How do you choose your next book?

I’m sure we all choose our next books in different ways.

My favoured method for a long time has been to just start reading the book, sometimes after I’ve read the blurb but not always. This works really well particularly when browsing in bookshops or someone’s bookshelves. If I find that I’ve got to the third page of the book without any effort then I’ll probably read the whole thing.

Familiarity with an author is a great way to choose as well. It doesn’t always work out so well though when you find you prefer their earlier work to their later output. Short stories are a potent way of discovering whether you like an author’s style, I’ve sometimes found that the short stories are better than the full length ones or vice versa. What is interesting about that is that the short stories are often about the author finding their ‘writing self’ so you can see development and experimentation going on.

Recommendations are another useful way of finding out what to read. There are the algorithmic, computerised, methods used by Amazon, Goodreads and LibraryThing on the one hand and personal suggestions on the other. Personal recommendations might come from friends, colleagues or family or via FridayReads or forums/discussion groups on places like Goodreads and LibraryThing. It’s interesting how people will ‘sell’ you the book that they really enjoyed, they might not even realise you hate romantic fiction – but there’s a first time for everything.

I’d love to know how you discover what you want to read next. Join the conversation using the comments below.

17 thoughts on “How do you choose your next book?

  1. The choice is always hard in that there are so many in the ‘waiting’ pile to choose from. Quite often it is driven by having heard the author interviewed, been to a reading or read a review. Sometimes it is affected by the book just finished; whether wanting to follow something quite heavy with a lighter read or some sadness followed by a giggle.

    But can I be bold and suggest that if anyone is having real trouble choosing a new book that they pop along to the newly launched interactive website for authors and readers at

  2. My queue of books that need to be read is immense. Books on my shelves! Books from the book expo! Classics on the Kindle I borrowed from my mom! Library books!
    I think I am in no danger, ever, of running out of things to read.
    And every time I read a book blog, or talk to a good friend, I usually come away with a book recommendation or five.
    It’s just a matter of deciding which to read next. I agree with Susan Larson’s comment. Reading a really, really enjoyable and engrossing book makes it so hard to pick what to read next.

  3. Working at a library, I bring home tons more books that I could ever read. The cover or title intrigue me. It’s another from an author I like. I read a review. It’s popular with customers. The books sit in piles on my nightstand and in the basket beside my bed. I browse through them, read a few pages, decide what’s next. Most get returned to the library without being read. There just isn’t enough time!

    But when I find a really good book, like THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett, finding the next read is really difficult. Usually I end up reading nothing for a week or so. Great reads are a hard act to follow.

  4. Zarah says:

    I’m a member of so when I’m finished I have a look around my ‘friends’ online bookshelves to see what they are reading or I look at my ‘neighbours’ bookshelves. It’s a really easy way to do it and what I like most is my friends still surprise me with some of their choices :)

  5. Pamreader says:

    This may sound a little unusual but I like to read books by authors that I’ve never heard of. When I walk into a bookshop what really excites me is finding a book that nobody is talking about… yet.
    The cover and the blurb don’t really matter to me as they can be deceptive. It’s the first line in the book that does it for me. If I fall into the rhythm of that voice, I buy the book.
    It’s always a joy to have read a book that no one was intially talking about, then watch it take off as more and more people discover it.

  6. I never read the blurb! Just start reading, and I almost always give it at least a few pages before I decide whether to continue or not. I do tend to pick up titles I’ve heard of from bestseller lists or book reviews, or still-unread classic titles for a (nearly always) sure bet.

  7. Before my book blogging days, I’d just go with reading the blurb and then reading a few pages. Now it’s a mix of things – blurbs, reviews, blogger reccos and FridayReads. It’s no wonder I can’t keep up with my to-read list!

    • Gary Pooler says:

      Excerpted from Cory Doctorow’s ‘Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town’…

      “What’s the point of a bunch of books you’ve already read?”

      • I’m not clear on whether you’re trying to make a point here. Reading a book is often not enough. It’s the same with any other art form. We like it, we return to it later for the nuances and deeper understanding.

  8. I don’t have any one way of choosing my next book. I work in a library, so it might be an interesting book that has just arrived, or it might be a book returned by a gushing borrower. But, I’m also influenced by recommendations by (online) friends whose reading tastes I know and trust, or by blurbs or by any other recommendation or mention I come across anywhere.
    I’ve got tons of books at home that I haven’t read yet, and I try to read at least a few of those every month, although I don’t necessarily manage to read more then I replace. I’ve also started receiving books for review purposes lately, so I try to slot them in somewhere as well.
    In the end it’s my mood at the time of choosing which determines what book I’ll end up reading.

  9. I’m a fan of the “judge a book by its cover” method. If I don’t have anything in mind, I wander through the library shelves or thrift store book sections and grab whatever visually appeals to me. I do a test read of a few pages and decide from that. Once I get it home, however, I’ll abandon it if it hasn’t gripped me by page 50.

    Otherwise, I pick up reading ideas by whatever trail of interests I happen to have. If I read an article about an author, I might check out that writer’s books. If I’m reading a novel and the protagonist refers to an idea or person or book that is intriguing, I might look for a book related to it. And so on.

  10. Karen says:

    I look for books by favorite authors, and if in a bookstore, look at the books shelved near those. I admit book covers attract me. I read reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I bought one book on by an author I love, in spite of horrible reviews. I ended up feeling that I had totally wasted my money and time, so now I pay more attention to the reviews.
    By entering the first reads goodreads giveaways I open myself to more authors and topics. For example I received one about two weeks ago and now I want to read her first book. Also I may see a title of a book that sounds interesting and add the title to my wish list. I belong to and read the descriptions of new books. I like because it is one of the least expensive ways to buy hard back books. You have a reading list and they send you the top book on your list. The price is always the same (for me 10.65 which includes the sales tax and shipping). There are a few books there that cost more and they have started charging the basic 12.95 for large prints.

    Someone recently pointed out how I could buy used books through and often will look there for a large print title I know I want. Most of the time the books are marked “like new” and they are. Also I look at what my goodreads friends are reading, especially if our lists of books read show a lot of the same books.

    I doubt most of us could afford to do this but there was a rather famous writer who used to buy 5 bestseller paperbacks before boarding a plane. He read the first 20 pages and either tossed the book later or chose to finish it later.

  11. Before I blogged books, it was simple- NPR summer and Christmas picks, what was on the Employee’s Rec shelf of my favorite independent bookstore, a rave from a smart friend, etc. SINCE I’ve started blogging, it’s been a crazy free for all of taking thirty wonderful recs by blogging colleagues I like and trust and trying to figure out, of those picks, which gets the golden, glittering bedtime reading slot.

    If it’s published my McSweeney’s or Europa, I’m almost always in.


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