One of the most frustrating things is having the time to read a book, but not knowing what to read. Although, perhaps the only thing MORE frustrating is having the time to read, only to find out that you don’t really like the book you thought you were going to love.
Of course it’s inevitable for these kinds of things to happen, but I’ve found I can decrease the likelihood of this by using a few key book-finding strategies.
1. Personal Recommendations
Not all recommendations are created equal. I used to think I needed to be nice and give everyone’s suggestions a chance, but I soon learned that since reading time is precious, I need to be spending it reading books that I’m going to enjoy reading, or that are going to teach me something important. DON’T FEEL BAD when you don’t take someone’s recommendation. It’s kind of them to offer it, graciously thank them for it and just keep on moving on with your life. BUT, if you’re lucky, you’ll find those people who seem to always have a really interesting book on their nightstand. Hold them close :). I’ve found it’s a true gift to have those kinds of people in my life.
2. Who Published the Book?
It helps to “get to know” the publishers. If you are being observant while reading a variety of books, you’ll begin to get a general feel for kinds of books the different publishing companies put out. You will probably even find yourself gravitating towards certain publishers or imprints (imprints are the different divisions of one publisher). For example, I know that I’m probably going to love anything published by Intervarsity Press. Their books have a trek record of being high-quality, thoughtful books. I also know that they are a not-for-profit, meaning that they can publish books with interesting views because money is not their bottom line. On the other hand, I have a love/hate relationship with Tyndale books (sorry, I know lots of people love them, i don’t know, it’s just a thing), so because I know this about myself, I can be extra cautious when choosing a book published by them. I’m signed up on several publishers’ email lists, and they send me newsletters about upcoming books. I quickly scan and add it to my amazon wishlist (which is more like a “to-read” list than a “to-buy” list) or my Books I Want to Read pinterest board.
I have a few go-to blogs that keep my book lists full :).
Modern Mrs. Darcy: I just started following her blog a month or so ago, but I already look forward to her updates. This lady loves to read a variety of books and she seems to always have a book ready to recommend.
Englewood Review of Books: A weekly review of books put out by Englewood Church in Indianapolis, this site has been HUGE for me in connecting with interesting, kingdom of God, “another world is possible” kind of books. They have a weekly newsletter where book reviews are sent right to my inbox, as well as a quarterly print magazine with its own set of book reviews.
Amazon.com: Weird, right? Well, not so weird, really. They have a really good algorithm going on that shows me books I’m pretty much going to like. If you click on a book, scroll to the bottom, and you’ll see a list of what other customers also viewed. I love scrolling through these to find books I haven’t heard about. About 50% of the time, I’ll add a book to my list.
Her.menuetics: A blog of Christianity Today, the women who contribute are thinkers, which I love. The blog continually updates their side widget (see: “What We’re Reading” –good stuff) and I also like to look up the contributors to see if THEY have written any books. Many of them have.
If you’re on the fence about a book, check out the inside cover and see who endorsed it. Do you know any of the people? Are there many people who you have heard of but don’t really agree with their outlook on life? Or do you enjoy reading those who are endorsing the book? I always think that I’m going to like a book, even if I don’t really enjoy the endorsers (“Oh, I’m sure it’ll be great. How could this book NOT be good?”). That decision has been a bad choice every. single. time.
I currently have 37 books on my amazon wishlist, 20 library books on my desk shelf, and a big board on Pinterst that I want to get to and I’m pretty sure I’m going to like most of them. Hopefully these tiny tips will help your next book be one you can’t put down! 🙂