As a reader, I’m always looking for my next great reads.
Sometimes I read books selected by the book clubs I belong to. Sometimes I read as part of a research plan for my current writing project. But most of the time I read for my personal enjoyment, and I keep a running list of books that have randomly crossed the path of my consciousness and intrigued me.
The problem is that I often times rely on the law of randomness to even become aware of a book’s existence when there are indeed a variety of sources that could help me narrow my focus to exactly what I’m in the mood for. Here are 5 such sources.***
Amazon is a pretty awesome search engine.
I normally think of Amazon as a place to shop for what I already know I need or want. But it’s a great place to browse, too. For example, I typed in Top 100 Kindle Books, to see what’s available in eBook format that’s currently popular. For a reason I don’t understand, the search yielded not 100 but 1,928 books.
Still, as you can see, there are all kinds of menus you can pull down to help with your search, like New Releases or New York Times Best Sellers. Or, using the margin on the left, you can filter your search by genre. By choosing Literature & Fiction, and then choosing Family Saga, I can narrow down the search to only 19 novels. The cool thing is that you can do your browsing here, but then you can go buy the book at your favorite book store if you prefer (reverse showrooming). But shhhh! Don’t tell Amazon I said that.
BookBub is what the New York Times calls the Groupon of eBooks.
BookBub is an email service that’s free to millions of readers, and its goal is helping these readers discover new books. Readers sign up and choose their preferred genres and email preferences. Then BookBub sends out daily newsletters notifying the readers of select authors in their genre who are promoting books for free or at discounted prices, with a link to buy the book. It’s like eHarmony for readers and writers. As many of BookBub’s authors are highly acclaimed ones like John Irving or Amy Tan, and as selective as BookBub can be, it was an honor when I learned my novel, The Damnable Legacy, was accepted. Watch for it in a BookBub newsletter blast Tuesday, March 22!
Whichbook helps you decide, well, which book.
Whichbook is an online service where you can keep lists of what you want to read, and it will tell you where you can buy or borrow the books. It’s a UK-based service, but if you’re not in the UK, it will still refer you to WorldCat, which will then list nearby libraries that carry the book you’re looking for. My books aren’t yet on Whichbook, but when I searched for The Poisonwood Bible, and said I wasn’t in the UK, it sent this handy info to me:
As you can see, the book is shown as available in several local libraries.
Goodreads is also handy when it comes to searching for anything.
Just for kicks, I Googled “Popular Books on Goodreads,” and a zillion options popped up. One of them was dated 2/29/16 and was titled “Most Read Books This Week In The United States.” Clicking on that link, I found fifty popular books in the USA, although I could have changed my country and found the top fifty books in the UK, Zambia, or lots of other places. It’s a fantastically fun and easy way to see what the world is reading, and you can see how many stars each book has earned on average, too.
Check in with a good old-fashioned bookstore or library.
All of these other tools for selecting your next read are great when you’re in your pajamas, it’s raining outside, and you don’t want to leave home. But there really is no better place than a local bookstore or library to make your final selection, especially if you want to read an old fashioned book you can hold in your hot little hands. Wander the aisles for the cover and title that calls out to you. Smell the paper, flip through the pages, and read random passages. Or ask a store associate or librarian to recommend a book based on what you’re in the mood for. It may not be the most systematic way of narrowing down your choices, but it’s often the most fulfilling one.
***I’m probably in major trouble with my publisher now, but while writing this blog I totally forgot about Booktrope’s Runaway Goodness, a newsletter similar to BookBub that sends you a curated list of books based on genres you choose. Check it out!