How I Choose Books: Part Method, Part Madness

By Wednesday, April 27, 2016 , ,

“How do you find so many books you want to read?”
“How do you keep finding books you know you’ll like?”
“Where do you look for books?”

I get these questions and similar ones pretty often, so I’ve been thinking about my go-to methods for building my neverending to-be-read list. It’s haphazard in some ways and planned out in others. And I’ve realized that there’s not a one-size-fits-all way to do it. Everyone has different reading tastes and speeds, so my advice is simply to find a way that works for you. The most important thing is simply to always be looking for books! That’s primarily why I always have a big list – I’m always going to be keeping my eyes and ears open for new titles, even if I know I won’t read them immediately. But I’ve also developed a few habits that have helped me keep a growing TBR list, so hopefully these ideas will be beneficial to you too. 

1. Browse Book-Related Blogs and Articles
I follow a good collection of bookworm-friendly blogs and social media accounts, so there are always new reviews and recommendations popping up. I keep a bookish board on Pinterest, so fairly often I’ll see pins along the lines of “6 Books that You Can’t Put Down,” “12 Books Everyone Should Read by Age 42,” “7 Books Great for Winter Reading,” and so on. Be on the lookout for articles like that! You never know what you’ll run across. Here are a few of my favorite book browsing resources:

Books & Beverages 
Modern Mrs. Darcy: Books & Reading 
What Should I Read Next Podcast 
Book Fifty 

2. Pay Attention to Amazon Recommendations
Amazon is one of the world’s greatest inventions, I’m firmly convinced. It’s certainly one of the best places for book shopping, as every title you could think of is bound to be on there. And it knows you! Yeah, it’s maybe a little creepy, but it can be helpful. Based on your searches and purchases, it’ll auto-generate other product suggestions, and this feature is worth paying attention to while book browsing on there. I’ve come across plenty of fantastic titles on good old Amazon and always keep an eye out when I’m looking there an on Audible, their excellent audiobook branch. 

3. Follow Authors You Already Like
 This isn’t as obvious as I used to think, so I encourage you to make it a habit if you haven’t already! If you like one thing by a particular author, there’s a strong chance you’ll like their other work! Keep up with what they’re doing and read up on when their next book will come out. And this isn’t as hard as you might think. Most authors have a website and at least one or two social media pages. By simply liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter, you’ll be able to see most of their important updates. 

4. Take Chances
Every so often, I’ll chance it and buy the book straight off the shelf after reading the summary or the first chapter. This isn’t a frequent habit, but it can happen, and I’ve discovered both favorites and some pretty awful ones this way. Some people are wary of this method, but I think it’s worth trying every once in a while. I wouldn’t have discovered Julie Klassen’s work if I hadn’t risked the technique a few years ago, so I’m extremely glad I branched out and found a new all-time favorite author! (Read more of my thoughts on her books here and here

5. Talk to People and Keep a List
And of course, for all the Internet browsing you could do, you can’t ever go wrong by simply talking books with other people. Asking trusted friends for recommendations or simply putting out a Facebook post asking for suggestions is always guaranteed to get you good ones. And keeping an easily accessible list has done wonders for my reading life. I’ve found the reading journal from Modern Mrs. Darcy to be immensely helpful, and I also have a running list on my phone of what I want to read, am currently reading, and already have read in this calendar year. I always have at least one of these nearby, so keeping a record isn’t a massive chore. I think tangibly seeing progress is helpful for anyone. 

Are these ideas helpful? How do you choose books? Is it more random or planned? Do you keep a reading log? I’d love to hear your ideas or methods!

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  1. I have been reading Modern Mrs. Darcy for a few years, but I have really found her podcast so helpful! I've been reading up a storm this year after a very quiet reading year last year, and it has made me so happy. :)

    1. I've loved her podcast too! I think I added three titles to my list after listening to just this week's episode. I've recently gotten back into the swing of reading too; about a year ago was when I really started pressing in and keeping a system and it's been so much fun!