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Guest Post: What Makes the Ideal Book? by Mahriya Zahid

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As indie writers, we rely heavily on the reviews we receive. We all know how important good reviews are, and the difference they can make in selling our babies – that’s why I’m delighted to greet book blogger Mahriya Zahid today, who’s here to talk about what makes the ideal book in her opinion!

Mahriya posts her reviews over on her blog My Booky Life as well as on Goodreads, and is here to share what winning features she looks for when she reads a book.

What Makes the Ideal Book?

What is the Ideal Book? What catches our eyes? What makes us read the blurb? What pulls us in? What’s the secret ingredient? What’s the secret formula?

Who doesn’t judge a book by it’s cover? I mean, can we really lie to ourselves? I’m not saying I don’t look at any other aspects of the book and merely choose it because of its cover. No, I’m saying what makes us pick it up? What makes us slide it out of the shelf? The cover. If the spine or the cover of the book is not appealing, no one’s going to pick it out. But I was wondering what types of books lure us in. I’ve realised that all types do. Some with dark colours. Some light. Some that are big. Some that are small. Let’s have a look at the ‘ideal book’.

You walk into the bookshop or Library (let’s say in this case it’s a bookstore). The fresh smell of crinkled books greets you as you take in the breath-taking sight. You are no longer aware of your T-Shirt that says ‘ Book Worm’ on it. The one you were a bit nervous about wearing. Did it really match your shoes?It doesn’t matter now.  Rows of books surround you. Words jump at you. Pages wave at you. You immediately rush to a random section of the store. You bend down. Time to choose some books.

You run your finger along the spines. You don’t know what you’re looking for. Only books. Nothing else. Your finger stops. It rests on a black spine. The white funny font glares at you. It stands out.

First of all, the title is bold and it’s catchy. Second of all, it’s hardback. You slide it out and feel it. It’s not too big, not too small. You flip it around and read the blurb. It’s about space and a boy and… you take out your money.

Okay, a little story. I found this is a great way to express’ the ideal book’ but let’s look further into this matter.

Elements of The Ideal Book:

  1. The Title/Author. On the spine of the book, there is usually the title/author’s name written there. The title should be catchy and bold. It should lure you in. Nothing too long, maybe it rings a bell. Maybe it was on your ‘TBR’ list. If it’s an author. Maybe it’s well known. Or maybe you don’t really care.
  2. The Cover. It should be appealing. Not too dull. A bit lively and colourful. It should tell you a little about the book and its genre.
  3. The Blurb. It has to be interesting. It shouldn’t be long. It should sum up the book.
  4. The Price. How much is it? Is it incredibly expensive? Is it worth it? The price should be reasonable.
  5. Hardback or Paperback. Personally, I prefer Hardback. Maybe it’s a little heavier to carry home but who cares?
  6. Length. I know it shouldn’t scare you. I mean if it’s a big book, it’s not going to put me off. But sometimes you’re in the mood to invest yourself into a book. Sometimes you want a light read. Depends on how you are feeling.
  7. Series. Is it in a series? How many books are in it? A trilogy? Or is just one book alone? To be fair, I like trilogies and independent books better. If the series is really long (e.g 10 books), it may put me off. However, if I think I’ll like it then I’ll give it a go. For example, the Harry Potter series or The Series Of Unfortunate Events.

These are in no particular order. I think these are the main elements when choosing a book. What do you think? What makes your ‘ideal book’?

Thanks for popping in, Mahriya! But what about you? Do you agree? What do you look for when you buy a new book, or – if you’re a reviewer yourself – what makes the ideal book in your opinion? Grab some cookies and a tea, and let’s chat!

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8 Comments

  1. Titles are very important for me. It needs to talk to me. If it makes me smile, if it sounds mysterious, if it’s very short or super long, I’m interested. Then I look at the cover. If it doesn’t seduce me, I might put it down. I have refused to read The Selection because of the cover. I also hate it when a blurb says too much of the story. I want to have a hint of what I’ll find, not a complete sum up or details that should be discovered in the middle of the story. And of course, the price. If a book is too expensive, it’ll most definitely stay on the shelf. I love books, but when you realize you can buy three for the price of one, the choice is easily made!
    Great post!

    • I completely agree! I’ve chosen not to read books because of the cover, too. I know I shouldn’t, but if the cover looks like no effort went into creating it, then it doesn’t make me feel very hopeful for the book itself.

      I feel the same way about the price! Recently I found a reduced eBook, which cost (roughly) £8. I’m happy to pay that for a paperback, but for a download? What makes that book so special? I could buy at five or six eBooks for that! Choice easily made indeed!

  2. Great guest post, Mahriya!
    There are so many factors at play when it comes to choosing a book. If I don’t know what I’m going in for when I enter a bookshop, I tend to look for a cover that catches my eye. If the blurb strikes home, it’s the first page test that clinches the deal for me. The price plays a big part too, but I never really think about it until the book is hand. If the book sounds really amazing, I’ll try to overlook a more expensive price. If not, then I turn to the online stores for discounts 🙂
    Thank you ladies for sharing 🙂

    • That’s precisely how I choose my books if I don’t know what I want 😀 Cover, then blurb, then first page! I’m rarely put off by the price, although there was one novel I really wanted earlier this year, and the paperback was £16 I think. I don’t care how good the book is, that’s not going to happen!

  3. A brilliant post.
    I am always attracted by the cover/spine first, and that gives me a hint of the story.
    I read the blurb followed by the first page and a random one in the middle. I like to see a few pages in to get a real grasp of the writing if I am unfamiliar with the writer. Price isn’t usually an issue, unless it is brand new and at the upper end of the price range. If that’s the case, then I just make a note of the title and save it to another time.

    • Thank you! Some books (in the blurb) direct you to a specific page to give you a taste of the book. I actually quite like this and I wish more books would do it!

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