How To Figure Out What To Read Next–Top Five Resources

My to-be-read stack is pretty massive at the moment, but I’m always looking to add new books to it. But just perusing the shelves at a big bookstore or local library can be daunting, so here’s a list of what I think are the 5 best ways to find books you will be excited about reading.

1. Friends who read. Let me preface this by saying that you shouldn’t blindly accept book recommendations from just about anyone. You really need to know a person in order to know whether or not you have compatible book tastes. That said, there’s no better way to find new books to read than a personal recommendation. I’m very fortunate to be in a family of readers, and my cousin Terri and I are always mailing books back and forth to each other. We all really like fantasy/sci-fi, though within that genre we each have a particular favorite type. But I will read anything any of them recommend to me, because we have an understanding.

2. Book blogs. One of the best things about running Reading is my Superpower is that I feel obligated to check out other readers’ blogs, and I’ve discovered so many great books to read. The great thing about book bloggers is that they’re not just reading the newest releases or the hottest books. I’ve been inspired to check out classic literature and overlooked modern fiction by reading what other bloggers are reading.

3. Book reviews. I do like to know what’s going on in the literary world, and I keep up to date by reading the New York Times book reviews every day, and glutting myself on what’s left of the Sunday book section. I also happen to like Entertainment Weekly’s book review pages, because they do a little sidebar of “What’s New” in various types of genre fiction. That’s how I discovered the Temeraire books, and I will admit to occasionally checking out chicklit, if it gets an A.

4. Amazon.com recommendations. They can be annoying, but if you put the time into tweaking them you can actually get some good results. I like the tag clouds they’ve added and the dynamic links so I can see what a book is all about without going to the page. I am also a fan of the “Readers who liked this also bought” feature. The other day I was putting together a list of books that I’d want for the baby I’m having in November, and it was really helpful for calling my attention to all those classics whose names I’ve forgotten. (Also, Bookmooch has an extension for Firefox that pulls ISBNs and makes it easy to mooch right from the page in Amazon.) I’ve joined Good Reads and Librarything and have done a little browsing, but neither is quite as easy to use as Amazon.

5. Used bookstores. I’m as intoxicated as anyone is by the sheer quantities of books in Barnes and Noble and Borders, and I can definitely enjoy myself browsing there. But I’m more likely to walk out of a used bookstore with an impulse buy, because with a smaller, eclectic selection it’s easier to get seduced by a book, particularly an older one or one that wasn’t/isn’t a bestseller. You see books you never would have thought of seeking out in a bigger store, but sitting there on the shelf they seem so appealing and all of a sudden you have to read it.

These are all intuitive strategies–no secret information here–but I think it’s important for readers to remember that there are more books out there than just the latest hot thing. And I wanted to celebrate the things/people who make my reading life so rich.

I wrote this post for Problogger’s Group Writing project–deadline is Thursday.

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