With only a little over two weeks left until Labor Day, I thought today would be a good time to talk about how to find books you will like. I will preface this post by saying that for me the problem isn’t finding books I want to read, the problem is finding time to read all the books on my to-read list! But I do know that it can be a difficult thing so let’s talk about it.
I think the first and most important thing is to decide what you enjoy reading. Romance? Murder mysteries? Literary fiction? Memoirs? There are so many different genres and I really believe there is something for everyone. (In other words, I don’t believe people who say they don’t like to read, I just think they haven’t found the right book for them.)
Identify what type(s) of genre you enjoy but also identify what elements of a book you enjoy. Is it beautiful writing? Intricate plot details? A setting that feels real? Characters who come alive on the page? Those factors, coupled with the genre, should really help you to identify books that you will enjoy.
Once you’ve identified what you’re looking for in a book, then comes the really fun part . . . finding a book to read! Ask around and see what your friends are reading. Check out GoodReads. Head to the library and peruse the shelves, ask the librarian what’s hot right now, or (even better) ask what was hot in the past as it’s more likely to be on the shelf and available. Check out ebooks on Libby and hoopla. Visit a local book store. I guarantee you that if you ask someone who reads a lot to make a recommendation they are going to do so with incredible enthusiasm! Spoiler alert: people who love to read also love to talk about (and recommend) books!
Finally, make a list of all those recommendations. Personally, I like GoodReads for tracking what I want to read but you should use whatever works for you, whether it’s online or making notes on your phone or using pen and paper. However you decide to keep track, just make sure you do because the more books you list, the more likely you are to find something that you want to read. In other words, if you have a rich list to choose from then you’ll find a book to read no matter what you’re in the mood for and no matter what’s currently available to you. Believe me when I tell you, there are times when it’s the right book but the wrong time (and those titles should go back on your list for another shot) just as there are times when you’re in the mood for a big juicy novel or a light cozy mystery. A list with lots of options will make for a list that you can turn to over and over again.
I hope you’ve found this helpful and I’d love to hear about how you choose what to read next in the comments. (Don’t forget . . . there are prizes for leaving comments on these posts!)
I keep a running list. I get recommendations from friends, book reviews, newly published lists, and of course, blogs! I agree, sometimes a book gets a second chance if it doesn’t capture my attention on the first try and sometimes the book just isn’t for me no matter the great review.
Somehow, I never seem to be at a loss for what to read . . . My bigger issue is deciding from the embarrassment of riches all around me. 😉 You’ve given great advice for combing through the overwhelming reading options out there, Carole! I’m really enjoying your summer reading “program!”
Excellent suggestions here! As a former library assistant, I used to feel really good about putting a book in the hands of a middle-schooler that said they “hated to read” and having them return later asking for “more books as good as this one”. I think your right book/wrong time suggestion is a good one to remember and has been true for me quite a few times. (I think I should have read Bomb Shelter 20 years ago!)
My greatest joy is sharing book suggestions with people! And, like Kym, choosing from the embarrassment of riches is not the worst problem to have!
This summer reading program has been incredibly wonderful, Carole!
“Spoiler alert: people who love to read also love to talk about (and recommend) books!” HA – yes!! I choose what to read next mostly based on upcoming bookclub discussions, library holds, and mood. I get recommendations from all over the place and my biggest challenge is whittling down the list. Lately (daughter) Katie and I have been reading together a few titles each month and that’s helped me prioritize – I will drop everything to read something she’s excited about!
What a fun idea for summer reading posts Carole.
I get email from my three local/independent bookstores which helps me keep up with new books. I cruise my library website for new items and love, love, love that they have a weekly blog full of recommendations from the librarians. I have a very full For Later shelf on my library account so I can easily find something to check out.
And of course I have many bookish friends who are always putting good titles in my path.
Interesting post, Carole. I like to read character driven books, rather than simply plot driven books. However, when I find a character driven book that has a great plot, I am in heaven. It has taken me a long time to figure out that is what I most desire in a book, and I most often find it in serial mysteries, but I also find it in literary fiction. I love following a character arc over time in multiple books. So, it doesn’t matter to me so much whether or not it is fantasy, mystery, etc. I need to find a source that recommends character driven books!
I find that I never have a shortage of books I’m interested to read thanks to blog friends who love to read, too, and Zooms and Read With Us. I probably have a list of books I want to read that I’ll never finish! One thing I do like to do is to tag books I’m interested in reading “to read” on Libby. When I’m between holds and am not sure what to read next, I go to that list and see what’s available.
Good post Carole. I was remembering that years and years ago – long before computers and the internet and Zoom, etc. I would get recommendations from a girlfriend (and still do), from my parents – particularly my Dad and from my Grandmother and Aunt. All avid readers. Now, of course, all my blog friends offer up suggestions weekly. My TBR list (which I keep in Excel on my laptop) is so long and growing constantly. But that’s a very good thing! I also have a wealth of books in my house that I have yet to read. Like others I need more time to read!
I have a piece of paper I take when I got to 2 used book stores of older books (or books in a series) that I’m looking for. This year I discovered Thrift Books so I have another option for older books I’m looking for.
I love to go to the library and check out the new book section, or sometimes I just wander the isles to see what pops out at me. I also get ideas for books from people I follow on Instragram and podcasts I listen to while working.
Margene Smith says
You have many great recommendations on finding something to read or finding what types books you as a reader like. I can’t believe summer is two weeks from ending!
Julia in KW says
I use Goodreads for my tbr list (and to remind me if I’ve already read something)…I take recommendations from bloggers I read (hint, hint ?). I also get suggestions from my sister, father, newspapers, bookbub and so many more. I read mostly e books now, though I also have a stack of paper books as well to read. I use the library for books I don’t necessarily want to purchase (long series for example) and often for audiobooks. When library books come available, I drop everything to ensure it is complete well before due date!
I love to help my students (and anyone else who asks) find a new read. AND I enjoy seeing what you’re reading on Goodreads!