Earlier this month, I asked my freinds to tell me why they read the books they do and then I posted their answers here in a multiple guest post Now I've decided to answer the challenge for myself!
I am both a picky reader, and yet, I am willing to take chances as well, because some of my favorite books have been ones that I was somewhat wary of reading to begin with because I wasn't sure if they would be good or not. There are certain things I will always give a go to though-- anything to do with Scottish or Irish history/folklore are a definite. If it has fairies in it, or ghosts then I'd at least like to try it out. I can't refuse books about young men going off to war, especially when the book promises a good brotherly camaraderie between characters. Brothers in Arms stories are always good, and sometimes I'll even go out of my normal genre to read books that have a really good brotherly relationship between characters like "Witchlanders". It's not the kind of book I would probably ever read, but I really ended up enjoying it. I'll also take chances with books that sound different from the normal, like interesting alternate histories, or cool steampunk novels or just something out of the ordinary like Maggie Stiefvater's "Scorpio Races" and "Raven Boys". I don't usually read Romance, and if I do, it's usually paranormal. (No, I don't mean with vampires and werwolves). Usually I like time travel romance, or ones where ladies fall in love with a ghost or something (pretty much Lynn Kurland) or even fairies on occasion as long as the books are not too much like "Twilight". I also like Classic Romances like Alcott. I also rarely read anything contemporary. When I do, it usually has to have some kind of weird thing like ghosts or fairies, or some other thing like Cornelia Funke's "Inkheart" and "The Thief Lord". Though occasionally I enjoy a spy thriller or something of that nature. Fairy and folk tale re-tellings set during the modern era (or any other time) are things that catch my attention too.
I do judge a book by it's cover. Covers get your attention! If the book has an angsty historical guy with bloody weaponry on the front and no girls hanging off of his arm, then that is a book for me! Anything that looks historical or steampunk, are the kind of things that immediately catch my eye. Also anything that looks like Scotland or Ireland do too, although if it's a Romance, then, I probably won't be inclined to read it. Titles also catch my interest, or turn me away, depending. Like I'm not going to read something called "(enter possessive name here) Desire" or anything that sounds like one of those teen romances or modern day books about girls hating each other's guts. But if a book is titled something like "Viking Warrior" "The Rogues" or "The Forest Laird" (to name a few that caught my attention from the title alone) then I'll definitely pick it up. Also if it has a title that is obviously historical, has anything to do with a fairy tale re-telling or something from an old poem or Shakespeare than I'll be willing to at least look further and read the synopsis. However, (except for some very rare times that this kind of title appears in a series I want to read) I will almost never pick up a book that is entitled "(Name your favorite man's name/occupation here) Daughter". I'm sorry, these books just don't do it.
Content factors into how a choose a book too. Unfortunately, a lot of times it's very hard to tell from the description. The only R-rated books I want to read are for violence. I'm not a fan of descriptive sexual content and will not usually read books with that in it. Sometimes if it's a book that is really good besides several moments that really didn't have to be there anyway, I'll just skip around though the book wouldn't get a five star rating. I don't usually like to read books with lots of language in them either. Again though, if I love the story and characters, I can bleep out the language. (Though again it wouldn't usually get five stars) But if there's language + dirty romance, than I won't read the book at all.
I'm also very picky about the kind of characters I want to read about. I usually pick up books with male protagonists because female protagonists can sometimes be very annoying characters. I'm not saying I wouldn't read a book with a main heroine, but if the books smells of the heroine trying to prove a point by being a girl, being stupid, or being an all round man-hater, than I will not even give the book a try. Those kinds of books just drive me up the wall. But guy characters can have their problems too. I don't want to read a book about a guy who's a complete cad. A little barracks room talk is fine, in fact, I like heros who are real guys in every sense of the word, but if he's like James Bond--no. That annoys me. My favorite kind of heroes are the oddballs, the outcasts, ones who go against the normal. (Kind of like my own characters :P) I also like flawed grey heroes. Ones who will get the job done properly. And if properly is killing really really nasty people in nasty ways, than I am totally good with that! I have to admit I don't like goody-goody heroes. Honorable only gets you so far. Pretty much, as long as the guy is honorable toward women, than that's all I care about. He can do anything he wants on the battlefield.
So that's pretty much why I read the books I read. Now I'm going to go read!