How to Choose What to Read Next
My bookshelf — which we only recently moved from our apartment — is already steadily filling up even despite my reading hiatus that began in high school and ended only recently. I’m excited though, because I’m reading things that make me think, laugh, cry, and a whole bunch of other emotions and feelings.
But I find myself in a bit of a bind every time I finish a book, and this is where I end up falling by the wayside—
How do I decide what to read next?
On Goodreads, nearly 40 books in my “to read” shelf sit idly. On top of disciplining myself to keep reading, I sometimes get stuck in a choice paralysis once I finish a book (it ended up happening once I finished The Tipping Point). There are so many books that I want to read that, instead of committing myself to just picking up a damn book, I say, “Well, since I’m not sure what to read, I’ll just play video games now and decide later. It’ll be future Connie’s problem.”
So now, as my responsibility as “future Connie” (can I ever actually be “future Connie” if we can never be, presently, in the future?), here are some methods to get over that choice paralysis:
1. Look at your Goodreads list
With our cellphones and computers acting as extensions of our memory and consciousness, why not just look at what’s been shelved on your “to read” shelf and just “eeny-meeny-miney-mo” it (or even just pick the first one listed)? Really can’t go wrong with that method, since you’re the one who added the books, you have no excuse!
2. Use WhatShouldIReadNext.com or an equivalent website
Particularly useful if you have yet to build up your reading list. If you really enjoyed a certain book, just pop that bad boy into the search box and it’ll spit out recommendations that are similar. Obviously, you’re not going to want to read every suggestion that it gives, but it’s definitely a start.
3. Ask your friends or coworkers
I exclude family from this because, well, you can choose your friends (who, in many cases, share similar interests as you), and coworkers can sometimes give great suggestions for books that will help you professionally. The worst case is you never read what they suggest (and you only might have to bear with those “did you read it yet?” followups).
4. Look at what movies are coming out soon
But don’t become a book snob. I totally get the mentality that “the books are better“, but there’s a reason why books are books and movies are movies. They’re just two totally different beasts with two totally different treatments.
Anyway, if a movie that’s based on a book (an adaptation) is coming out, why not read what it’s based on? You don’t have to watch the movie afterwards, but it’s always interesting to reflect on how your imagined version of a book’s world and its characters differ.
If you end up watching the movie before reading the book(s), that’s fine too. You’ll get much more vivid scenes playing out in your head, though sometimes you’ll suffer from discrepancies between the movie character portrayal and the character as described in the book (because, you know, it’s unrealistic for actors and actresses to change their physical features to match a book character’s to a T).
5. Subscribe to newsletters/follow RSS feeds
By publishing house, by media outlet, by genre– this is probably one of the most force-fed ways for you to get suggestions straight from a source. Here are a few (non-publisher-specific) that might be of interest:
- New York Times Books
- The Guardian Bookmarks
- The New Yorker
- The Slate book review
- The New York Review of Books
- Publishers Weekly
Of course, that’s just a small list of the mass number of places you can subscribe to. These just happen to be what I can remember off the top of my head.
6. Read blogs
I love blogs because they’re super personal, so if you end up loyally following bloggers who give book suggestions, why not give those books a try?