How to find what book to read next


I have a problem with finding books. My to-read shelf has expanded past 100 and I’m barely on track to meet my yearly goal of 30 books (I’m at 13). Thank goodness for Goodreads, which makes is easy to bookmark interesting books I find through various channels — surfing the Interwebs, personal recommendations or books that just catch my eye while I walk through a bookstore.

But recently I’ve had luck with leaving my book selections up to the library. I’ve been taking advantage of my local library’s digital book collection to save money. Spending $10 a book every week or so gets old and expensive fast. Generally there’s a waiting list for digital books at the library so I put my name in for several books at a time and wait for them to become available. When one pops up, I download it and get reading — doesn’t matter what it is or if I’m really in the “mood” for it.

This means I’m constantly reading something different — something I need or I’d be reading fantasy and young adult novels all the time.

So far this year I’ve read “The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman (about a failing English-language newspaper based in Italy and how the lives of its writers, editors and owners intertwine), “Columbine” by Dave Cullen (a full account of what led up to the murders in Colorado, what really happened during the siege and how the town and the media coped in the aftermath) and more recently “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht (a story contrasting contemporary realism with a mythical history) through this “wait and see” method. Granted I also struggled through “Things Fall Apart” for this reason, but I got through it and now I’ve checked another book off my list.

Sure that means I need a list to pull from to put books on hold in advance in the first place. So even though my to-read list is getting to be uncontrollably high, I’m also looking out for new books all the time. Recently I polled Facebook and Twitter friends for their recommendations.

Here’s what I’ve been recommended (and I’ll likely read a few of these but not all are up-my-alley):

I’ve also noticed an awesome trend of blogs and news sites posting very helpful “to-read” lists:

I felt the need to share this because I’m sure there are those of you out there looking for the next book to read. Maybe the obvious solution is for me to just recommend one. After all, I’m always asking other people for their choices. See I go in to reading open-minded. I’m likely to read almost anything (save Nicholas Sparks and any of those popular airport books) so I only ask you do the same.

After much contemplation, here are a few books I recommend:

  • Columbine – This books comes to mind first because of the books I’ve read so far this year, it’s the one that has stuck with me the most. See what I mean about being open-minded. Read it. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Everyone should read this because at the end you realize we don’t really know the story of Columbine.
  • This Side of Paradise – Everyone has read Great Gatsby but honestly, it’s not Fitzgerald’s best work. I’ve read most of his works now — save “Love of the Last Tycoon” — and this is my favorite.
  • The Jungle – Probably my favorite book — next to “Lolita” — if I have to pick one. Considering the history of this book, if you haven’t read it, you really should. It gets a little preachy with the socialism at the end but come on, it’s about immigrants, sanitation, regulations and unions there’s got to be some politicking.
  • Middlesex – I can’t even think where to start with this book. Just read it. Now. And then read the epilogue with all the notes of research.
  • Discovery of Witches – For those looking for something lighter, think Twilight but better because it’s well written, historical and more than just “I need a boyfriend.”
  • His Dark Materials trilogy – Like I said, be open-minded. These books are known for “killing God” but that summary misses kind of the whole point. Yes, it is a fantasy story that takes on the Church and religion but if you can’t read something that questions your faith then it’s not a very strong faith, is it?
  • I Was Told There’d Be Cake – I have a girl-crush on Sloane Crossley after reading her first collection of essays. She’s funny, smart, insightful, relatable … She’s like Lena Dunham but real (you know because Lena Dunham’s persona is all fake).
  • In Cold Blood – Easily one of the best pieces of prose ever written. It’s captivating and at the time revolutionary. Chilling.
  • Manhunt: The 12-day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer – Told like a historical thriller, James L. Swanson’s book takes you on a roller coaster from the assassination plot’s beginnings to the fateful ending in a barn in Virginia. A book you can’t put down — and it’s true!

I could probably name about 40 more but that covers a variety — nonfiction, YA, romance, memoir, classics, etc. You can check out other thoughts on books I’ve read here or on Goodreads.

Now, got any more suggestions for me?

2 Responses to “How to find what book to read next”
  1. aileenb says:

    Sorry I’m late to the game on your post, but THANK YOU for this. My reading list needed a kick in the pants, and you’ve helped greatly.

    • Liz says:

      Cool. What are you reading now? Even though I downloaded about 5 books from the library this week I’m always looking to add to my to-read list.

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