With the season of summer reading upon us, I’ve been noticing the way different people in my life get their book recommendations. Some of my relatives who are the most avid readers tend to pick up a slightly different pile of books than I do because they’re going to the New Yorker and the Times’ Sunday Book Review for their recommendations, while I am more likely scouring websites, blogs, Tumblr and even Instagram. My life partner, meanwhile, loves to walk into a bookstore, read the blurbs and descriptions on the back of books, and take a risk that way, usually finding books that are either a giant hit or a total miss. Then there are readers who rely on word of mouth, on what “everyone is reading” or what’s selling really well at their local or chain bookstore.
Combining this fascination with how we choose what we read and my other recent obsession — personality tests — along with common debates about whether plot matters more than prose style and whether novels should be uplifting or depressing led me to come up with a simple, thoroughly unscientific quiz to diagnose eight readerly personalities. Answer the following questions, then move forward to find your books.
1. Do you get take book recommendations from critics (C) vs. or audiences (A)?
Are you scouring the literary reviews or polling your pals and bookstore clerks?
2. Do you prefer your fiction uplifting (U) or depressing (D)?
Do you like your endings Jane Austen style or Hemingway-esque? Do you want to feel beautiful sorrow or triumphant hope as you close a book?
3. Are you more interested in a gripping story (S) or inventive prose (P)?
Does a Joycean sentence make up for a pedestrian plot? Or would you prefer the twists and turns of a Dickens novel and happily ignore the workmanlike sentences?
Put your answers together, find your three-letter combination, and then find your book!