I’ve been a life-long reader. As a child, I spent my summers in the library reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. Since then, I’ve worked in libraries and bookstores most of my adult life. Spending so much time around books, I never lack for my next read. What I’ve often thought about is what draws me to a certain book. There are definitely a couple of things that help me choose.
One of the easiest choices is to read authors that I’ve enjoyed in the past. There are a number of authors for whom I’ll read anything they write. I loved Harry Potter, so I had to read JK Rowling’s adult novel The Casual Vacancy (it was good, but not amazing). I’ve been a fan of Dennis Lehane since his first novel and I have devoured everything by him as well (his newest title, Live by Night,was a great read about gangsters in Tampa in the 1920s). If I really enjoy a book, I’ll usually try other titles by that author.
In addition, I look at bestseller lists, award winners, and “best books of the year” lists. It seems that nearly everyone, from NPR to the New York Times and even Amazon, publish “best of” lists. I look for things that sound interesting or fall into my reading preferences. I also read a lot of reviews, for both work and pleasure. I find reviews using websites such as Amazon and Goodreads. I also read reviews in the New York Times, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly. This method can also peak my interest in a title.
I also love getting recommendations from family, friends, and library patrons. I know that’s how many people discover a good read. Word of mouth really drives book readership, and in the past few years, word of mouth hits have included The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, and this year’s runaway hit, Gone Girl.
Sometimes I just browse the shelves at a bookstore or the library to see if anything catches my eye. This is more serendipitous, but I’ve discovered quite a few books in this way. Since the library is organized by genre, browsing areas of interest can easily turn up new reading suggestions. With all of these methods, my must-read list continues to grow and grow.
Many people just don’t have the time to do the things I’ve mentioned. Do you need help choosing your next great read? The library can assist you! First, we subscribe to a resource called “NoveList.” It can be found on our webpage under “Research Databases.” “NoveList” is a great tool that allows you to find books and authors similar to titles that you read and enjoyed. For example, if you loved Fifty Shades of Grey you can enter the author or title and it will suggest a list of about 10 titles similar to your request. We also subscribe to “NoveList K-8” for children’s and young adult books recommendations.
We also have a collection of about 20 print titles located near the Adult Services desk in our “Readers Resources” that do pretty much the same thing as “NoveList” but in a paper format. You can look at lists and suggestions made by the authors, as well as find read-alike titles and authors for your favorite book. We also shelve review publications such as Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly in “Readers Resources” for your browsing pleasure.
Of course, none of these things work as well as a live human being, and we’d be happy to help! Just stop by the Adult Services desk, and we’ll do our best to help you find your next favorite book! Most people use a combination of these methods, and I’m sure there are things I’ve missed. I’d love to hear how you decide what to read for your next book.