It’s no secret around here that I read, and read a lot. I haven’t been reading as much recently with some other personal projects needing more time than usual, but during a normal period it’s not unusual for me to read two or more books a week. Sure, that’s takes a lot of time but it’s not the hardest part – what is is choosing what to read next.
Now, it’s important to know that I do review books for several publishers. This makes it easier to decide my next book as they generally send me things they know are within my lines of interest, but for the sake of this post I’m going to focus on how I choose books when I’m standing in a book store or library free to choose anything I wish.
1. Start with a genre
For me, I jump around in terms of the types of books I read. For the most part, I gravitate toward suspense and mystery but I’ve been known to pick up a good memoir, historical fiction, or even romance novel every so often. Maybe I don’t know what I want, but starting with a genre or two that I’m willing to consider tends to help me narrow down the options.
2. Peruse the covers
I’ve heard “never judge a book by it’s cover” at least a bazillion and a half times, but let me tell you something – I toooootally judge every book by it’s cover. If there’s one that seems modern, the typography is eye catching, or it’s got a good color pallet then I’ll probably at least pick it up and see what it’s about. For some reason books that look like they just have a stock photo slapped on or were unprofessionally designed tend to get a pass from me. That’s probably means that I’m missing out on some truly amazing stories, but that’s just how my own brain works.
3. Consider the length
I’ve never been the kind of person who opts for the longest or shortest books in order to impress someone or speed through it quickly. Usually, I’m a 300-400 page book person. Outside of that range and I’ll start to wonder whether I’d really want to hold up a book that’s heavy or if I’ll be disappointed that a book didn’t feel fledged out. Again, a totally superficial thing but that’s a factor I consider.
4. Back blurb
After I’ve superficially and harshly judged the options, I’ll read the back cover or jacket panel to get an idea of what the books are about. If there are any topics that I don’t want to read about, that makes it easy to weed out some of them. Otherwise, this is generally where one or two really jump out as the best picks for right now. I say “right now” because what seems interesting today might not seem as compelling two weeks for now. For that reason, I usually try to limit myself to one book purchase at a time so that I don’t risk no longer being interested and feeling like I’m obligated to read something because I bought it previously. Plus, secretly, this enables me to return to book store heaven all that much sooner.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, I follow recommendations. I love the community on Goodreads because they’re constantly recommending great books for me to check out. I have friends that know when I might like something, my mom will recommend something that she’s recently read or thinks I would enjoy, or I’ll see something recommended on a blog like my own. Recommendations are valuable when making a decision because someone is putting their name and reader-reputation behind it. For the most part, people don’t recommend things that they don’t truly enjoy so I try to keep that in mind.
Because I brought up recommendations, I want to recommend a book that I love personally. The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer is a book that I read last year when it initially debuted and I recommended it to everyone (I even reviewed it on this blog here). Recently it’s been released as a paperback so I’m giving away a copy for free! Simply check out how you can enter below.