How To Choose Your Next Read
I’m frequently asked how I pick which books I read. I wonder if people are expecting a complicated formula that leads to the greatest literature. Hmmmm…maybe I’ll work on that.
I’d like to be able to say “I read whatever I want,” which I suppose is partially true. I rely heavily on my intuition and the influence of previous reads.
Timing is everything when it comes to having a positive reading experience. My bookish bestie Lea is reading The Handmaid’s Tale right now, which she read in part for a Political Science class her freshman year of college (she adds that it was an 8am class!) I know she’s going to totally dig the novel now, yet I can also completely understand why she wasn’t into it 20 years ago. I can’t imagine trying to process that dystopian world when I had barely lived on my own.
It’s difficult to know when is the “right time” to encounter a book, so that’s why intuition is important. It’s also why I’m a fan of quitting a book that I’m not loving. I’ve owned books for months, or even years, before finally feeling “the call” to read it.
While I’d love to read strictly based on what I’m interested in next, my reading challenges can throw a wrench in that, as well as my newly made commitment to NetGalley.
If I chose from all the unread books in my house each time, I’d be overwhelmed. So I break them down into chunks and make my selections in a series of stages.
I have a shelf in my bedroom that is specifically my Immediate TBRs. This is separated by fiction and non-fiction. (I usually have one of each going at all times) If a book is on this shelf, I intend to read it before the ones in my office.
Generally I have an idea of which book I’ll start next. If I’m not sure, I’ll sit in front of my Immediate Shelf and see if anything jumps out at me. Usually something does. Quite often I scan the titles and end up thinking Oh yeah, I forgot about that one and get super excited about a book!
Books I check out from the library go on this Immediate Shelf as well. I try to get to those as quickly as possible, and I’m currently limiting my library borrowing to reading challenge books only so I can get through what I own ( but who knows how long that will last!)
It’s not a scientific system, but it works for me. So my advice to you is: follow your gut and your interests. If a book looks or sounds good to you, go for it. If it turns out you’re not loving it, quit and move on to something else. Either way, let the books you enjoy (and don’t enjoy for that matter) be your guide.
Let me know how it works for you! And if you already have a system that works, please share in the comments!