Wow,this question is almost as hard to answer as “What’s your favorite book?” (Only ask me that if you’ve got a couple of hours.)
How do I choose my next read?…Hmmmm…
I’m going to be difficult and ask another question: Do you mean how do you choose which books to add to your to-read list, how do I choose which book to pick up next from my nightstand/check out from my to-do list, or how do I choose a random book from a library shelf?
I would really like to just say, “I don’t know.” But let me give it my best shot by answering each of these questions and providing tips based on what I’ve found helpful.
How do you choose which books to add to your to-read list?
This is perhaps the hardest question to answer, because my to-read list seems to grow longer every week. I don’t really have one method to choose books. I like searching Goodreads.com for the latest YA or Fantasy books. It also allows me to keep track of my favorite authors and build online libraries. I’ve recently discovered another useful site called whatshouldireadnext.com. It provides dozens of suggestions based on books, series, and authors. I like to go to these sites first before going to anyone else, because it lets me search for recommendations based on my own preferences. I’ve learned over the years that no one knows what I like to read better than me. If you go on these site, don’t worry so much about whether you’re going to find any books you like or which ones to check out first. Just save any books that look interesting to you.
However, other people can be good resources. If you have family members or friends who like the same kinds of books that you do, don’t hesitate to ask them what you should add to your to-do list. I’m sure they’d love to give you a few recommendations. Unfortunately, most people in my social circle have different tastes when it comes to books. I was so lucky that I had the chance to work in a library during college, and I still walk into libraries often and strike up conversations with librarians about books.
Bookstore employees are also good resources when it comes to building a to-read list. Perusing bookstores is a great way to add new books to your to-read list, and the people who work there are often very well read. I would have missed out on some great reads if I hadn’t gone straight to the professionals. Never be too afraid to strike up conversations about books with people who work with books!
How do you choose which book from your to-read pile/list to read next?
I don’t just check out one book when I visit the library. Two-four books per library visit is usually a standard for me. I do have a system for what I’m going to check out next. I always try to make sure that I know my priorities before I walk into a room full of books.
1. Any new books that I think are worth buying automatically jump to the top of the list. I usually try to find them in a library before I buy them, especially if I’ve never read anything by that author before.
2. New releases by my favorite authors are also priority. This was my favorite perk when I was a library worker. I got to request new releases first. This rule is really a no brainer!
3. Other than that, I try hard to make sure that books don’t stay on my to-read list for years. If you haven’t already, I would recommend that you search your local libraries for the books on your to-read list before you leave your house. I found this out after only a couple of visits to the library where I showed up with a long to-read list and high hopes…and left with nothing. By finding out which books are available, you can divide your to-read list into four mini-lists: available, put on hold, inter-library loan, and find somewhere else. I am never afraid to request a loan if I know that another library has a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.
One final note: Allow yourself some flexibility every time your visit the library. If something you wanted to check out isn’t there, put it on hold and check out something else. You don’t have to keep a rigid 1,2,3 list.
I have a far less scientific approach when it comes to picking a book from the pile of books on my nightstand. Sometimes I open the book that least interests me first so that I can return it to the library and get another one if I don’t like it. Sometimes I can’t wait to open the book that interests me the most. And sometimes I just have to close my eyes and point to a book. Either way, I know that I’ve done the research and have a good selection of books to choose from. You might have to find your own method for choosing your next read if you are a “to-read pile” kind of person.
How do you choose which next random book you’re going to check out from the library?
I always like to leave myself room to check out at least one random book. That way I can let the books that catch my eye actually get a chance to make it from my to-read list to my check out pile sometime soon. Because, let’s be honest, my real to-read list is over twenty pages long.
If you’ve never walked around the library and just pulled random books off the shelf, then you’ve never had a proper trip to the library. Give yourself time to look at whatever book catches your eye. Remember, you know your reading style best.
The first thing that catches my eye is usually a book’s cover. That’s what draws me in. It’s usually pretty easy to see if a book is going to interest me or not. For me, dragons, magic lamps, and swirly writing are all good signs that a book might interest me. I’ve checked out books on this criteria alone many times.
It might be something entirely different for you. Pull out whatever book that you think might interest you and read a few pages. This is actually something really smart to do with books from your to-read list, too. If you start to snooze, put it back. No harm, no foul. But you might pick up something that you really love. Don’t be afraid to just pick a book off a shelf. Most libraries have recommendations and new release selections that are updated often. Look them over, even if you know none of them are on your to-read list.
I know that wasn’t super detailed. The truth is, I don’t have a foolproof inner radar that points me towards my next favorite book. It’s honestly just a combination of an ever-growing to-read list, a good relationship with Goodreads and my local librarians, and a finely-tuned reader’s sense. Reader’s sense is what I call the feeling that a book lover has inside that tells them what they do and do not like in a book. If I haven’t said it enough, this should be your first and last resource for deciding which book to read next, which books you should add to your to-read list, and which books you shouldn’t even check out.
I hope, in some sense, this answered your question. I promise that I will do my best to answer any other questions that come my way. You keep asking and I’ll keep babbling on and on until I reach a conclusion! 🙂