Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, action adventure
Truth by magnet.

“They” (who are they anyway) say that if a child doesn’t make the transition from picture books to middle grade novels, it reduces the chances of them becoming long time readers. I have no idea if this is true or not. Nor do I remember my transition. It feels like one moment I was reading Dick & Jane (yeah, it was a fun time to learn to read) and the next I was devouring as many books as they’d let me check out of the library.

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, action adventureI can’t say I read everything, but I read a lot of books.  I worked my way around the kids’ section, then started on the adult section. At first it was enough to be able to read books, but then I wanted more. I wanted to own books. Back when I got about twenty-five cents a month allowance, picking a book to buy was serious business. It took me about three months to save up enough for one book–and that’s back when you could buy a book for sixty cents. (Hey, penny candy was an ever present temptation, too!) I still have some of those early purchases on my book shelf.

As I grew up, I acquired a lot of favorites in used bookstores–and discovered some new, favorite authors there, too. With the surge in indie publishing, you’d think it would be easier to find books to read, but I have found that the challenge of finding that “just right” book, that new favorite author, hasn’t gotten easier.

The question of how someone finds books is of interest to me as an author, too, but looking at my own reading tastes doesn’t help as much as you’d think. When I peruse my book shelves I find Georgette Heyer (Regency) novels sharing shelf space with Mary Stewart (romantic suspense), Agatha Christie (I don’t have to tell you what genre, do I?), Jasper Fforde (no clue what to call his genre), and Alastair Maclean (action adventure). You’ll find Gothic (Victoria Holt), science fiction romance (Linnea Sinclair), Elizabeth Cadell, and D.E. Stevenson (both loosely classified as women’s fiction back in the day). I tend to wander among the genres like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park (read it, btw, it was okay) when the power went out.

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, project enterprise series, steampunk, humor
It won a Dorothy Parker Award, and will be releasing in audio in January/2013.

And that’s just my physical book shelves (and only a sampling!). My digital book shelves are even more diverse. I have enough books to read until I die or get senile, but I still keep looking for great reads. It’s like my never ending hunt for the perfect purse (though I continue to find great reads while the perfect purse eludes me to this day).

I know some readers who only shop by genre. Obviously, I am not one of those readers, well, not totally. There are some genres I totally avoid. But if it was only about genre, then I’d grab every book in a genre, but it’s not. I was talking to a friend about this once, and we decided (based totally on our personal book buying preferences), that it is about having chemistry with the way an author uses words, the way they craft a tale, and the type of characters they create.

I can’t tell you how many well written, even interesting books that I never finished. I just couldn’t engage with the story, or their word choice or something. That is what makes book publishing so amazing and so frustrating. If you go search on your top ten, all time favorite novels, you’ll find a bunch of people who hated it enough to go write a bad review. Obviously these are not people you would take book recommendations from. Except, sometimes you can. Cause sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut you might like every once in a while.

One of the best (book) compliments I got was when one of my daughter’s told her husband, “If Mom recommends a book for you, you’ll probably like it. She won’t recommend without thinking about it.” (No pressure! O.O)

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, action adventure
Audio cover, but it’s also available in digital and print. 😉

I think long. I think hard before I recommend a book to friends and family. And often I’ll qualify that with a “might.” My ‘word of mouth’ is carefully considered, because I recognize that reading is an intensely personal experience. In an ironic twist, it also makes it hard for me to market my books, because reading is an intensely personal experience. One size doesn’t fit all.

My books aren’t for everyone, because I write books I’d like to read. It’s the only way I know how to do it. And I have to spend a lot of time with my story, with my characters, so I have to like them. Sorry, but it does have to be about me. (grin)

While I can’t say it doesn’t bother me when someone doesn’t like one of my books, I don’t expect everyone to like my books. I don’t even expect readers who like romance, action adventure and humor to like my books, because there is that chemistry thing.

So, how do you find books to read? That new favorite author? Are you all about genre? Or are there other factors you look for in your books? Word of mouth all important? Whose word of mouth do you believe? Any favorite book blogs you follow? Who is your latest author find?

Let’s talk books, because I love talking books and I love comments. In fact, all comments are entered into my monthly drawing for a $10 AnaBanana Gift card. You don’t even have to ask. You are entered if you comment. Winner is announced the first blog post of the new month (and in this case, the new year!).

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, Project Enterprise

Here is hoping that your New Year is a happy one, and filled with books you have chemistry with!

Perilously yours,


Action, adventure, romance and humor with Pauline Baird Jones.

by Pauline Baird Jones

Book Chemistry or How do You Read?

8 thoughts on “Book Chemistry or How do You Read?

  • December 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Paula, your bookshelves sound so much like my own! Like you, I have eclectic taste which, I suppose, makes it harder to find new authors. It’s interesting that even in this brave new electronic world that surveys indicated readers find new authors mostly through word of mouth recommendations. All I can say is thank goodness for the eBook samples on Amazon. Thank you for this thoughtful post and have a wonderful New Year.

    • December 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      Don’t you just love a bookshelf full of different genres and old favorite books? And I love opening my kindle and seeing the list of books. That is my fortune! LOL! And yes! Thank goodness for samples! Thank you so much and happy New Year to you, too!

  • December 31, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I’ve been very frustrated by my search for a good book. I keep turning back to old favorites. Since I’m getting older and my memory is slipping, I can re-read books now. I know I’ve read them, but I can’t remember the plot. So when that need is aching, I reach for an Andre Norton or Julie Czerneda. I know I’ll enjoy them.

    With authors I’ve never heard of before, I’m leery of trying their stuff. I’ve been burned too many times by books I really disliked. Free stories and books can help. I can test them out without spending lots of money on a book I end up hating. I also tend to buy books when I meet the author and enjoy talking with them.

    But finding books really is hard. No one is sure where to look anymore. Browsing on Amazon is overwhelming. Brick and mortar bookstores are closing their doors. I used to use my local library, but our current town has a small one that’s great for the latest crime thriller or romance, not so much for fantasy or science fiction. A lot of people have started blogs and sites for book recommendations, but finding followers with your tastes is hard, too. Goodreads is probably the most used site.

    And speaking of trying out books and new authors, I haven’t read your books yet. That’s my goal for 2013 – read books by the authors I hang out with online…

    • December 31, 2012 at 10:05 am

      I love the sampling feature on Amazon and use it a LOT. It has saved me many times from buying a book that I couldn’t connect with. I rarely go into the local B&N anymore, because books seem to be the least of their focus anymore (though did you see their hilarious memo before Christmas — to buy more books for their bookstore?). I guess this Christmas had print book buying up a bit from last year. I absolutely won’t buy a print book by someone I don’t know, but if I can sample, sometimes I’ll grab the print book, if it is cheaper than the kindle edition.

      What makes me sad is how little time I have to read! Between writing and LIFE, reading gets backburnered more than I’d like. If I have a really short time to read, then yeah, I’ll reread, rather than start something new and have to stop. (I’ve got yours on my TBR!)

      Goodreads can be both lovely and painful. There is much bluntness there. LOL

      Some days I curse the day I became an author. Now that the nest is empty, I could do a lot of reading–if my own stories weren’t getting in the way!

      • December 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        I’d read more except my eyes aren’t cooperating. Reading on-screen, computer or ereader, is hard on them. Reading print is easier, but I can’t focus for long before getting headaches. Ah, the joys of getting older. (Don’t tell me to try audiobooks, I can’t follow the plot.)

        And my own stories are stirring again. I look forward to reading your books, Perilous Pauline!

        • December 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm

          Have you tried a Paperwhite? or a basic kindle? those screens give me less eye strain than paper. seriously.

          my biggest problem is a) if the book is really good, then i start feeling that i suck as a writer or b) i am more intrigued by my story and don’t finish! so i try to read in the huge canyon i fall into between books. (wry grin)

  • December 31, 2012 at 1:53 am

    I’d love to say I’m leaving a comment for the AnaBanana’s! But as usual, your post grabbed me and kept me hanging in till the very last word Pauline. Great one. I love how sensative you are to not only writers. But Readers first! That tells me that your a wonderful writer. As you said. You only write books you would love to read. Nice!

    Neither myself, or Inion, ever go by genre. Though you can surf the genre’s that you tend to really enjoy, it’s like going into a candy store and heading to one shelf because you know you like the candy. What about the other ninety-five percent of the store?! Our reading tastes are much like our music. Though we have favorites, we are most definitely eclectics & our library holds books of every genre.
    We do a lot of computer research when looking for a book, syn. reading, take SOME, suggestions from friends, because like you, we too believe it is a very personal experience. What might be one man/woman’s salvation and dream-journey, might be another’s nightmare. Funny enough, as I read your post, I recalled recommending a movie, I found fantastic to my computer programmer who I’ve used for ten years. The movie, “Untraceable” with Diane Lane, I thought was incredible & smart. She brought it back to me the next day, and seemed offended by it. “I can’t watch this!” She said to me shocked by my offering. When I seemed dazed, she looked at me and said, “It’s dark!”
    Funny enough, the movie is about computers! I thought, with her being a genius, computer whiz, she would flip out over the usage of computers and the knowledge of them packed inside the movie. But…Needless to say, I’ve been leary of rec. anymore movies to friends or computer techs. lol
    So, once again, great post, Inion and I feel we got more of a peak into Pauline, and we came away smiling. We will be recommending this one to friends. Keep up the great work!

    • December 31, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Aw, thank you so much! Do you know what is so funny to me? You’ll hear writers obsessing about where readers find books, so you’ll go over to the readers side and they are talking about the same thing! I can only conclude that no one knows how they find books. Not really! LOLOL! Oh, that story with the movie, classic and so true! I have done the same thing, but yeah, like you I got burned. There are people I was SURE would love Jasper Fforde and got blink, blink, really? (When I finished the first book, I will freely admit I had one person in mind who would like it and she wouldn’t read it until there were five books, but initially I just sat there thinking, who would like this? Cause I was dying to talk about it with someone. In the end, I did find readers who liked it, but it was my stealth read for several books. LOLOL)

      What’s really frustrating is when you really, actually know someone would like a book and they don’t read it. LOL (I finally got the hubs to read the Lost Fleet books and as I knew, he loved them. Am now trying to convince some of my family that they might like the Laiden books.)

      Is that really why we look? Because we need to talk to someone about it when we read a book that sings for us? Hmmm….

      (And thank you for the awesome comment!)

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