What’s your process for choosing the new books you’re going to read?
In the age of the internet, it’s not that it’s hard to find new books to read. It’s that there’s so much out there, it becomes hard to choose among all the hyped up books that exist. Your time is, unfortunately, limited.
I have gotten to the point where I have very little patience for bad books — so much so that when I start reading a book I consider bad, I come off as actively angry. “How dare this writer publish this book that was clearly not well-written? Clearly not ready for publication? Clearly not worthy of my precious time?!”
Add to that that I generally buy all my books, rather than get them from the library, and I get very put out indeed when it’s turned out I’ve contributed to the sales of a book that is just not good, when I could have been contributing to the sales of something excellent.
So how do I decide which books are worth my precious time (and money)? Here is my new system:
1. Keep a running list/album of books that interest me Confession: I don’t get a ton of recommendations from real-life people. I do have real-life reader friends, but none who are as voracious a reader as I am, and none who have quite the same taste as me (read: I am the person everyone I know comes to when wanting to know what to read next.)
So I mainly rely on the internet. If I’m on a desktop when reading about something, I’ll write the title down in my running list on the Notes section of my phone. If I’m on my phone (more often than not) reading a blog, or scrolling through Twitter or Tumblr or Litsy or what-have-you, I’ll simply take a screenshot of the book cover or title, and save it to my “To Read” album on my phone. Easy-peasy.
2. Go back to that list and do a little research When I decide it’s time to buy a new book (a decision I make way too often given all the unread books lying around my apartment) I open my list and album, look at the titles I saved, and then head to Goodreads. Amazon is a little too general for me; Goodreads is where the real book nerds seem to hang out. Additionally, I’ve been on it for a few years and know by now which users’ tastes are the most similar to my own. So even if there are a bunch of positive reviews on a book, if the people I trust all say thumbs down, that’s the assessment I’m going with.
3. Read the book preview This is almost always a must for me. It’s happened a few times that I’ve just read a bunch of rave reviews, decided that was good enough for me, ordered the book, then been put off by the writing or the voice two pages in. Good reviews aren’t enough. I need a sample of the story.
4. Add to my Amazon wishlist If a book passes my good review + good book preview test, that’s when I’ll add it to my wishlist. I’ve learned this the hard way. The problem with keeping books on my wishlist I’m not 100% sure I want to read is that a birthday or holiday or do-something-nice-for-me day will come up and my loved ones will go to my Amazon wishlist and purchase whatever is on that list. So I make sure the only books on that list are ones I’m sure I want.
Then if I purchase (anywhere; I don’t always purchase through Amazon) I make sure to take it off the list.
So that is my highly refined process for choosing what books to read. What is yours?