing myself to buying all of those.

  5. Well, I’ve been a children’s librarian for the last five years. Two of my main responsibilities were to order all the children’s materials, and provide readers’ advisory to kids and teens. The books I ended up reading were usually based on the professional reviews I read while ordering children’s materials. When I provide readers’ advisory (basically recommending books to patrons) I always start off by asking them to tell me some books they read recently that they liked (so I get an understanding of the types of books they like). That is another way I would find books to read.

    Now, as a blogger, I usually pick out books based on reviews from other bloggers, too.

  6. Before I was a blogger I mostly just read books by authors I already new. I would find a new author when I finished the one authors books. Now I always have a list of books I want to read next whether I found the book on goodreads, my sister, or the blogger world.

  7. Absolutely! Ever since I started blogging a short 9 months ago, I’ve heard about so many books and authors that I might never have read before blogging. I also feel like I have read more genres I never would have explored other wise. Before blogging…I read the same authors and such, rarely branching out.

  8. I always had a way to hear about books before I was a blogger. When I was in high school I worked at my public library so I got to see all the new books that were coming in and could put in a reserve for them because I knew they were coming. I loved processing the new books! Then, once I was in university/college and just after I graduated, I worked at a bookstore. While there I knew all the new books and tons of the backlist. The 30% discount helped fill my bookshelves, too! Interacting with customers, hearing their recommendations and helping them find a book to read, was my favourite part of the job. Starting a blog was a way to sort of carry that on. Now I have an interesting mix of knowing what’s coming out way in advance because of looking at other blogs, Goodreads, paying attention to publishers, and so on. I have some going in blind moments but also have lots of knowledge. I like where I am in my knowing about books 🙂 Great post!

  9. I’m probably in the minority here, but I learn about and pick out books the same way I did before I was a blogger. Though I do hear about releases A LOT sooner than I did in the past, I very much prefer finding books on my own, whether it be online, at the store, or at the library. I don’t always need to be reading the latest release. I’m a mood reader, so I tend to search more for books that fit whatever I’m feeling and read those.

  10. I absolutely agree with you. I probably didn’t read as much before because I didn’t have many friends that read, and it was so hard to find books that I’d like. Now with Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and blogging, it’s so much easier to find book recommendations. Almost too easy, since my TBR list seems to be growing at an exponential rate! lol

  11. I was lucky to have friends who loved reading more than I did, so I always asked them about book recommendations. I’d just tell them what I was in the mood for, either comedy, drama, romance or whatever, and they’d say “here, read this”. Then I went on my own and bought some vampire books and that’s how I got into reading paranormal. Now that I’m a book blogger I have a pretty chaotic way of choosing what books I read. Either I read books that are recommended by fellow bloggers with somewhat similar tastes to mine, or I read about them in some newsletter I get from various authors. Oh, and I’m also always checking out charity shops/flea markets for used books that “call to me”.
    I know what you mean about going in blind and getting the book that calls to you and I certainly wished I had the time to experiment like that again. It is a fun way of discovering books.

  12. Before I was a active on the internet I lived at the library and just grabbed whatever sounded good/had a cover I liked. And then when I started getting active online, originally through the LionLamb Twilight community on Livejournal, I got all my recommendations from a couple of friends I met through that. Since becoming a blogger I just get my recommendations from Goodreads or other bloggers. Goodreads has both been the best and worst thing that happened to my tbr list.

  13. Before I got really into book blogs and booktubers I mainly found books the same way you used to, by checking out the stacks at my local book stores and on Goodreads. Now that I’m much more active on the internet I find myself going directly for the books recommended by bloggers and not spending as much time browsing the stuff I haven’t heard of. It’s kind of a shame, but an easy way of weeding through stuff I probably won’t have time to read anyway.

  14. Yes, blogging has changed how I approach books. Like you I would just wander the shelves and pick whatever had a nice cover or what sounded cool. Now I look at books and I already know what they are about or I’ll be like “I’ve seen good stuff about that” or “that’s gotten pretty good reviews” before I read. Sometimes I wish I could go back to being less informed, but mostly it helps me always get a book I like.

  15. Before I was a blogger, I was like you, browsing the library, shelves at Barnes and Noble and also looking through the recommended pages on Amazon. Now that I started blogging, I use Goodreads and fellow bloggers! It’s amazing how the blogging community has helped me find books to read. I now know all about all the awesome books that are coming out and just pre-order everything! I also have a sister who loves to read so we are constantly giving each other book recs!

  16. I’ve always enjoyed this feature, Jamie, and I particularly liked this week’s topic! 😀 Like you, before I was a blogger and discovered the world of book blogs, I was largely left to my own devices when it came to deciding which books to read next. I knew of Goodreads, but wasn’t an active member until the launch of Pop! Goes The Reader. I would essentially spend hours wandering through bookstores and picking up a random assortment of novels I thought might interest me along the way.

    Now that I’m a blogger, my to-be-read list is dictated almost entirely by the blogging community and reviews I’ve read, and I think there’s both pros and cons to this shift in my book buying and book browsing habits. On the one hand, it’s nice to learn a little more about a novel beforehand in order to gauge whether or not it sounds like something I would enjoy. On the other hand, however, I do miss being excited about a new discovery and going in blind without any preconceptions about what a story might entail. I miss the mystery and element of surprise that I would sometimes experience when I discovered a book I had never heard of before or read one that was truly spectacular. Now, chances are that if I’ve purchased a book, I’ve likely already read five-ten reviews on it beforehand and have a good idea what it’s about. I must admit, it can take a little of the fun out of it.

  17. I find I’m more susceptible to peer pressure since becoming a blogger. I’m more likely to pick up books that “everybody” likes, even if I’m not completely sold on the synopsis, just because the book is popular. I’ve stopped doing that, but there was definitely a phase. I also over-acquired books after I started blogging, like this was some sort of rat race. Before I was a blogger I would borrow from the library and keep caught up on what I own. Now that’s almost impossible.

    • YES peer pressure. There are definitely books I would have never picked up if it weren’t for the pressure. Sometimes that’s been AMAZING because I’ve loved it but other times I’m like SAD..I could have read a book I really wanted to read.

  18. I remember when I was younger and I was picking books, I was doing a lot of it on gut. None of my friends at the time had the same interests in genres as me. So, I do have some books that I wished I didn’t get, but whatever. But now that I’m in blogging and got to know a lot of bloggers over the past 2 years before I started my blog. I can now see what other people have to say about a book before I decide on buying, borrowing or ignoring. The down side is that now what was a manageable TBR pile, is now unmanageable. Thanks guys. Love y’all too!

    • TOTALLY unmanageable hahah. So many pros and cons. Totally WAS based on gut feeling back then as I browsed the tables and tried to decide.

  19. I used to be SO picky about choosing books to read. Like, I would wander the aisles of the library for an hour and leave with a couple books I wasn’t sure about. Now I want to read EVERYTHING. ALL OF THE THINGS. I wasted so much good reading time in my pre-blogging days. Haha.

  20. At the library, if I don’t have certain books in mind, I just look around and pick what looks/sounds interesting. I do find a lot of books from bloggers and the internet in general, but I still go in blind sometimes. Sometimes I avoid reviews of certain books so I can go in blind. I haven’t been blogging that long, and I’m not as familiar with upcoming releases. The way I choose books has changed a bit, but not drastically, I think!

  21. Before I was a blogger, most of my books came from the English book corner in my local (Japanese) bookstores. Most of them were YA PNR NYT Bestsellers, like Fallen, Hush, Hush, Twilight… And of course, there was Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, but that was about it. I used to re-read books really often. But after discovering Goodreads and book blogging, I’ve gone from owning a handful of paperbacks and re-reading constantly to hoarding books and eBooks and wishing I could read AAAAAALL THE BOOKS xD

  22. I think I was very similar before I started blogging. I used to read a lot more classics. Then I joined GoodReads and my to-read list blew up. Now I get a lot of recommendations from blogs and publisher emails. Also a lot of review books.

  23. I feel like my Before & After for this topic would be really similar! I almost always just chose books at random. Based on a cover or summary I liked, from browsing around the bookstore, from another author’s blurb, randomly from a friend if they ever got around to reading anything… And now it’s the opposite! I feel like I’m inundated with recommendations and don’t know what to read next just for the sheer number of possibilities!

  24. I don’t even know how find the majority of my books, but I rarely get word of mouth recommendations…it just happens! I always go for sequels and any other books the author has written as well as books with buzz and books I see on my dashboard on Goodreads.

  25. Yeah I definitely don’t ‘go in blind’ as much as before. It’s a little strange. I worry that I miss out on hidden gems.


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