How to choose a book

You’ve just finished a book you’ve been reading for the last month and you loved it! You didn’t want it to end, but like all good things, it had to. It’s time to move on. But how!?! And why?!?

Choosing what book to read next can seem challenging, daunting, and might even dissuade you from picking up a new book so soon. Luckily, I’ve learned some helpful tips over the years that keep me reaching for that next great read. So stick around if you’re facing an inevitable case of “can’t decide what I want” syndrome.

1. The first thing to do is figure out how much time you can invest in the next book. 

Whether you’re trying to squeeze a book in over the next week, about to go on a relaxing getaway to the Bahamas, or are planning to read a chapter a week and finish in a leisurely 6 months, how much time you can commit to the reading process matters when choosing a book.

You don’t want to start on Anna Karenina two weeks before a huge conference at work when you’ll have no spare time to read the 800 plus pages. That’s a huge commitment, and if you commit before you’re ready, you won’t end up finishing and will be discouraged from picking it up again.

Make sure you know how much time you can invest, and choose the book length accordingly. Feel free to reference the table below to help decide how your time commitment equals to the length of a book.

Time Investment Book Length & Example
1-2 days (when you’re trying to meet your reading goals for the year) 100-200 pages. Animal Farm by George Orwell
1 week (when you’re on vacation and are planning to read at least 2-3 hours/day) 200-300 pages. Lion by Saroo Brierley
2 weeks (when you’re working 9-5 but still want to read at an aggressive pace) 300-400 pages. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
3 to 4 weeks (when you want to really spend some time with a story that pulls you in) 400-600 pages. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
1 month or more (the ultimate investment) 600-1000 pages. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2. Choose a book based on your mood/the season. 

This might sound completely crazy, but trust me on this one. I LOVE reading horror in the fall. Something about the change in scenery and the erie feeling in the air magically transforms me into Stephen King’s biggest fan.

Or when I’m feeling under the weather or a little bit sad, I’ll pick up something like The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (which if you don’t know was published shortly before the author committed suicide). Reading about something sad when you’re sad, oddly doesn’t make you feel any worse, but actually kind of makes you feel better. By reading what these characters are going through I can see that I’m not the only person who’s ever felt this way and I can connect on a deeper, emotional level.

Similarly, when I read a happy book when I’m happy, it makes me even more excited and passionate about what I’m doing.

This is just one of the ways we can use books to enhance our lives. You’re more likely to read and finish a book if you can relate to it, rather than struggling to get through something you’re not into.

3. Pick a book you already own

If you’re anything like me, your TBR (to-be-read) list is longer than the number of days in a year. This means I have a ton of books at home that are just waiting to be picked up. But if I think to myself that I really want to get a jump on that latest release, I have to find time to get down to the book store and spend money to purchase the book. I’m far less likely to get around to doing that than I am to start a book I already have in my house.

It’s important to keep the momentum going, so make sure you have a few books readily available to start within a few days of finishing the last one.

4. Go with your instinct

Don’t worry about sticking to a list you made 6 months ago and force yourself to read something you never wanted to read in the first place. If a book is calling to you, listen. I don’t know why, but every time I think I’m going to read a book and try to force myself to read it, it never works; or if it does work, I don’t enjoy it. The best thing to do is trust yourself – even if it means you based your decision on the cover (shame, shame).

5. Alternatively, make a list and stick to it. This is about whatever works for you!

If you’re the kind of person that needs structure and order to feel normal, that’s great! Make a list at the beginning of the year, write down everything you want to read, and stick to it!

6. Read reviews (last resort)

If I’m having an especially tough time deciding what book to read next, I turn to Goodreads (add me on Goodreads here) and look at some of the reviews. I try to avoid spoilers as much as I can   but this can usually help me determine whether the book fits my mood, or seems like something I’d be interested in at the time. Try it only as a last resort because sometimes reading a review beforehand can actually ruin a book.

7. Listen to your friend’s recommendations 

Finally, if my friend recommends a book really highly, I’m much more likely to enjoy it since we already share similar interests, than a book I found at random one day. I’ve come across some of my favourite reads, simply because someone I know recommended them to me.

I hope this post has helped you figure out which book you’re going to read next, and don’t be shy to leave me a comment below letting me know if it did. Until next time, keep reading 🙂

How to Choose a Book-2


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